"You'll be the girl who dates in college."
That comment, made in passing by multiple family members as they looked back on my non-existent track record when it came to relationships in high school, echoed throughout my mind for four years. I believed them. I thought for sure college would be my time to date around, have some fun, but ultimately find the person I was going to marry. Although getting married in college was never my plan, 18-year-old me did expect to find the man I would one day marry and to be in a serious relationship when I walked across that stage come graduation day.
However, reality had something different in mind.
While I did have one boyfriend in college, I didn't seriously date much. I became known as a perpetual first dater — getting it to be something much more than dinner and a movie or a couple Netflix and chill sessions back in my dorm was a struggle. It took up until I walked across that graduation stage completely single, not tied down even causally by a guy, that I realized I didn't find my future husband in college.
It's hard not to feel down by this, especially when you have had so much of the American dream ideally shoved down your throat. Every time I watch yet another high school classmate get engaged or have a baby or even just stay in a happy and secure relationship, I feel like a failure, even with my degree.
However, here's what I have begun to realize — I may not have found my future husband in college, but I did find so much more.
The point of college is NOT to find someone to marry. It's not to date around. The point of college is to get an education, to secure your degree, to find yourself and figure out what you want in life. The mindset that I had, and that many others have, that has us walking across that stage after accomplishing A LOT feeling like we haven't done a damn thing because we didn't find someone to marry is toxic.
In college, I found myself. I found my talents and learned how to quickly align them with what I'm passionate about. I actually grew to love myself, something that was a long time coming. I no longer looked in a mirror and picked out every little thing I hated — instead, I saw someone who was beautiful and intelligent and strong, regardless of her flaws. This kind of growth is revolutionary and anyone who has known me for a long time knows it. I've come a long way, and I should be proud of this, not beating myself up for graduating single.
While there's nothing wrong with finding your person in college, that's not what we pay thousands of dollars for. College should be a time spent focusing on getting an education and developing the technical skills you need to succeed in your future career. You should focus on finding yourself and doing things that help better you. If you're doing that right, the right people will come your way. This doesn't always mean that you'll meet a romantic partner, because that's not what everyone needs to succeed and be happy. Finding yourself, loving yourself, and being proud of how far you've come means so much more than a ring on your finger ever will.