A little over a year ago I wrote a post about learning to be by myself. When I wrote that post I had been single for all of six months and was just starting to really enjoy the freedom that came with it. And by freedom I don’t mean free to be with other people, I mean free in a way that no one else has an influence on your decisions. Then of course I started dating someone and ruined it all. But I’ve already admitted to being a chronic and habitual dater, since I was in middle school my world has been centered around the male species. As I got older relationship after relationship ended because something didn’t sit right with me. Obviously, there were other reasons to end things, but a pattern that I notice now looking back on things is a lot of times I ran because I noticed myself changing in ways I wasn’t okay with.
I’m aware that as humans we change constantly, so even the person I marry will not be the same person 20, 30, 60 years down the line, and neither will I. But I do believe that at everyone’s core are certain qualities and characteristics that are uncompromisable. For me, those things can range from my mental health, to my relationship with God, to my love for art and music. So often we compromise the things that make us who we are to try and make a relationship work that just isn’t meant to.
If you know me at all, you know I’m super basic in that The Notebook is one of my all-time favorite movies. Judge me all you want, but it’s not entirely because of the epic love story. I like to think I relate to Allie Hamilton, partially because of her name but also because she’s a feisty smoke show and that’s who I aspire to be. But I digress…no matter how much time has passed, I can watch that movie again and again and each time a different line or scene breaks me down. Particularly, I’ll always remember her telling Lon, “I don’t paint anymore.” Such a simple, yet loaded sentence. I’ve had this thought so many times while dating someone, “I don’t ______ anymore.” I don’t see my friends anymore. I don’t sing anymore. I don’t go running anymore.
This epiphany smacked me in the face last week when I was discussing this very subject with a friend. This is why I’ve been single for so long and this is why I’m OKAY with being single for this long. In my longest stint of singledom I’ve finally realized I no longer want to be in a relationship for the sake of company, I only want to be with someone who encourages me and inspires me to do the things that make me who I am and who I want to be. I don’t have time anymore to waste on men who force me into a mold I’ll never fit into because it compromises who I am to my very core. And until I find someone worth my time, who pushes me to not only do what I love but find more things to love doing, I’ll remain single.
The older I get the more I realize how hard I have to work to create time for myself. I also realize how many people my age are already married, and wonder if I’m missing something. It’s easy to get caught up in those expectations, especially in the South, so I have to keep reminding myself that I’d much rather be single than be in a relationship (or God forbid, a marriage) that doesn’t force me to be the best version of myself. Losing sight of yourself is never worth it.