I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. I probably had my whole life planned out by the age of 12. I thought I would meet my soulmate in my early 20s. We’d have a whirlwind courtship, then marriage and babies would follow- lots of babies (precisely two, possibly three but only if I ever developed amnesia to mask the pain of the previous labour). All this made sense in my young, naïve mind- why wouldn’t it happen according to plan? What could go wrong? Meanwhile God was like, “ahm, that’s lovely, but no.” As the years leading up to my mid-20s came and went, I had to pivot my outlook completely. My strong, know-it-all attitude about my future and how things would pan out began to dissolve with each failed relationship. I got used to disappointments and, after a while, I started expecting it too.
One day, I decided I was done waiting around; turns out they don’t actually come knocking on your door like, “excuse me, I think you might be my soulmate?” I had to live my life the only way I knew how and put my happiness first. Along the way, I learned some valuable lessons about being single.
Existing connections. When we’re hyper-focused on searching for the next best thing, we may not always appreciate the relationships we have in our lives. I’m talking about family and friends. Although my sisters and friends were onto different stages of their lives, I never stopped leaning on them for support. If I ever felt like a third wheel or needed exclusive girls-only time, I never hesitated to let them know. Communication is always a two-way street, and it is a vital key to the success of any type of union.
Financial independence. Educate yourself with financial literacy. I was still living with my parents in my mid-20s and terribly unhappy. There was a distinct moment where I realized the only way I was going to get out of there was to just dig myself out. So, I promptly started saving aggressively; every dollar counted. I was on a mission and that mission became an obsessive habit of watching my bank account grow from chump change to full financial independence. I taught myself simple budgeting strategies and developed my own financial plan. One of the most gratifying days of my life was when I got the call that my bid for my condo was accepted. I had just bought my first home, all on my own, and it was surreal to see all my hard work turn into a dream realized.
Self-love. This means loving yourself enough to not settle for anything less than what you believe you deserve. When I wasn’t in a relationship, I took it upon myself to truly focus on my hobbies and explore new interests. I read voraciously, worked on my writing, studied a new language, taught myself to cook and volunteered a lot of my time with organizations I was passionate about. The latter allowed me to venture out of my comfort zone quite a bit and meet other walks of life.
Gratitude. I can’t say enough about gratitude. It’s a mindset that I think, if learned, can absolutely change a person’s perspective completely. I started to appreciate all the wonderful things I did have. We all have things we can appreciate. When the going got a bit tough, I had a physical list of blessings I pinned to the wall next to my bed to make it visible each morning. Sometimes it takes these physical reminders to help us get into this mentality but once we get there, it becomes second nature to automatically think positively.
Learning to be alone. This one is tough no matter who you are. The ability to sit with yourself and be okay with being alone can be difficult, especially when everyone around you may be in different phases of their lives. I think what helped me most was just to remind myself that everyone has their own share of doubts and issues. As the saying goes, if we all dumped our problems in the centre of the room, we’d likely take back our own issues and learn to deal with it rather than dealing with someone else’s baggage. I try to remember that when I find myself wandering over to the other patch of grass that looks slightly greener.
Here’s what I know: life won’t be exactly like this forever. Things will inevitably change, and you will adapt- one way or another. So, for now, try to enjoy where you are- perks and all. As for all the rest? This too shall pass.
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