I was at work chatting with a friend that’s known me for five years. After talking about relationships, specifically my brother who has been on and off dating the same girl for three years, I said, “Yeah… well who am I to judge? I’m a 24-year-old virgin who’s never had a serious relationship.”
My friend told me that just because I’ve always been single doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. I know what I’m looking for, and I know what’s important to me. And I thought to myself, “He’s right. I do know a lot more about myself than I thought, and I shouldn’t have to budge on that because I’ve always been single.”
When you’re single, you have the opportunity to learn more about yourself on a deeper level. If you find someone to love forever, that’s great, but you’ll never have the opportunity to learn who you are by yourself like you do now. So TAKE ADVANTAGE.
Here’s what I learned from being single for 24 years (and counting):
I have a type.
Whenever you’re single and looking, friends show up to set you up with one of their single friends. You’ll hear anything from, “This person will be perfect for you,” to “I have a friend who loves Danity Kane too!” (that last one might be more specific to me than anything). Eventually, someone will ask, “What’s your type?”
I used to always answer, “I don’t really have a type,” but as I continued to find whom I was more romantically attracted to, I realized I did. I like funny guys… not like the stereotypical, actually good at telling jokes kind of guys, but the guys who can make you laugh with a God awful pun that you would roll your eyes at if anyone else said it. I generally find myself more attracted to gingers with facial hair. I’m super tall, and I don’t necessarily care if a guy is taller than me as long as his presence feels taller than me. I like more masculine men who aren’t afraid to be emotional, who like to cuddle. I like when someone makes me feel special… it sounds simple, but it’s necessary. If someone won’t make you feel special now, they won’t in the future… so stop wasting your time!
Being single gives you the opportunity to know your likes and dislikes. Take the opportunity to know what you like in a person so you know what you’re looking for in a mate. Also keep in mind that this ideal person may not exist and you may end up with someone who is the antithesis of everything you look for in someone, but if you know what you want at least on an emotional level, you’ll know when you’re wasting your time on someone who’s not worth it.
I learned how to be sad on my own.
I hate when people say, “You have to be happy alone to be happy with another person,” because I don’t believe it. The happiest people I know were unhappy before they found a significant other that changed that for them.
What I’ve found with being single is that I’ve learned how to be sad on my own. It sounds simple because most people have been unhappy, but you have to know what sadness looks like to know what happiness looks like as well. People always assume that happiness is a destination, and it’s not. The happiest people feel sadness, anger, anxiety, and any other negative emotion. But by learning to be sad alone, you also learn how to get yourself out of that funk… even if it’s only for a minute.
Happiness comes from within. You can’t force someone to be happy because you want him or her to be; it’s a process. Your happiness is allowed to depend on another person, but it shouldn’t be the end all, be all. By learning to be sad alone, you learn what happiness looks like, and you learn how to earn it yourself.
When I was a senior in college, I thought I needed someone to date because I was sick of being alone. So I started looking. I started dating a guy for about a month before he moved to California without really telling me what we were doing. I obsessed over him for months after we stopped dating because I convinced myself he was the one for me even though he refused to acknowledge me. I convinced myself that I couldn’t do better so I’d settle for the first person that gave me any sort of attention.
I followed that “relationship” up by going on a date with a guy who called me fat. One would think that I would take that as an insult, but I spent the next two months trying to impress him enough to make him like me. He made me feel like I needed to lose weight and stop being so passionate about the things I like because it was obnoxious and annoying, and he did it all by making me feel terrible about myself.
What I’ve learned from those situations and being single is that just because you go on one date doesn’t mean you have to be with that person after. You’re allowed to explore what you like; it’s okay to know what you want. It’s okay for someone to not like you and vice versa. But it’s important to STOP SETTLING! If someone doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, they’re not the one, and they shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t want to change everything about yourself to meet the expectations of another person because you’ll lose yourself that way. It’s okay to want to become a better person, but ultimately do that for yourself, not another person. I can’t truthfully say that you’ll find someone because I don’t believe that I will either, but would you rather be alone and know whom you are, or be with someone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself?
Give yourself more credit.
This section is going to be the smallest because it’s the one I’m still working on most. I’ve, for the longest time, always discredited things about myself. I call myself fat all the time, I tell everyone that I’m a terrible person, I feel unworthy of any love. But being single has taught me that if I expect to find someone who makes me feel special, I have to start recognizing that I am special. I have to start speaking positivity to own it. Being single taught me to give myself more credit… here’s the start.
I wanted to kill myself in December, and I didn’t. I thought I didn’t because of the people who kept me here because I was too weak to actually care about myself. But at the end of the day, I made the choice to stay here. Because I am strong enough.
We’re meant to do more than just live happily ever after.
When I was younger, I thought I could change the world and become an important figure that people looked up to. As I became older, I realized that I couldn’t become what I envisioned, and I was discouraged. So I changed my expectations. And I continued to change them based on what I thought the purpose of life was. I thought then that I would just find people who made me happy and surround myself with them, and for some reason, I thought the purpose of being alive was to find a person to love me when I couldn’t love myself. When I couldn’t find anyone, I felt like a failure.
I had a meltdown wondering what my purpose was. I couldn’t stop crying, and I found myself repeating, “What’s the point? What’s the point?” I called a friend, she couldn’t help, and I still felt like I had no purpose. So I made a list.
I’ve helped people come out of the closet. I’ve helped people struggling with depression. I’ve made people laugh and cry and feel things that only I can make them feel. I’ve held people’s hands when they’ve cried, I’ve expressed my gratitude for my friends, and I’ve loved. I’ve helped people. And that’s a lot.
I can’t be sad if I know what I’m capable of because I did it all without the help or validation of another person. Because we are all destined for greatness, whatever that looks like. And we are destined to do more than just love another person and live happily ever after. Being single taught me that.
It’s okay to be alone.
This one is self-explanatory.
Take the opportunity to get to know yourself. Spend a night watching your favorite movie by yourself. Go for walks and listen to music. Give yourself opportunities to thrive. You won’t regret it.