May 31, 2016

30 Days of Discovering Myself.


I recently took a break from dating. I didn’t even do it on purpose. I had ended one potential relationship, gotten closure from a previous one and found myself at loose ends in the dating arena.

Actually, I still had my Tinder account. I even had a brief, unhappy, encounter with Match. I just got distracted by an entirely different love affair—with myself.

For 30 days, my focus sharpened, but this time it didn’t zoom in on someone else.

I am often guilty of taking excellent care of everyone around me. I’m the sort of person who loves fiercely and often self-sacrifices for those I love. I give my time, my money, myself. I put my all into relationships. And yet, at the end of the day, when I settle my children into bed, I don’t have anyone. It’s just me and my DVR or my latest book. I can sleep on any side of the bed that I want to. I can watch whatever I choose or spend an hour relaxing in a bath with a book. My evenings are my own. Sometimes that’s incredibly lonely. But for 30 days, I found the bliss in being alone.

It wasn’t a plan or a clear intention. I just found myself contented. I cared for my children, took time out to run and lift weights at the gym, took a regular yoga class and spent much of my free time writing. I even took a road trip by myself and just enjoyed exploring a new place. I found all of this incredible joy in just being with myself.

We can become so single-minded in our quest for love that we forget that our love for anyone else can only be strong when we remember to nurture our love for ourselves. It’s important that we work on keeping our love for self alive just as much as we would in a relationship. Sometimes loving ourselves enough requires stepping away from the dating scene (for those of us who are single).

Instead of spending our time getting to know someone else, we can explore ourselves—our own interests, what we enjoy doing when freed from committing our time to others. I was able to remember and return to my love of yoga. I was even able to find the opportunity to go out with friends and dance, something I love but haven’t had the chance to do in years. Whatever it is we enjoy, we can make time for that rather than clearing our schedules for dates.

Instead of trying to figure out text messages or tones in the dating scene, we can try to figure out our patterns of behavior and how our choices have led us to wherever we are right now. I have found that I don’t always value myself enough when it comes to dating. When I really like someone, I often find myself compromising. For example, I dated someone who didn’t value my time. He would show up late for dates, rarely called when he said he would and often canceled on me at the last minute. I adored nearly every single thing about him, but his actions were clearly saying that he didn’t feel the same. Instead of respecting myself enough to say no and walk away, I kept putting myself out there. Want to know what happened? I kept getting hurt in exactly the same way until one day I had enough. I severed all ties, and—I hope—burned that bridge to the ground to keep myself from trying to hot-foot it back over.

When our focus is so much on making a relationship work, we can often neglect ourselves. As much as we’d love to find that special relationship, if we lose sight of who we are, we won’t be happy in it. We need to be strong enough that we’ll only accept the kind of love we deserve. In fact, lately I’ve been thinking that the fact that some men have called me “intimidating” is actually a good thing. Hell, if it narrows down the field, then good. I don’t want a man who can’t handle who I am. I’m a straight-forward person, and it’s best to find out from the start who can deal with that and who can’t. I want a love that’s as fierce as I am, and I need someone who can meet me where I am rather than trying to take me down a peg or two. Only by having time to focus on ourselves can we build up that kind of strength to keep ourselves from settling for any type of companionship just to avoid a sense of loneliness.

For 30 days, I was out of the dating scene, and I was content with my life. I’m not sure why I needed that month really or why I jumped back into dating afterwards. The timing wasn’t planned, but I have found that I am grateful for the month that I took to rediscover myself. It served as a reminder that my life is incredible, and I don’t need anyone else to be a part of it. Sure, sometimes I want to have a relationship that adds to it, but I know that I never have to settle for anything less than the full, beautiful, fierce love that I’m capable of giving to someone else. I don’t have to take mediocre anything—not love, not affection.

I don’t have to settle for someone who doesn’t value my time. Instead, I can practice a little patience and lean into the solitude, knowing that it’s so much better to be alone than to be with someone who makes us feel lonely.





Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: Pixabay

Editor: Travis May

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