It’s been on my heart for quite some time to sit down and write an in-depth post on this topic. I know that I have shared so much of myself and my life over the years, but this is definitely going to be one of my most vulnerable pieces and a lengthy one at that. A video of mine on TikTok recently gained a lot of traction (I shared it on IG reels too) and I got asked many times, “How do you embrace your singleness?” With that frequent question at the forefront of my mind and my 37th birthday slowly creeping up, I figured it was finally time to open up and share my thoughts and experience since my own season of singleness has been a very long one.
Let’s Go Back In Time
There are so many layers to this topic and in order for me to answer it fully, I need to go back in time for a moment to explain my dating history and what led me to where I am today. I had two back-to-back relationships in college that pretty much took up my entire 4 years of school. They were not healthy by any means. There were so many red flags that I pretended not to see. I carried a lot of insecurities with me back then and I didn’t know my true worth. I got jealous easily and never felt fully secure in any relationship. It’s difficult to admit that about myself, but it’s been an integral part of my journey over the years.
The first relationship lasted about two years and it traumatized me for many different reasons. I won’t get into all of the details, but so much happened and it was all very unhealthy for me, especially at 19 and 20 years old. He wasn’t a good guy and was involved in a lot of things that I didn’t know about, which essentially caused the demise of our relationship. Well that and he cheated on me – so there’s that. Ultimately, he did me the biggest favor because it finally pushed me out the door.
Not long after, I got into another relationship with someone whom I had such a strong emotional attachment to. This was the first time that I truly felt like I loved someone unconditionally. We were never officially “boyfriend and girlfriend,” but we were together, if that makes any sense. I would never allow myself to be in a situation like that again. He was not the right guy for me. He definitely did not treat me the way I should have been treated and he wasn’t capable of giving me what I wanted and needed.
For some reason though, I could not walk away and we continued this back and forth thing for a very long time. I was easily manipulated and hung on to every word, even if it didn’t hold much truth. It was a vicious cycle. We both lived on campus and I had found out about several other girls. Even then, I still stayed. I wish that I could shake my 21-year-old self and scream, “You deserve more than this!” Eventually though it did end and I walked away. That break-up hurt more than the first one and it stayed with me for a few years. I still remember something a friend told me back then. “You lived before him and you will live after him.” TRUTH.
Both of those relationships had left me feeling like I was not enough and I carried that emotional baggage with me for quite some time. After college I talked to different guys and dated, but didn’t get into another long-term relationship. I had trust issues and continuously got my heart broken. I had a bad habit of going after the wrong guys. I had been cheated on, strung along, lied to and gaslighted. The worst part of all of this is that I allowed it to happen more than once. I sometimes wonder if I was self-sabotaging. By staying in these situations I was basically telling these guys that I accepted their behavior. That was a hard lesson for me to learn.
When Everything Shifted
My world came crashing down the summer of 2010 when my father passed away 3 months after his cancer diagnosis. That’s when everything changed and my perspective on life and dating completely shifted. The only man who had ever loved me unconditionally was no longer here. For the first time in my life I experienced true heartbreak. It literally gutted me and that was the moment that I began to close myself off to love.
I knew that I needed to work on the relationship that I had with myself. Self-love? That was so foreign to me. Enjoying my own company? I didn’t even know what that meant. I had no idea how to embrace my solitude or how to be comfortable with being alone. I had very low self-esteem and wasn’t very confident in my own skin. From my experience in relationships there had always been another girl and because of that I felt like I was not worthy. A lot of the insecurities that I carried with me back then stemmed from those experiences. This was when I realized that I could never be happy in a relationship if I wasn’t happy with myself first. I had to stop relying on guys to give me validation and instead I needed to find that within myself. There was definitely an emptiness within me and I knew that I couldn’t look to a relationship to fill that void.
I was extremely lost in life the first few years after my father died. Suddenly, I had to rebuild everything that had fallen apart around me. Life as I knew it no longer existed. I distanced myself from unhealthy friendships and stopped dating so that I could solely focus on myself and grow in the ways that I needed to. I started this blog and threw myself into creating content daily, determined to make something of myself. I was trying to find my way, but I hadn’t fully learned how to be alone yet.
There were a couple of guys here and there, but nothing ever lasted for too long. The truth is I wasn’t ready to open up my heart yet so I never allowed myself to get emotionally attached again. I knew that I still had so much to work on within myself. I wanted to figure out my career and get my own apartment. I needed to set goals and lean into my passions. For most of my life I had made guys a priority and now it was time to put myself first. My friends said things like, “You’re being too picky” or “You’re making excuses,” but at the time they failed to realize how important it was for me to be alone.
When I Finally Learned To Embrace My Solitude
In 2015, I hopped on a plane alone and took my first solo trip to Ireland. It opened up an entire new world for me. It was the first time that I had ever done something like this on my own. Words can never fully express what that trip did for me. It saved me. I still remember crying at the Cliffs of Moher because for the first time in my life I felt free from so much of what constantly held me back – my grief, my insecurities, my doubts. That’s when my healing truly began. It was liberating.
With each solo trip, I gained more confidence within myself. It’s almost as if each new country I visited revealed another layer that I didn’t know I had. It also helped me shed certain things about myself that I needed to let go of, like the belief that I wasn’t enough. When you’re completely alone, especially in another country, you are forced to answer some difficult questions and come to a lot of realizations about yourself. Traveling alone has opened my eyes to what I am truly capable of and how much I can do on my own. I am enough. I am more than enough.
When I moved to New York City two and a half years ago, I had no idea what living on my own would be like. Sure, I could stay in other countries around the world for a couple of weeks by myself, but could I live alone every day? It was extremely challenging in the beginning as I tried to navigate my way through this new life. And you know what? It still throws obstacles my way at times. When you live alone and work for yourself it can often feel very isolating. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some nights where I cried on the couch with a glass of wine, especially during quarantine.
All of this only strengthened the relationship that I have with myself. The longer that I have been alone, the more I have learned and understood what I’ve needed to work through. These last 5 years have been the most crucial for me on the road to self-discovery. It’s where I have seen the most growth. It has taken a lot of self-awareness to get where I am today and I am still a work in progress. I always will be.
Where I’m At In My Journey Now
I have become so good at being alone that the thought of a serious relationship actually scares me sometimes. I am so used to doing things on my own and taking care of myself that it’s almost as if I don’t know how to be with someone else. It’s the complete opposite end of the spectrum of who I used to be before my father died. This is why I so often say that I have lived two very different lives. The one before he passed away and the one after.
I’m 36 and I haven’t been in an adult relationship. I haven’t experienced unconditional love from a man other than my father. I lost that love and the thought of losing it again has been a fear of mine for so long. I closed my heart off for years, but it’s what I believe I needed to do for myself. It makes me emotional writing this all out because it’s deeply personal and not easy to admit. I hesitated on whether or not I wanted to include this part, but it’s an essential piece to my journey and what I have been working through.
For such a long time, I could not understand why God kept me single. As much as I was not ready to be with someone, I still wanted to be with someone. It was difficult for me to accept that all of my friends were married and starting their own families and in some ways I still felt so lost in my life. I had to shift my mentality and understand that my story is different from those around me and that is ok. It’s been in my “season of waiting” that God has blessed me with the opportunity to find my purpose. That’s when I started to see singleness as a gift.
It’s taken me years to get to this point, but I know now what I want and what I am willing to accept into my life. I know what I am looking for in a partner and what I can bring to a relationship. The guys that I was attracted to back in my 20s were definitely a reflection of the way that I saw myself. All of that has changed now and that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t take the time I needed to work through past traumas. I’m looking for unconditional love and I don’t care if it takes years to find it. I won’t settle and I won’t rush into a relationship just to be with someone.
Embracing Your Singleness
I wish that there was a guidebook I could give to you to follow, but the truth is it’s so different for all of us. All I can do is share my own experience, which I have, in hopes that it could help in some way. The most important relationship that you will ever have is the one that you have with yourself. I heard this all the time growing up, but it was not until after I lost my father that I took it seriously. You have to find happiness and love within yourself first. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long and challenging journey, but one worth taking. Have patience and give yourself grace.
Healthy relationships are a beautiful thing and it’s what most of us hope to find. You can want that for yourself and still choose to be single at the same time. Do not allow society’s expectations to rush you into anything or to make you feel like you are behind in life. If there is an emptiness within yourself, learn how to work through that on your own instead of looking for a relationship to fill that void. Authentic happiness comes from within. You can’t rely on another person to give that to you.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. The two are not mutually exclusive. There are people in relationships who feel lonely and people who are alone that feel fulfilled. Remember that. Are you going to have moments when loneliness creeps in? Of course. When you finally get to a place where you can be comfortable with your solitude, I think that outweighs any loneliness you feel. It actually starts to empower you. At least that is what it has been like for me.
Learning to embrace your singleness is beautiful and you get there little by little. Take yourself out on dates from coffee to lunch to dinner. Go for an overnight stay somewhere or for a weekend getaway. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Revel in the little things and soon enough they become the bigger things. Find your passions and figure out what brings you joy. You have been given the time and opportunity to focus on yourself. Don’t waste it and don’t wait your life away. This is when you uncover so much about your wants and needs. It’s when you grow into the best version of yourself and can feel confident knowing what you bring to the table.
It’s all about a shift in mindset. It takes time to get there, but eventually you do. And when you reach the point where I am at right now, you still have to work at it. It’s ongoing. Trust the process and lean into whatever discomfort you might be feeling right now. You are going to break through it.
I have read this post about a dozen times overanalyzing every word, editing, deleting and re-adding paragraphs. I realized that this doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be honest. There is probably still so much more that I can say on this topic, but I don’t want to make this a long-winded post and overly repetitive. It wasn’t very easy for me to write this if I am being completely honest as it brought up some old emotions and memories. I have come so far and have made so much progress though and I do believe by sharing my experience it can help at least one person who might be struggling. If you have read all the way through until the end, thank you! Thank you for being so open to receiving what I have to share.
I’ll end with this: My heart is finally open again.