After a tearful, dramatic goodbye, I was single again after roughly two years in a relationship. I had just turned 22 and, as foolish as it sounds now, I felt like I’d been complicit in dealing a death sentence to my own love life. Without a doubt, it was over for me. And I had to pick up the pieces of my own broken heart, too.
To call it a dramatic moment, and the gateway to a period of major self-doubt, would be an on-point observation. But the days passed. I made progress on some days and I took steps backward on others. Eventually, though, I moved on. And I entered one of the most eye-opening, personally satisfying periods of my life.
Was my love life really over? At 22, I had thought so. But more failed starts in the six years since then have helped me realize that it’s never over, no matter how much my self-loathing convinced me that it was. In reality, my life was just getting started, and it’s been an amazing journey since then.
At that point in time, I rationalized that all of the truly good girls would be scooped up by the time college was over. Now, a statement like that just feels like the misguided naiveté of a kid with no real concept of real love.
Sure, I still believed in authentic love – just as long as it happened before I was 30. Why? Because that’s how true love is supposed to work, I reasoned. On a schedule that’s conveniently predisposed to match my life stages.
Of course, I’m being sarcastic, but the only reason it’s even slightly humorous is because it really is the way that our generation operates mentally. We move through our 20s with marriage in our sights. And if we make it to 30 without having tied the proverbial knot, we drown our sorrows in the thought that somehow we missed our chance. That love is only sexy and meaningful in our 20s. After that? It’s everyone else scrapping for leftovers. Sound about right?
Yes, there are several burdens and life milestones that are implicitly expected to be stricken from the life checklist in your 20s. The same way there’s pressure to lock ourselves into a career path and, hopefully, throw down a deposit and enter into a mortgage on our first property, too. If we miss one of those, we’re made to feel – either by someone else, or by our own guilt – that we missed the boat.
It’s not true. I’m kicking 29’s door down these days, and I don’t have any of the ‘big three’ – a locked-in career path, a mortgage or a marriage. But more and more, I’m good with where I am on any given day. Why? Because it’s a complete waste of time to consider what I don’t have or could have, when the fact of the matter is that I have a lot of things that other people don’t. I’m blessed no matter what someone else’s script for my 20s looks like.
I don’t even know what you do with your life, but guess what? You’re blessed, too. A relationship is awesome, but ask anyone who’s in one and they’ll tell you that it’s not more important than their happiness; it’s just part of it. And guess what? You might have a lot more happiness than they do. Don’t ever dream of trading places. Make your situation better every single day, and do it because that’s the way life should be lived. Bottom line.