Maybe I’m weird. It’s occurred to me; it’s not you, it’s me. Maybe it is.
I’m 26, and I’ve never had a serious boyfriend.
I’ve gone on dates. I’ve had that awkward “talking” type of relationship (which, I still don’t totally understand what that even means, but everyone knows it’s a thing). But I haven’t had the serious, exclusive label. And, while it bothers me at times, for the most part I think I’m okay with it.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times where it really bothers me, like I begin to freak out that I’m never going to meet my future husband, be single forever, never have any children and die alone and miserable. Then I remember I’m only 26. People are living more and more into their nineties. I’m just getting started. While my mom already had three kids at 26, and my friends are starting to have kids, I know I still have my entire life ahead of me. There are 12 years between my parents. Before my dad met my mom, he was thinking that he’d never get married or have kids because of where he was in life. And then my dad met my mom, thirty years or so passed, and they had four kids. Just that example – my parents – shows how people reach milestones at different ages.
It is really hard not to judge your life against someone else’s and worry that you aren’t hitting the right milestones. While I might not have the relationships I thought I would by 26, I’ve accomplished other things I didn’t think I would. I never even planned on going for a Master’s degree, then I had one by the time I was 24. While being a published writer was always the goal, I definitely didn’t expect to achieve it by the time I was 22. So, yeah, it’s important to remember that everyone’s timeline is different. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to live your life when it comes to these things and they each come with their own challenges no matter when it happens. And if you’re going to be single in your 20’s, nothing good will come from moping about it. But there’s plenty of potential in taking advantage of the time! Have a good time. The ball is entirely in your court.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t suck to be single in your 20’s. Why it sucks to be single could be an entire blog post on it’s own, maybe two. And this time of year, meaning from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, it can be harder because there’s so many events for couples, topped with a holiday specifically for couples and celebrating romance and you’re chilling alone. Yeah, you can “Treat Yo Self” or celebrate Galentines or snag some ½ off chocolate the day after Valentine’s Day, but it’s not exactly the same.
So we know it isn’t always fun being single, but there are some reasons why it’s A-Okay to be single and why you should take advantage of it. Also, real quick disclaimer – there’s nothing saying you can’t do some of these things when you’re in a relationship. Just some of them might be easier when you’re single or they’re adaptable to when you’re in a relationship. I’m just going off of what I know as a – cue Beyonce – “Single Lady.” Presenting, fifteen reasons why:
- Learn about yourself: This is the main point throughout it all. When you’re single, you spend a lot of time with you, yourself, and your thoughts. It’s a time to learn about yourself. You’re independent, take advantage of it. Learn what you can handle. Learn what you like. What do you want out of life? This is a great time to ponder the question when it isn’t directly impacting another person’s life
- Grow: Here’s main point number two. This is the time to be selfish. You have the time to work on yourself and become the best version of yourself. Take some time to self-reflect. Taking up meditation gives you many opportunities to self-reflect and learn about yourself. It is a test in patience. And if you can’t be patient with yourself, how are you going to be patient with anyone else? Many of these other reasons are opportunities to grow. Through growth, you might just become a better partner for your future relationships. I hope the future Mr. Tori (he’s probably going to hate reading this possibly someday just for that) appreciates that and that it helps our future, currently nonexistent relationship.
- You Do You: Again, be selfish. When you are in a relationship, most, and certainly all significant, of your decisions are going to impact another person and how he’s living his life. Right now, you really don’t have to worry about that. Yeah, it can impact other people, but right now you might just be providing for yourself and no one else. Do you. Enjoy that independence.
- Meeting New People – Never know who you can meet! There’s a world beyond dating apps. I’m trying to find myself in it more often. But by going to different things – trying new bars, 21+/Adult only nights, fitness events, trivia nights, whatever else, you never know who you might meet. And it doesn’t have to be finding a potential partner. You might just make new friends along the way. Make a connection that’ll benefit your professional network. Hell, maybe you’ll find a new favorite watering hole when you try a new bar. Expand your circle! It’s a small world, but you can see more of it.
- Figure out what you want from a relationship: Most likely, you’re going to go on some bad dates. Or have someone try to set you up and it just will not, I repeat, will not work and you’re in an awkward position that can lead to the Worst Date Ever. But! Use those experiences to your advantages. It’ll help you figure out what you do not want when it comes to a relationship. You’ll figure out what irritates you and what you’re attracted to. Living life, you’ll realize what’s important to you and your non-negotiables. That doesn’t mean don’t create a cookie cutter and get pissed when you don’t find your made-to-order-boyfriend. But it’ll give you an idea.
- Experience the world: Want to travel? Go with who you want. Go alone. There is an entire world out there. When you aren’t “tied down,” you can have some test runs on things – and maybe you’ll have the perfect vacation spot to suggest when you and your S.O. travel in the future!
- Be okay with being alone: Not long ago, I read that you have to be okay with being alone to be have a healthy relationship. It made sense. You’re going to be with someone a good portion of your time. Know that you can be by yourself too. Love your own company. Use it as another opportunity to get to know yourself better. It honestly amazes me how many people don’t like going out to eat by themselves – I enjoy it. I love the time, especially during the work day, to just sit around with my thoughts or not have to think at all. No expectations. That’s the other thing. There’s no expectations when you’re by yourself. That’s not a bad thing. Although, I’ve never done the movie by yourself thing, which doesn’t make sense, because it’s not like you’re talking during the movie; you’re sitting in silence for approximately two hours. Be okay with being alone and embrace the independence. It could be the missing half to someone else!
- Learn from experiences: Just because things didn’t work out doesn’t mean there isn’t a lesson to be learned. It doesn’t have to be negative either. Maybe you learned to never have sushi on a first date. Maybe you found something you loved to do from going on dates. Maybe you always saw yourself marrying a doctor and realized that the schedules weren’t going to mesh. That you think blue eyes are cute when you’ve always noticed hazel before. What a good beer is. What topics not to talk about during the first few dates. Learn something from everyone you meet.
- Find your passion: You have the time. Not that you won’t when you are dating someone, but right now it might be a little bit easier to schedule in. Take a cooking class. I’ve taken up knitting and meditation. Recently, I’ve also tried boxing and spinning which I really enjoyed. Learn how to shoot. Go golf. Volunteer somewhere. Find joy in doing something other than your job. Also – you never know who you might meet!
- Choose when to make dating a priority: You might have to be a stickler one this. The only good thing that came out of me hitting rock bottom (other than eventually recovering, but I mean actually during) is that my friends stopped asking me if I had met someone or if there was a new guy in my life. That is unnecessary stress. And when I was pre-breakdown anyways, I wasn’t really in a good spot to be dating. I think I’m just getting back to that point. But it was great when people weren’t asking me if I had met anyone when I hadn’t met anyone.
- Figure out the adulting thing: I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to adulting. I kind of feel better knowing that my mistakes are just impacting me. And I also have a sense of accomplishment when I do something on my own, sometimes I feel like I need to develop my independence better. It is also a good time to make career times. I’m not going to lie, and this is going to sound selfish, but I’m glad I was single when I was getting my Master’s degree. I worked full time and did the Master’s program online. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I’m glad I only had me to worry about.
- Don’t take the time with friends and family for granted: Right now you aren’t splitting your time with another person’s schedule. You have the time to schedule as you see fit. Take advantage of the time you can spend with your friends and family. Now might be the best times to go out on vacations with your friends before you all are going potentially in different directions and then potentially throwing kids into the mix. Life only gets crazier. Everyone won’t be around forever. Take advantage of time while it’s easier. When will you ever regret spending more time with the people you love?
- Less stress and drama-free, maybe? Relationships can be messy. You have two people spending the majority of their time together, things can get testy at times. It’s only natural. When you’re single, you’re making all the rules. But while it might be “simply single,” we all know “single sucks” is a thing too and that relationships have their simple aspects too.
- Do something crazy: What is holding you back? If not now, when? Why not now? You never know where life is going to take you – take advantage of the moment. Do something crazy, you might just amaze yourself with what you can do.
- Never know when the opportunity to feel the thrill of meeting someone new will come, who you might meet, and if they’re the One: I’ve heard from people time and time again about how soon they knew that the One was the One, as soon as a look or on the first date. When you’re single, there’s going to be time where you feel like you’ll be single forever, but there will also be times when you’re feeling hopeful too and the “hopeless romantic” might peek out of you. And it’s exciting! It is exciting that any night you might go out, you might run into someone, and that person is going to completely change your life. Someday, there’s going to be one meeting that could change everything. How cool is that? At least, I think it’s cool to think about. You just never know how or when or why! At some point you’re going to come to the realization that – and imagine this in marquee lights – THIS IS IT! THE SEARCH IS OVER! To quote Adele, maybe he’ll “look like a movie” and “sound like a song” because, you know, there’s about a million and then movie and song cliches about meeting The One. Maybe one will hit the mark.
Being single doesn’t mean you’re destined to be the crazy cat lady (Gonzo, my cat, might say I’m already a crazy cat lady). It just might mean the timing just isn’t right yet. Maybe you’re waiting for when it will be, and you don’t realize it but the actions you’re taking now might be leading you right to meeting The One.
It’s a time for growth. Take advantage of it. That’s not to say you won’t grow in a relationship because, duh, you will; your choices are impacting someone else’s life and yours is being impacted, things are going to change. But this time to grow is essentially all on you. Do it.
A saying that I love is that God laughs at your plans because I feel like I’ve experienced it. I’ve had all of these plans – like I talked about earlier – and then life throws a few curveballs. So, yeah, God or whatever greater power you believe in laughs when we make plans. It’s a collective laugh. Has anyone’s life in the history of forever followed their thought-out plans without any alterations?
Pretty sure that’s a no.
Practicing mindfulness has really helped me roll with the punches, and I do think that it has helped me be better with being single. The future Mr. Tori will walk into my life whenever he’s ready. Until then, I’m going to get my ½ off chocolate after Valentine’s Day and enjoy the ride.