I’m 23, and still not ready for my first serious relationship—and that’s OK

My 23rd birthday has come and gone. I’m officially allowed to sing many a song about without feeling wrong about not being the age specified in the lyrics. More importantly, I’ve been doing some good old fashioned soul searching, and I’ve realized I’m actually really happy that I’ve never been in a serious relationship. To be exact, I’ve only really had one boyfriend. This doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of eating copious amounts of ice cream, viewings of A Cinderella Story, and tearful belting sessions of “Jar of Hearts” over other guys. I’ve had plenty “almosts” and “could’ve beens.” I’ve had plenty of conversations where I worry that I must be defective (I’m not, and neither are any of you, my single sisters). Quite frankly, I’m realizing I still don’t even know if I’m ready for a serious relationship.

Recently, I’ve been looking back at some of my previous, for the current lack of a better phrase, “failed” endeavors, and I can understand why they didn’t work out. To spare a lot of embarrassing Yahoo messenger stories, we’re going to start with my high school dudes. In high school, I really struggled with my body image. I wasn’t exactly sure who I was as a person, let alone who I would become. I shielded parts of myself from other people. I was in no way ready to date some because I didn’t know myself, so how could I let another person get to know me? I might not have left my hometown to find myself in Austin. I feel foolish now for all the times I cried about being single and joked about learning to knit sweaters for all of the dogs (which would actually be adorable, by the way) I would have in lieu of a boyfriend. At the time, I wasn’t okay with being independent, which could have also been disastrous for a relationship. Put simply, I was in no way ready to commit to someone. That leads me to college.

My four years of college harbor some of my all-time favorite memories alongside some of my worst. I learned more about myself during my college career that I ever thought was possible. I taught myself to be independent and courageous (especially while navigating public transportation). I finally became comfortable in my own skin. I learned almost anything can be fixed with a hot glue gun, thanks to my three year stint as an RA.

Relationship-wise, I found out I wasn’t ready to date and managed to ruin a friendship because of it. Although it definitely didn’t end ideally (I’m still disappointed in myself for handling things the way I did), it did teach me what I wanted and shattered my preconceived illusion of having to date someone who was essentially a male version of myself. It showed me you can’t make yourself feel a certain way about someone if it wasn’t meant to be. Lastly, I realize my college years were really chaotic. I worked as a Resident Assistant, Teacher Assistant, desk worker, took at least twelve hours every semester, volunteered for SXSW during spring break, had a seven-month long internship, visited home, and hung out with my friends. There was no way I could invest the time in a relationship my significant other deserved. It wouldn’t be fair to them, and it wouldn’t be fair to me. That brings me to now.

I work 40 hours a week. I am the creator and co-host of a podcast. I run a blog. I write for this here publication. I like to occasionally sleep. There’s no way I could give someone the time and energy they deserve. I don’t want to start a serious relationship off on rocky ground. I’ve definitely become more self-aware of who I am as a person. I continue to work on my insecurities and my faults daily.

But I still don’t know if I’m ready for a serious relationship, and that’s okay. There’s no definitive time frame. There’s no rush. Go on lots of dates with people you never thought you would and ask out the cute guy in your Spanish class if you want. If it doesn’t work out, it just wasn’t meant to be and know you’ll take something away from it. Besides, being single means never having to share the last piece of pizza, and that’s a perk if I’ve ever heard one.

[Image via Universal Pictures]

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