When I moved to New York City five and a half years ago, it was so important to me to do it alone. I broke up with my college boyfriend, packed my bags and took a chance, sans job, apartment or boyfriend. I truly wanted to experience making a huge life change without depending on partner, friend or family member to make it happen. It somehow worked itself out, as things often do when you put your hope in the right place, but all of these years later, I look at the life I’ve built and I can’t help but fight the ache of wanting someone to share it with. Now, I have time — I’ll turn 27 this week — and my life hasn’t been void of love (much to the contrary). But as I inch closer to 30 and I watch my best friends begin the next chapter of their lives post-being single and dating, I wonder when (oh when?!) will that happen for me.
As much as I try to have a positive attitude about it and not dread another date with another guy that will statistically speaking, lead to nowhere, I try to remind myself that these days of being on my own are limited since I'd like to get married. Once the marriage begins, mortgages are created, children are born and lives are built bigger and with more responsibilities, there will be so many things that I can no longer do. I might not think I’ll miss coming home to having that queen bed all to myself, but I bet in 10 years, I’ll have fond thoughts of it (especially when I’m sharing it with my husband, our child and a dog).
The thing that I’m most thankful for — even when it’s hard to be — is that having this independence has taught me so much about myself, about life, about what I want and about what I stand for. I’m stronger and more confident because I’ve had to rely on myself. I’ve discovered what it means to be be self-sufficient and to follow your heart, no matter how many naysayers stand in your way.
Being single can wear on you, but it can also teach you so many amazing things. Here, women share the biggest life lessons that they learned from the single life:
1. Lindsay, 27
"I am so much stronger, so much more full of life, so much more curious and so ridiculously happier than I would have been in any of those bad relationships that I walked away from. I know that I'm worth more than settling, and I'm not afraid to wait for what is right. My own company - and of my friends - is just fine, for now."
2. Tonya, 52
“You need to be happy and content being single, and then you’re ready to be part of a relationship. You don’t need someone to ‘complete you.’ You complete yourself.”
3. Jackie, 25
“If you can fall in love with yourself, then other people will fall in love with you too. It’s like a moth to a flame.”
4. Laura, 29
“Grabbing a book and going to lunch or dinner by myself can be one of the most enjoyable experiences, ever. Even though I’m married now, I still really enjoy going out to eat by myself, and I would have never learned to do that without stepping out of my comfort zone while single.”
5. Lucy, 25
“You have to find self-worth and confidence inside of yourself — not from another person. It’s something you have to re-learn over and over again, but it’s important.”
6. Felicia, 27
“You don’t need the approval of a man [or woman] to know that you are worthy of being loved. You already are loved.”
7. Heather, 30
“Being single gives you the freedom to realize who you really are and what you want. Once you’re married, everything is a compromise, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But being single affords you complete freedom. Move across the country? Do it. Start a new hobby? Do it.”
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