Through high school and a half of my college experience, I fell victim to the trap that many girls do; that I needed a boyfriend. In high school it was easy; dates barely existed and having a boyfriend was as easy as agreeing to go to the next dance with a boy we'd known since the first grade. In college, the terrain began to change with Tinder, Bumble and frat boys emerging from previously unchecked corners of our lives. As I agreed to get tacos with one emotionally unavailable boy after the next, I never stopped to ask myself why. Finding a date was just a sidelines expectation of what I should have going on in my life. Only recently have I broken into this unabashed love I have for myself and allowed it to change my view on dating.
I struggled like most girls with self-image and finding myself as an individual in the age of social media, where comparisons to others can be accessed with a login to Instagram. I am 100% addicted to social media and so it wasn't through a cleanse of it that I was able to tap into how I felt about myself. For me, I was presented with opportunities to do something I love. I spent a few months traveling and tapping into my own skills. I was able to make a difference in other people's lives, and that drove me to the understanding the value of work I can produce.
After settling into this appreciation for what I am capable of, all on my own, I realized I hadn't gone on a date in several months-- and I didn't care. Finding meaningful experiences that you don't feel an obligation to share with someone else is so empowering. My money is spent on me, and my time is spent on things that can fill my soul and only my soul. I don't have to turn to the boy next to me and ask his opinion because right now, I wouldn't care anyway. It took me so long to understand the validity of experiences that I have by myself, and now I get to revel in it.
This understanding of the wholeness I can feel on my own has also allowed me to be a better friend. I know how I feel about things and don't ever feel obligated to water down feelings or passion about something because of how it might reflect on my partner. I have time to dedicate to being with people who make me better and fill my life with the kindness and laughter that I know I deserve. Adult friendships are hard if you do them right and it is great to know what I bring to the table all by myself. My time and my ability to be fully present in my own life and the lives of the people that mean the most to me have become my most precious commodities. Instead of worrying about looking good to attract the attention of a boy at a bar, I can get ready for a night out and unashamedly sweat off all of my makeup dancing with my best friends because I just don't care about any of the boys in the bar anymore.
I'm not saying that being in a relationship is a bad thing by any means. For me though, I worried too much about finding a boyfriend and not about filling my life with me. I'm more aware of who I am and what I want now, so if a man does present himself, I can decide with an unfiltered mind if he is something I want to be included in my life. I am living selfishly and enjoying this time on my own, and I believe this time spent finding myself will make me a better partner if I do end up in a relationship down the line.
Please, please, please be selfish! Go on an "Eat, Pray, Love" adventure. Read a book that makes you cry. Start running. Sit in your room and soak in the silence that is all yours to have. Sit in your room and scream because you don't owe anyone an explanation to what is in your head or coming out of your mouth. Just please know yourself before you give her to someone else.