It seems like every time I check Facebook, about 10 more “friends” have gotten engaged or married.
I check the list of people having birthdays that day, and inevitably I’ll see a name I don’t recognize. When I click on it, it turns out it’s a girl from high school who’s gotten married and changed her last name.
In college, they had the infamous “Senior Scramble” or “Ring by Spring”, and at least 50% of the girls from my graduating class were sporting a rock on their finger by graduation.
Me? I’m single. And I haven’t been in a relationship since college. In fact, it’s become a part of my identity–somewhere along the way, I became the token single friend. Most of the time, I link it back to my state of unemployment, or this identity crisis I seem to be going through. It usually sounds something like this:
“I don’t want to date because I feel like I have nothing to offer to anyone.”
“I don’t want to bring anyone else into this mess.”
“I want to figure myself out first before dragging someone else into all of this.”
And I know I’m not alone in this line of thinking–in fact, I’ve heard those same words come from some of my friends.
Personally, I think this way for three reasons:
1. I want to know I have my own life, and things going for me before I get involved with someone else. I don’t want to be completely dependent on someone else for my happiness. I need to have it in my life independently.
2. No one these days needs an extra burden in their lives. And even if they wouldn’t think of me as a burden, I tend to think of myself that way.
3. It’s a protective measure out of fear. No one can reject me if I reject them first. Or perhaps more accurately, no one can reject me if I reject myself first. Saying I want to figure myself out sounds mature and noble–it’s a great excuse.
So now that all of that’s out there, here’s what I’m deciding:
I do have something to offer someone. To start with, I have a sense of humor and a mind of my own and a great smile (thanks to nine years of braces–that’s right, NINE years). I am capable of great love for others, and I’m learning to extend grace to myself. I’m discovering new, valuable things about myself all the time.
My life is not a mess. It’s quiet, and I have lots of time to write. A lot of people would envy this stage that my life is in right now. I have every door open to me, and I am constantly weighing and planning and imagining.
Thinking that there is an end point in all of this, that I’m going to reach some time in my life and say, “Ah yes, I finally have myself completely figured out,” is laughable. As cliched as it sounds, discovering oneself is a journey that has no end. How boring would it be to be with someone who has all the answers? I’d prefer someone with whom I can explore.
Whether or not this reframing will someday end up in a relationship, I know I’m better off for thinking this way. I’m open to meeting someone because I refuse to think of myself as a burden or a project anymore. I am, rather, a masterpiece in the making. How corny is that? But seriously.
What are your excuses for not dating? What lies have you told yourself? How can you reframe those into truths?
Allison Rivers is a twenty-something on a quest of redefinition. She’s a southpaw who writes, a softy with an eyebrow piercing, and a daughter of FBI agents. She lives in a suburb of Chicago with her Jack Russell Terrier, Smudge. Check out her blog at http://thegetalifeproject.