I've heard it said that to be of value to another you have to first be of value to yourself. I decided to put this statement to the test in July of 2017 when I decided to swear off guys until 2018. 2017 was one hot mess of a year for dating for me. I wasn't attracting the kind of men I wanted to be with and I felt like every time I met someone I only made very surface level connections.
I realized the problem wasn't the guys but with me. The reason I wasn't finding any valuable connections was that I wasn't a person of value to myself. I hung out with toxic people that I could care less about, I participated in activities I hated and had a job working as a dog trainer that I couldn't stand.
After making this realization I decided my life needed a major makeover. One that could not be completed if I was constantly putting my time trying to find my value in others. So I made a promise to myself to swear off guys until 2018. During this time I was going to find what made my life valuable and what about myself made me valuable.
Right as I made this promise I was leaving to study abroad in Peru. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to begin my journey of finding value in my life. My program in Peru was focused on indigenous rights and legal pluralism. For the program, we got to go to an indigenous community and help them gather evidence of illegal mining. Our program was split between the Amazon and the city of Lima.
When I wasn't in class I explored a different place in Lima almost every day I was there and once my studies were done I spent my free time flying between Lima and Cusco exploring as much as I could. This time abroad made me realize I have a love for traveling, museums, hiking, and a need to be involved in something meaningful.
Once I got back to the US I decided to not reach out to the people I hadn't talked to all summer that I used to consider my closest friends. I also joined the Mock Trial Team at my school and decided that this would be my main focus of the year. I became chair of the team and got the two witnesses I was hoping to get.
I threw myself into creating different theories, writing questions, and reading case documents. Around this time I also got a job directing the plays at the high school I went to. Much like Mock Trial, I threw myself into it. I lived for the days I would get to go see my kids. We had some of the most fun times playing theatre games and working on the scenes. Finally, I was involved in activities that gave my life value.
Through this different activities, I began meeting people who were genuine and caring. My friend group began to change and suddenly the people I was hanging out with were completely different from the people I was hanging out with at the start of the semester. These new friends made me feel loved and appreciated.
They didn't judge me and were always there to support me and help me become the best version of myself. For once I felt like I was making meaningful memories with people would be lifelong friends.
Due to these factors my mental health started improving, my grades started improving, and most importantly I started seeing myself as a woman of value. Without the distraction of trying to make it work with men, I'd meet out or on Tinder, I was able to find myself as a person. The time I used to spend mindlessly chatting online or getting ready for dates was spent developing myself and my life.
However, that doesn't mean that I didn't still have my Tinder. I did I just didn't message people back on it. Until one day I matched with a guy I went out with on some dates back in spring. He reached out to me and for some reason, I felt compelled to message back.
We ended up hanging out and the difference between the first time around and this time was that I actually had things to talk about in my life. I wasn't that girl anymore whose only activity she liked best was going out with her friends.
Suddenly I was someone who enjoyed museums, traveling, hiking, Mock Trial and directing. Because I felt like a person of value I was able to feel like I had something to offer someone and ended up making a very meaningful connection.
I never thought my oath to swear off men would end up leading me to a relationship. But it did and I wouldn't have done my last few months of 2017 any other way.