A few months ago, a young, early 20-something client of mine realized I was engaged. Without hesitation, she asked me to ‘give her hope’ when it came to boys. And to be honest, it broke my heart a little. I’m sharing my response and a bit of advice for my single ladies, and what I would have reminded the younger Jes of everyday if I could go back in time.
When I was in my early 20’s, I was nearly blinded at different moments by the sheer fact that I was single. It seemed that everyone around me was meeting nice guys, going on fun dates, moving onto the next phase of their relationship with their significant others. And I. Was. Single. Like verrrrry single! Some days it didn’t really matter to me, and some days it really stung. I’ve written a post before about what I would say to my younger self, but it’s a topic I’m really passionate about. I thought I’d share a bit more of a direct version of my ‘advice’ for all of you young ladies out there navigating your singledom, or for my readers at any age hoping the right guy will come along.
Go out and have the BEST time you can with your friends, and yourself! You can NEVER trade in the time spent with your friends in your 20’s (or really ever) for another moment in your life. I can assure you, you will alway treasure them. I love thinking back to the byob sushi dinners that turned into late nights, sunny summer days spent poolside. I reflecting on Sundays spent catching up on the couch in our yoga pants reminiscing about the weekend, laughing and crying over our mutually ridiculous ‘boy stories’ or simply contemplating life with my friends. There is a certain freedom that came with truly having no obligations outside of work hours except to enjoy time with your friends, meet new people, explore your city.
I’m also an enormous proponent for creating experiences just for you. How do you like to spend your alone time? Do you prioritize working out, do you enjoy reading? Have you always thought about traveling solo, taking an art/tennis/dance lesson? Now is the time! You can certainly share those moments in the future with a special someone, but figure out your passions while all of the time in the world is your own.
With all of that said, sometimes you are going to have an ‘off’ day. Sometimes you are going to feel like spending the evening in, rewatching Sex & the City episodes for the third (or fourth??) time, drinking wine and feeling sorry for your single self. It’s perfectly okay to indulge yourself once in awhile. I would advise to make sure those days are outnumbered by the ones you spend next to your friends, out on the town, planning for your next adventure.
Go on some dates. I don’t really believe in ‘practicing’ going on dates by going on dates. While I’ve certainly evolved as a person, I am who I am. That wasn’t going to change by having dinner or drinks with John or Sam ‘just because’. What I did find helpful was going on dates to figure out what I liked and didn’t like about potential partners. Some of us find ‘the one’ without blinking, and some of us put ourselves out there as if it were a second job, going on date after date. Find the balance when it comes to dating that is comfortable to you, but remember that Mr. Right isn’t going to magically appear from the sky. Dating kinda sucks, I’ve absolutely gone through periods where I hated dating! But once I shifted my mindset and decided, “I’m going to have fun with this,” I enjoyed dating a whole lot more.
Don’t settle. Ever ever. Oh man, where to start with this one. I’m not 100% comfortable blasting ‘my story’ out to however many of you are actually reading this. However, I can confidently say that I have some serious past experience in settling. It seemed like the only solution after I came out of my 20’s and found myself still ‘alone’ was to make it work with someone who in the end I didn’t even like as a person. The part that makes me the saddest is I really thought that excuse for a guy was all I deserved. I’ve forgiven myself for sticking around one minute, one day, one month, really one moment longer than I should have with someone who never deserved any of my time. But I won’t ever forgive myself if I don’t encourage others to always remember their self-worth. If you find yourself constantly making excuses for someone, hoping that another day or another ‘thing’ will help change your relationship, giving someone chance after chance to change or prove themselves, and/or losing sight of who you are and your joy, chances are you settling. Listen to yourself, and be honest with yourself. It is not worth it to stick around just because, I promise.
It is my #1 hope for all women that you don’t settle. You are NOT defined by your marital status. You are defined by you.
Find someone who complements your life. Before I met Ben, my now husband, I came to a point of acceptance that I may end up alone. I had so many amazing friends and family in my life, a great job, fun hobbies and exciting future travel plans that I figured that would be enough. At the encouragement of a few friends, I did go on a few dates and by some gift of God, I met Ben. I can honestly say from the very beginning, I saw him as an awesome complement to my life and not a solution to ‘being single.’ Our relationship flourished fairly quickly once we met. It was healthy and grew from a foundation of trust, mutual respect and parallel values. He truly brought me joy and honestly to this day, I still pinch myself that we found each other. Of course now I cannot imagine my life without him, and I am thankful everyday that I get to spend it with such an awesome person. He added to my life in a wonderful way, allowing me to grow as a person and gave me the love that throughout the years before him, I would sometimes forget I deserved. We all deserve to be loved for who we are, and I hope that person you meet is a true complement of you as an individual.
Enjoy your life now, so when you think back to your ‘single days’, your takeaway isn’t “I made so many mistakes or I was lonely or I wish I would have met someone sooner.” Enjoy your life so when you look back, you can be proud of yourself and what you accomplished. You can be gentle enough with yourself to let go of your mistakes and fortunate enough to smile and laugh at all of the wonderful memories you made, the friendships you built. I promise that while your timeline may look different from your friends, it will be just as special. And it will be yours, which no one else can duplicate.