After a much needed talk from a co-worker the other night, I realize what a gift it is to be independent. Not just as a women, but also as a man. It’s incredible that on any given day you can be so comfortable with yourself, and you believe nothing stands in your way.
I think most of the time people learn how to be independent when they are alone: when you’re alone you have a lot more time to think. By no means am I suggesting that you cannot be independent when you’re in a relationship. In fact, I’m certain, that long distance makes you rely on your independence.
However, being single opens the doors to a whole new life of independence.
The word independent is scary: It reminds us that we’re alone in some way, yet we’re also forced to face ourselves daily. We are forced to sit down, at the end of the day, and think about our actions, words, and decisions. Being independent is far more than being comfortable with sitting alone in your favorite restaurant booth. Being independent means understanding who you are without anyone else telling you what to be.
I thought for a long time that I had natural independence. Again, I had a wakeup call the minute I broke up with my ex-boyfriend X. I wanted to message him all of the time, I didn’t know what a routine looked like without him walking me to and from classes, and I didn’t really see my purpose in other people’s lives without him.
Being single is equally as scary. At least that’s what I thought…
For almost my entire dating life (8th grade, if we should count that, up until now) I felt I needed to be in a relationship. All of these relationships have taught me numerous lessons about myself, that I’m certain of. But I’ve never given myself the time to be alone. I was never able to sit down and really think about who I was, what I aspired to be, and what my future looked like without anyone else in the picture.
I guess in this sense you can call my bluff about ‘single advice’, but being in a long distance relationship is a lot like being single. You’re often alone, working around your own schedule. You spend a lot of quality time with yourself and thinking about how you are going to be better for your significant other. It’s okay to be alone. And you also have a lot of freedom and room to grow through independent experiences .
When you’re single you have time to think. You can pretend to be anybody, you have time to be genuinely exhausted, you even have time to get all dolled up and go out. (You also have time to do this when you’re in a relationship, but you have more time to do these things as a single person).You can do anything you want when you’re single though: You may decide to date or just play the field. It is in this time that you have more opportunity than any other point in your life to be who you are—single.
Well what the heck was I so afraid of? I’ll tell you. I was afraid to face my own thoughts. I was afraid to sit down and think about the people I’ve hurt trying to be someone I’m not. I was afraid to admit my wrongs, or even my faults. I was afraid to come to terms with all of these things. Being single meant I had to do these things, because I wasn’t seeing anyone who would tell me what to fix/ assure me nothing needed to be fixed.
As long as I was in a relationship, someone was loving me even through the icky parts. This also meant that I didn’t have to work hard at those icky parts, and I didn’t have to think about them. I could lie to myself and say “someone loves you, so your baggage doesn’t matter”. The truth is though, it does matter: it matters because years from now that baggage still weighs heavy on my heart, and probably on yours too.
Being single meant being independent. And while I was fine sitting alone in the booth, walking to class by myself, and shopping alone—I wasn’t okay with thinking about who I was deep down. Being independent is laying your head down at night and thinking about your actions, their repercussions, and how you’re going to be a better you.
Thankfully I was blessed to meet my current boyfriend, who really does love me through my baggage, faults, and wrongdoings. The important thing to remember is that I didn’t attract him just because I was single and was having so much fun. I attracted him because I was really independent and working through my tough-to-face issues. I was addressing things to be a better me.
The only difference was that this time, nobody asked me to work on things. I did it because I wanted to: that’s independence.
Although our long distance relationship is passionate, it’s also really tough. It paved the way for both him, and I, to learn who we want to be in these vital years. It’s taught us how to be ourselves without one another. It’s taught us how to be the best visions of ourselves for one another. Though it’s tough to see other couples day-to-day holding hands and kissing goodbyes, I wouldn’t change these two years. Not at all.
It would be ideal to say goodnight rather than goodbye; but in these years I’ve been able to do some thinking about dreams, myself, and my morals, and why they mean so much to me.
In the context of Runaway Bride and Julia Roberts, I’ve finally been able to answer “how do you like your eggs?” I always listened to whatever music my significant other liked, ordered what they liked, dressed how they liked, etc. It took these last two years to realize I like my eggs over-medium with a little bit of yoke. Z likes his scrambled without cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. I’m finally okay knowing that we have these differences, it’s what makes us uniquely independent.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated this process and how much learning I’ve done. It hasn’t been an easy process, by any means. Being single, or in my case alone, is the toughest, yet best experience people can give themselves. I promise, you’ll learn how to order your eggs, and what radio-station to tune into. Do yourself the favor though, and give yourself time to contemplate those questions as an independent person. Spend some quality time with you: I promise you won’t regret it.