This is merely a testament to finding yourself, through the eyes of the unattached. I don’t normally share a lot of intimate personal details on here, because it’s not that kind of blog. However, I feel that this is one of the rare occasions where what I have to say actually has merit, and in order for it to be fully appreciated a little history is needed.
In the past year, I ended my first long-term relationship. There it is, the catalyst to all of my poor romantic decisions from the last six months. I had been with this boy since I was 16 and he had played a huge part in some of the more impressionable years of my life. We had a sweet love, but it was also very young. After high school, we decided to go to college 3,000 miles away from each other and try a long distance relationship. Although we made it work for two years, we eventually decided the distance was just too much.
The end of this three yearlong relationship was messy to say the least. The boy quickly reattached himself to another girl at his college in the Midwest, a rebound that stung a lot more than I thought possible. Despite the boy’s newly attached status, we kept in close contact. When Thanksgiving break rolled around, and the boy and I found ourselves back in our hometown, things took a turn for the complicated. We fell back into the same patterns with each other. We were constantly spending time together; going on hikes, taking scenic drives and verbalizing the old feelings that were oh-so-easily coming back. Investing time and emotion in someone who was also attached to someone else wasn’t smart. It took me way longer than it should have to realize that I was getting burned and that I needed to walk away from this boy again. That’s the thing about first loves, you give with your whole heart to them and I think that makes it even harder to realize when things are finally over. There’s a huge part of your heart that continues to hope that somehow, this time, things will work out. But what it’s hard to know at 20 is that life is not a fairytale. Sometimes you need to pick up your glass slipper for yourself and stop waiting for Prince Charming to leave the ugly stepsister.
After Thanksgiving, I tried dating… to a disastrous effect. I am apparently some sort of jerk magnet, because I quickly found myself attached to the worst guy in my student government (the activity that easily takes up the most amount of my time besides school, my editing internship or sleep). After a confusing couple of months with this guy, we decided to end our… I was about to say it was a relationship, but I don’t think it quite qualifies as that, maybe flirtation? Or involvement? Anyways, the point is things came to an end.
So here I am, on February 14th, finding myself happily unattached on Valentine’s Day. Most days, I feel like my life is still unwritten. I’m a 20-year-old girl working on a liberal arts degree and I really don’t have many clear goals for my future after school. I haven’t found myself, but I’m more than okay with that. I’m happy to have this respite from romantic involvement and to be able to focus on me. I am not bitter about other people being in relationships, nor am I championing being a confirmed bachelorette and opting to be the new Carrie Bradshaw pre-2008. I am just being me and figuring out what that means. It’s incredibly relieving to learn to be on your own and to be finding yourself independently, without the crutch of someone else.
I think it’s a gift to be given a break. In the six months that I haven’t officially been someone’s girlfriend, I’ve grown an immense amount. I’m more than just six months older. So much of our culture is pushing relationships, pushing you to be in one or pushing you to be upset that you’re not in one. And I think that’s a huge disservice. It’s liberating to be 20 and independent, it’s not something you should be crying about.
So this Valentine’s Day, I won’t be on a date with my future husband, same as I won’t be watching Bridget Jones’s Diary, crying and eating ice cream from the container (although, my mother did send me a giant heart-shaped box of See’s candy that I might not be able to resist). Instead, I’ll be giving thanks. I’ll give thanks that I’ve known what it feels like to be in love and to be loved in return, even if the result left me a little brokenhearted. I’ll be giving thanks that I’ve seen from my parents how to have a long and happy marriage, and I’ll be giving thanks to have this time to independently find myself. Most of all, I’ll be giving thanks for the moment I’m in right now and for the path that I’m on. I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m loving every moment of figuring it out.