Hey, Soul Sister

In my day to day life, I tend to pride myself on being on time.  For job interviews I’m always 15 minutes early.  Doctors appointments are the same way.  I’m consistently in the parking lot at work 3 minutes before I’m supposed to be there.  I hate feeling like I have to rush anywhere to be on time.  And I REALLY hate being late.  I avoid it at all costs.

It should be no wonder then, that watching friends and family grow up, get engaged, married and start families while I am still single, has been difficult for me.  I always thought that my life would follow the same general course of events as my parents.  I would meet a guy in college, get married and have kids by the time I was in my mid twenties.  And now as I’m staring down the barrel of my 26th birthday and have only been in one (short) relationship in the last several years, I am met with mixed feelings.  Because despite being on this journey of finding myself I’ve often felt like I’m running late.  That my life isn’t where it is supposed to be.  And while it may be foolish to think that I am running out of time, my mind inevitably goes there with every wedding invitation or baby announcement that comes in the mail.

And so, my feelings of running behind and missing out on life only add to the boy-crazy inherently in me and cause major problems.  My mind tells me that I’m behind, that my life was supposed to be different, things weren’t supposed to happen this way.  And I get frustrated and impatient and I want to make things happen before their time.

But none of this changes the fact that in 2010 the average age of women getting married was 26 years old.  Obviously there is something in today’s culture that is hinting at (or maybe shoving me towards) my desire to settle down.  And while that is a goal that I have for my future, I have decided that I am taking 2012 off.  I am not worrying about things like that.  My ‘break-up’ with boys is something that needs time to settle into my bones.  I have to learn to be okay with just being me down to the core.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction that I have gotten from people in my life since beginning this journey.  Because even though I officially ‘started’ it only 2 days ago, I have been thinking and praying over it for about a month now.  Everyone I have talked to has been amazingly supportive, but I have to admit- I was nervous about telling my parents.

On Saturday (New Years Eve) I went shopping with my mom.  I got in the car and looked at her and said “I have something I have to tell you.”  She got that nervous ‘uh oh’ look that I’m sure moms everywhere would recognize.  I explained to her (with a little crying) that I was tired of being this girl who measures her worth based on what guys think.  I told her about my reasons for wanting to do this and even though I knew she would support me in it, I was afraid to tell her.  The ‘always waiting’ girl inside me was scared to talk about it.  Because talking about it with Mom meant that it was real.  I could tell anyone else and it would just be an idea, but Mom made it tangible.  It went from being this far away ‘maybe’ of a thought to an actual plan, and that scared the crap out of me.

During the course of my conversation with my mom, she asked me one serious, thought provoking question.  “Why a year?”

I have actually thought long and hard about that question since she and I talked.  And here’s what I’ve come up with. A year is enough time to be a challenge, but also long enough to make it stick.  It would be easy for me to say “I’m taking a month off.”  Or even two months.  But would I really see the changes that I want to see in myself?  Will I really give myself the time I need to heal, to fix the broken pieces inside me and find a way back to the girl I could be?  I don’t think I would.

But a year… 12 months, 366 days.  It’s long enough to keep myself from making excuses (which I’m extremely good at).  It’s long enough to see a change in myself.  My goal isn’t to force myself away from guys.  In fact, my goal has very little to do with men at all.  On the contrary, it’s about learning to love myself.  Learning to BE myself BY myself FOR myself.  Men may come and go… but I’m stuck with myself for life.  If there is anyone in this world I need to learn to love, it’s me.

And so, this is my great unveiling of my ‘bucket list’ for the year.  Below is my list of 25 things that I want to accomplish before Dec 31, 2012.  And the accomplishments are just for me.  Through them, I hope to become the person I’m meant to be.  And I hope to discover just how much that girl can be loved.

  1. Get and stay right with God.  “In all your ways acknowledge Him.”
  2. Lose 25 lbs
  3. Get a tattoo
  4. Take a roadtrip
  5. Take a class (photography/cooking)
  6. Spend a day at the best spa you can afford
  7. Have photos taken of you that you actually like
  8. Evolve your look
  9. Finish story (I’ve been stuck in the middle of it for a year already)
  10. Build and stick to a budget
  11. Learn how to spend TIME wisely
  12. Volunteer
  13. Buy yourself flowers, just because
  14. Invest in a Little Black Dress
  15. Buy something frivolous and expensive that you LOVE wearing.
  16. Host a girls-only night
  17. Purchase a decent piece of furniture not previously owned by a family member
  18. Dress up just because
  19. Plan a summer concert tour- even if it’s just a short one
  20. Be spontaneous (day, weekend, who knows!)
  21. Create.  2 craft projects a month
  22. Purge.  Spring clean every room in the house.
  23. Yard Sale/Flea Markets on weekends.  Give old things new life.
  24. Read. 2-3 books/month
  25. Take pictures. Everywhere.

I’m not claiming it will be easy.  I’m not claiming it will always be fun (okay, the spa thing will be fun), but it is something that is necessary.  There’s a lot of year left and huge list of things to do!

Be brave,

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All The Single Ladies

I know that New Years is often about making changes or resolutions.  Unfortunately, most of the time, it seems like the changes don’t stick.  We crash diet and buy gym memberships.  We give up coffee or sugar or swearing.  We always have good intentions.  And somewhere along the line, we lose sight of what we wanted when we made the resolution.  We slip up.  We give in.  We decide, consciously or subconsciously, that the changes we wanted to make aren’t worth it.

I’ve never been much of one for resolutions.  But something about this year is different. For the first time in my life,  I took a good, long look at myself- and I can honestly say, I didn’t like what I saw.

I’m not talking physically, although there is definite room for improvement there.  My problem is more than skin deep.  Because in my entire adult life, I can’t remember a time when I’ve been happy being single.  And so, this year is different.  I’m not making a resolution; I’m not feeding into the good intentions that will inevitably lead back to my past self within two weeks.  This time around, I’m making a lifestyle change.  I’m choosing a different path.  I’m creating a new me.

Let’s start with the basics and go from there.  Call it a man detox, call it a hiatus or a cleanse.  Regardless of what you call it here it is:  366 days (2012 is a leap year after all) of simply no men.

The Rules

  1. No Dating
  2. No Relationships
  3. No Dating Sites
  4. No flirting with the intention of dating
  5. Nothing physical (kissing, cuddling, etc.)
  6. No ‘future’ relationship talk
  7. No boy behavior dissecting (except what is needed for this blog)

The Background

When I was in high school, I would have categorized myself as boy crazy.  I’m not sure if I was normal boy crazy, or a different category of boy crazy- but I can recall specific instances of obsessive behavior that makes the current me shudder.  Before cell phones and Twitter and Facebook and texting, my friends and I would sit in class and write each other notes,

fold them into wacky- origami like shapes, and pass them to each other in the halls between classes.

Most of those notes were about different boys that we liked.  Somehow, we consistently found pages and pages worth of information to discuss and dissect every single day about these boys.  Some of it was legitimately worth the hype over which we gave it, but for the most part, we spent our time overanalyzing the tiniest things that the respective boys in our lives probably weren’t even aware they were doing, or were simply doing out of friendship.

Over the subsequent years, I thought that this behavior had dissipated.  In fact, for a while, I thought that the longing that I felt to be in a lasting relationship- the urge to get married and have kids and a life and a family was something normal and natural.  But in truth, what I felt for all this time was that I was waiting for my life to begin.  I lived in a constant state of single and looking- or of dating and fantasizing about the years to come.  And through all the heartache and first dates and crush hazes I never realized how miserable I was just being single.  I never realized that I was sitting so eagerly on the sidelines watching everyone else live their lives instead of embracing the person I was as a single and getting out there and doing all of the things that I’ve always wanted to do in my life.

In April of 2011, during a particularly ‘lonely and looking’ time in my life, I had an idea for a story.  The basic line follows three friends in varying states of relationship drama who decide to make a pact and take 90 days to do everything they always said they wanted to do before they settled down.  During these 90 days they would be boy free.  No drama, no dating, no flirting, nothing.  It was a challenge for them to prove to themselves that they didn’t need a man to be happy.  (I know, I know, can you say foreshadowing?)

Anyway- the story writing was interrupted by my quitting one job and searching for another and then put on indefinite hiatus when something incredible happened.  I met a guy.  And let me tell you- this guy was amazing.  Because despite all of the crazy man drama that I have had in the past (and trust me, I’m sure you’ll learn about some of it here) I finally found a good, decent guy who was interested in me.  The following six months of pure bliss that I felt with this guy made me forget all about the fact that I was trying to find a way to be happy without a man.  He was everything I wanted in a guy.  I thanked God for this man every day.  I finally felt like my fairy tale ending was coming true.  And then one day it was over.  Just as quickly and as beautifully as it began, it was all gone.

And I wanted to be devastated.  I wanted to sit in my room for days and cry and yell at God and just be miserable.  But I wasn’t.  The decision that he made completely changed the course of my life as I had imagined it.  But it didn’t end my life.  It wasn’t the end of my world.  And in fact, things stayed pretty much the same for me.  God gave me peace and strength that I’ve never felt before.  I got up in the morning, I went to work.  I did all the things I had done in a regular day and I knew for the first time almost immediately following a break up, that I was going to be okay.

In talking with a friend who knew about the story idea, I mentioned in passing that I was thinking about taking a year off from men.  Her reaction was this:  “your mind came up with that story idea for a reason”.  The more I thought about it, the more a man fast appealed to me.

The Now

I know I’m not the only person out there that has these feelings.  The above clip proves that I’m not the only one.  I’m starting this blog, not for attention, but in attempts to reach out to others like me.  Women who are desperate for their lives to start.  Women who have been waiting for a guy to come along and make them happy.  Women who have been sitting on the bench waiting.  Our waiting needs to stop.  This blog is my attempt to discover how great life can be as a single.  Part self help, part humor, part nostalgia- this is my attempt to find the real me.  The me that God sees lurking behind all the pain and heartbreak and fear.  One year is my goal.  366 days of not focusing on finding a life partner, but instead doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do and always put off.  A year of healing and self discovery has just begun.

Stay tuned for more.  Next up is my ‘bucket list’.  25 Things that I want to do during my year of singleness!

To all the women out there like me,
Be Brave,

*Thanks to Kayla for editing the video clip.