Stephanie Ashe
March 01, 2016 2:15 pm
NBC

For most of my life I proudly proclaimed that I would never get married. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with getting married, necessarily, but it just wasn’t for me.  I know that’s easy enough to say when you’re in high school, and adulthood seems so far away. It gets progressively harder once you’re out of school, and your single friends—the ones that were right there with you when you swearing off commitment—start dropping like flies. They get married, have kids, buy houses, and start doing all of the adult things your rebellious teenage selves were so sure you’d never do.

I kept the dream alive for a while, but at 26 I’ve found myself engaged and on the verge of committing to one person for the rest of my life. Thinking back to my single days, I can’t believe it’s real, honestly. I loved my freedom, and the idea of coming home to the same person every day seemed unbelievably boring. But as I sit here, researching venues and honeymoon locations, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for my single life. It feels like forever ago, and I’m a totally different person now. If I were writing a letter to the person I was, it would go something like this.

The thing about being single that you won’t realize until you aren’t anymore is that you really should appreciate it. So many years were spent desperately searching for the right person to sweep me off my feet. At no point did I ever acknowledge that those years without commitment, without strings were the years that would make me the person I was going to be for the rest of my life.

There’s so much you should have done differently, but it’s too late now. You should have spent more time alone. You shouldn’t have kissed your friend’s crush. You shouldn’t have spent so much of your energy on an abusive jerk. You should have dressed the way you wanted to, not the way you thought they wanted you to. You should have been more confident about saying what your boundaries were. You should have spent more time with your friends. You definitely shouldn’t have blown them off for that guy, or that other guy.

I know it’s crazy to imagine, but some day someone’s going to ask you to marry them. What’s more shocking, is that you’re actually going to say yes. You’re going to agree to give up your single life for marriage, but I would be lying if I said you wouldn’t be a little bit sad about it. What I’ve learned the most from being engaged is that everything I thought I knew about what I was looking for in a guy was wrong. Like so, unbelievably wrong. I know you’re still going to swoon when you see that guitarist with a Shins shirt and a fedora, but I promise, he’s not the one. What you’re actually looking for is someone that makes you feel like you’re half of a whole. Someone who never asks you to change, but would still love you if you did. Butterflies are exciting, but comfort is what keeps you together, even when the butterflies go away.

There’s going to come a time when a guy asks you out, and you know he has a girlfriend, but you go anyway. Don’t do that. That’s stupid. Oh, and don’t back down when that other guy tries to pressure you into sex. If you don’t want to, that is completely OK. And honestly, the fact that he does that is the only reason you need to break up with him.

I guess what I’m saying is just stop looking for anything really, and enjoy your life. Enjoy your friends and the time you have to figure out who you are and who you want to be. If you don’t have a strong sense of self, you’re going to attract a partner that doesn’t either. The right person is going to come to you, and when he does, you’ll be so happy that you had that time alone to prepare yourself for a lifelong commitment.

It’s been fun (sometimes), but I’m happy to let you go.

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