It's OK to take a break from relationships and be single for awhile
Recently, a relationship of mine ended. Done. Kaput. At first, I felt very much like Elle Woods at the beginning of Legally Blonde. Heartbroken, lonely, and guilty for eating my way halfway through yet another sampler box of chocolates. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I had invested my emotions, my time, and quite honestly, my sanity into said relationship, and now that it was over. . .I was at a loss.
I popped another piece of chocolate into my mouth and wondered what I was supposed to do now that I didn’t have another person to focus my attention on. I sank into the luxurious oblivion of my suede couch, contemplating my romantic decisions. I had recently revisited an old relationship for the umpteenth time. It was familiar and safe. He was constant, and I was constantly in flux. The moment that thought crossed my mind, I was petrified. I had hopes, dreams, and desires as everyone does, but I was faced with a crippling lack of self-identity. It terrified me that I felt the need to rely on somebody who didn’t necessarily have my best interests at heart, because I couldn’t figure out who I was.
Who am I? It’s one of the oldest, most thought-provoking, most infuriating questions there is. Apparently, amidst the emotional turmoil of said breakup, my sanity switch had mysteriously been flipped off. The fact that I felt like I had to be in a relationship to be accomplishing something, or even to mean something was not me, and frankly, not accurate.
In the midst of my transition from an eight-year-old Harry Potter fanatic to an utterly indecisive, eighteen-year-old college student (and who, let’s be real here, is still a Harry Potter fanatic), “me” had somehow managed to slip through the cracks. Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? Questions that I had answers to only years ago. Now, I struggle when I’m asked to choose an adjective to accurately describe myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hopeless romantic and I dream of having a cinematic-worthy love affair. I’m completely and utterly in love with the idea of being in love. Handwritten letters, bouquets of roses, shared glances across crowded rooms, Celine Dion belting out a soulful ballad in the background. I love the idea of riding off on a majestic steed with the man of my dreams into a gorgeous sunset, but I also want to be sure that I ride off into that sunset on the right horse.
So with that in mind, I set down the sampler box of chocolates, climbed out of the wonderful comfort of my suede oblivion and very proudly proclaimed, “I AM TAKING A BREAK.”
I’ve really, really, really, really, really, really liked someone. I’ve been infatuated with someone. But I’ve never loved someone, and honestly, I don’t think that I’m ready to. That’s why it hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t met the person I’m destined to fall in love with because I’m not ready. I haven’t quite grown into the person that I’m going to be —and that’s okay.
Now, in my experience, people generally tend to look at being single as a bad thing. Recently, an acquaintance of mine asked me if I had started seeing anyone after things had ended between a boyfriend and myself. I informed her that no, I wasn’t seeing anyone. Her eyes then welled up in total pity and she said, “I’m sorry”.
I was uncomfortable, to say the least. Up until that point, I had never once thought that being single was something to apologize for. The point of being in a relationship, I believe, is to totally and completely love and support somebody. You embrace their flaws. And you never take them for granted. Your significant other should do the same for you. And I hadn’t met anyone that fit the criteria, so why would I settle for anything less? Why would I continue being in a relationship that wasn’t ultimately something I wanted?
I’d always been someone who had known exactly what she wanted. Ask me where I was going to be in ten, fifteen, twenty years —I could tell you in extreme detail without a second thought. I knew what I wanted out of a relationship, what kind of dog I wanted to get when I had a place of my own —I even had first and middle names picked for each of my nonexistent children.
Upon my arrival at college, my sureness and sense of self-direction participated in a vanishing act without my permission, and I was left alone, with no idea where I was headed, and without the slightest clue as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Since then, I have learned to cope with something that I have never dealt with in my entire life: the concept of “I don’t know.”
I don’t know where I’ll be in ten, fifteen, twenty years. I don’t know where I’ll be living, or how I’ll be making my living. But I’m on my way to finding out. I’ve identified some things that I love doing, things that I am very, very passionate about. But I don’t have everything all figured out. And because of that, I want to spend my time bettering myself. Getting to know myself.
I want to be able to answer with confidence and without hesitation the infuriating question of “Who am I?” To do this, all of my time and energy has to be focused on me, and the betterment and discovery of me.
There’s nothing wrong with being single. There’s nothing wrong with me because I choose to find myself before I spend time finding someone else. I want to become a strong, confident, intelligent woman who is passionate about what she does. I want to find that piece of me who is certain of herself, buried under the aftermath of an avalanche of insecurity and self-doubt.
So, yes, you’ve read this correctly, I’m making a conscious choice to be single. I’m making a conscious choice to find myself, and to use what I’m passionate about to make a difference. Now, I feel very much like Elle Woods at the end of Legally Blonde. On top of the world.