This week marks a very special milestone. This week two years ago I became a single lady and I’ve stayed single since. It’s my longest single stint in my adult life. Beyond being single, I’ve been through a lot professionally and personally in the past two years. I moved to Washington, D.C. and by early 2014 I was back in Chicago. I arrived back in Chicago with no job, no place to live and no idea what would happen next. This time last year I was single, jobless and living on my friend’s couch. It was the ultimate piece of humble pie for a girl who had never had a problem finding a boyfriend, had a well-paying job, and had previously been living in an impossibly expensive apartment in Adams Morgan (and before that a huge apartment in a Chicago highrise and before that owned her own condo in Indianapolis – so, yeah, HUGE BIG HEAPING SLICE OF HUMBLE DAMN PIE). So two years down, what have I learned?
I (Still) Believe In Love – Despite all of my ruminating about my non-existent love life and the struggle of being a single lady “of a certain age”, I don’t doubt that I’ll fall in love again. I have no clue when but I haven’t lost faith. I’ve been very hurt. And I’ve hurt other people. And there is no guarantee that my next relationship won’t be a one-way ticket to the heartbreak. There is no guarantee that I won’t get hurt again. There is no guarantee that love won’t run out. There is no guarantee that what starts as magic won’t evaporate into dust. But there’s an absolute guarantee that I won’t know the outcome, unless I try. So I still have hope. By my estimation, I have about thirty years before I give up hope. Once I hit 63, I’ll stop going to the gym, buy cats and a pair of Crocs. But, for now, my hope remains intact.
The Reset Button Is a Good Thing –As you can imagine, over the past two years, I’ve cried. A lot. I cried before every job interview. I cried before going out with friends. I cried before getting dressed in the morning. I cried while lying on my floor and drinking wine (a special skill few human beings possess). Things are different now. I have a job. I have a place (and it’s way smaller than my other places and, yep, half my stuff is in storage). But, it’s a place and it’s my place. And my bed is super comfortable. (Not sure why that part is relevant) This life “reset” has helped put things in perspective. I’d love to say “I no longer sweat the small stuff” but more accurately “I sweat the small stuff with less intensity”.
I’m Trying to Avoid Emotionally Reckless Situations – Famous last words but I’m serious here. You may be asking yourself: “What’s an emotionally reckless situation?” It’s hard to explain but you know it when you feel it. I’ve always likened relationships to building a house and if the foundation is cracked, the house will fall. Based on this little analogy, I’m avoiding situations rife with emotional chaos or confusion from the outset. Because let’s be honest, relationships are hard enough, might as well start off on the right foot.
I’m Not a Chill Girl or a Cool Girl – I’m not a “chill girl”, a “cool girl” or any variation thereof. I’ve heard and read that millennials are much more casual about dating than previous generations. Nothing is ever declared. Dates aren’t “dates”. People do a lot of “hanging out”. I’ve tried every app and online dating site and none of it is for me. I don’t want to “hang out”. I don’t want to be “texting” with multiple people. I don’t want to “swipe right”. I may be a(n older) millennial but I’m old fashion. I want a guy to ask me out on a proper date. I don’t need anything fancy. Just dinner and drinks. And then after that, if the guy likes me, I want him to just say so and ask me on another date. It all seems so simple but it’s proving to be rather difficult.
Eliminating Negativity – I’ve blocked. I’ve unfriended. I’ve simply let go. I’m done with people who don’t positively contribute to my life. Life is way too short to be stuck in relationships, romantic or otherwise, that lead absolutely nowhere and from which I derive zero pleasure.
Empathy for Others – Nothing humbles a girl like having an all-out sob fest at a salad bar in front of co-workers. The salad bar cashier was probably thinking, “Damn girl, I hate kale too but this is ridiculous.” I’ve been through some major bumps and, as a result, I’m not quick to judge other people. My experiences have made me better at having patience and understanding for others.
Moving On is a Real Thing – I hate the phrase “it’ll be okay” because sometimes it really will not be okay. And, frankly, after dealing with setbacks you never get back to who you were before. You become a new version of yourself. For years after I was sexually assaulted, I just wanted to get back to the “old me”. I was searching everywhere for things, people or places that helped bring her back. And guess what? I truly started to move on when I realized that the “old me” was never coming back. I was a new version of myself and that was perfectly fine.
Have A Little Faith – Nope, I haven’t become religious but I have learned to trust. I’m able to be hopeful about the future because I’ve been through bad times and come through the other side.