I've never been the kind of person that sits back and reflects-that is on my own life. I've been consistently focused on making other people's lives more comfortable, specifically in romantic relationships. I'm the kind of pal that overthinks every conversation, adjusts my entire day around you, but is constantly picking people to offer myself up for that don't provide the same respect in return.
With that being said, I have also been the one to blame in different situations. From letting manipulation take control of my better judgement and turning me into a Crazy Ex Girlfriend to not being honest or straightforward about what I want or don't want, I've caused toxicity as well. These are the patterns I've been reflecting on to try and cease.
Since attending weekly therapy sessions 2 days a week for 3 months now (and PSA every one should go to therapy!), I've gotten the chance to reflect on my choices and find out some of the causes of my stress, unhappiness, and general cynicism. I started with what was easiest to confront, which is-annoyingly-my relationships.
I decided to map out the relationships that I've had, and what I found through me into a spiral for a while. I was blown away and (stupidly) ashamed by the obvious patterns I found in my life. Since the age of 14 I've never been without another person. Since 7th grade, I've gone from one long term relationship to the next and-yes, I realize how weird it is for 7th graders to have long term relationships-but that's how I liked it.
Even after my rough split with my longest partner, I found myself trying (and failing) to jump into a new long-term relationship. It didn't click for me until over a year after said rough split that what I needed was not another someone but to reflect, deal with my own grievances, and stop the patterns I was so accustomed to continuing.
In my few months of singularity, I have come to realize a few very important things that I think other people can choose to reflect on as well. In the high that we're in of Ariana Grande's epic song Thank U, Next, I ask all of us to reflect on what's going on in our lives and realize that you (singularly) are in control of your own happiness.
I'll start with the most important realization: I have a voice. I have talents. I'm an individual. I have interests outside of the people I pick to make me feel small. In the months I've spent without another person, I've been able to build back some of the shattered parts of me caused by past toxicity. I've been able to, slowly, and with the help of friends (and my therapist) realize that I don't have to feel insignificant, dumb, that I won't amount to anything, and if I pick someone who likes to tear me down, I can proudly Thank U, Next them.
I've also found that now I know exactly what I want and don't want from a future relationship. For instance, I don't want someone that is going to limit my freedom but someone that encourages me to be the best version of myself. We don't have to settle for the people that offer us a few good moments in exchange for a lifetime of horrible ones.
I've found that I don't have to change anything about myself in order to be in a relationship because the only person I need to be accommodating to is myself. I'm a firm believer in loving yourself before loving anyone else and although this has been one of the hardest struggles for me during the 19 years I've been alive, I've been able to regain some confidence in the natural person that I can one day be proud of.
I've realized that I need to calm down and be patient when it comes to finding "the one". As a romantic, it's hard for me to not want to be married right now or at least know who the lucky person will be. However, in my time alone, I've realized that one day there's going to be someone that likes and loves me on the worst days and I think that's worth waiting for. And if it turns out that I never find that person, I think I can be fine with only my own company, which is something I would have have never been able to say before.
Lastly, I've realized that being alone is great and I have way more time for activities.
If anyone reads this article and wants to get anything from it, I'll end by saying: take time out of your day to reflect, create your own happiness, NEVER settle, 'Thank U, Next' the awful people in your life, and go to therapy!