The Exercise of Being Single

Female-Workout-Exercises.jpgI’ve been wanting to write this piece about being single for almost a month now. To those of you who read my blog you’re pretty aware of this fact that I am single (single af as the kids would say). This month marked a year of being officially single and I’ve gone through a lot of interesting phases in my being singleness. Because my last relationship ended so toxically, my being single at first was filled with a lot of not looking for anything. I didn’t want to be single because I wanted to be with him, I was still tied up in him and thus being single just meant, “without him”.

Then came, for lack of a better term, my slutty phase, which is a phase that everyone goes through at some point shortly after becoming single. For a while this fluctuated between being the best way to take advantage of being single in my youth and a miserably unfulfilling adventure in loneliness (just incase you thought I wasn’t already being dramatic). But in all honesty this part really was filled with everything from an incredible feeling of exploration to just this emotional space of sadness. People don’t talk about that. People in our generation are always encouraged and encouraging of “getting back on the horse” or “just having fun” as the way to epitomizes being newly single. And to a point I think that’s true, but I have never met a person in this stage that feels 100% okay about being single; because casually hooking up with people is sometimes is lonely and unfulfilling, and humans are wired to at some point want an emotional connection with someone.

And then comes the rebound stage, which some would argue isn’t being single at all, but from my personal experience, this is also a version of being single. Why, you ask (literally no one is asking)? Because a rebound is never labeled as a “boyfriend or girlfriend”, a rebound is somehow always referred to as “the person I’ve been seeing for a while” where a while means less than months. It’s always the point in being single where you really think you’re ready to be in relationship again, which in some cases works. I’ve heard many a story of people getting into a serious relationship or marrying the person they thought was their rebound , but those people really were ready and not just saying it. For me my rebound was exactly like the ex I had just gotten over. He opened up old wounds and made me feel the exact amount of .. smallness I think is the right word, I had felt for 10 months with my ex. I was scared of being single. I was afraid of being alone. I was missing the rhythm and the cadence that being in a relationship brings. I missed the lockstepness of being so familiar with someone that you just always feel comfortable around, not having that after a certain point was hard for me. I just wanted not to be single anymore and anyone who could make that happen was a step up from only wanting to one off flings.

Which is exactly what I went back to after the rebound and I fizzled into nothing, but this time around there wasn’t the same amount of bright side that the first go around brought me. It was all dark, it was all lonely, it was like I was trying to run away from being not just single, but alone, and I was not running in the right direction. I actually didn’t even know which way I was going period, not just relationship wise.

So, with the aid of having a new job I needed to focus on, I took some time off from dating completely. I didn’t make a conscience decision too I just wasn’t that focused on it for a while. I still went on the random first dates with guys that I quickly decided I wasn’t into before we even got to to a second date. It was at that point that being single just felt like a default. I was single, I wasn’t looking but I wasn’t not looking I just had my job to focus on, I had my getting my head back on to focus on, I had long day and short nights and not much time to be the fun or the sad kind of single.
This surprisingly lasted way longer than I thought and in that amount of time I was able to redefine the type of guy and type of relationship I wanted moving forward. The type of guy I was into, the deal breakers, the qualities I found most attractive all became super clear every time I went on a 1st date. It was this feeling of neither hating nor loving the fact that I was single, and spending the time learning from it.

That’s when I decided I wanted to really date again. I no longer was in the mood for just anything, I knew what I wanted and I wanted to explore that, see where it took me. I wanted to go in with an open mind and hopefully come out with someone who I wanted to spend more time with. IT sounds simple right? It’s this place in being single that most people get to as they inch closer and closer to 30. It’s the “I’m not ready to get married but shit most of my friends are better stop fucking around” phase that happens after you’ve had some stuff under your belt, some stories, and findings, and better grip on your life outside of romantic love. It was a phase I was pretty damn sure I was ready for but ended up being a false start.

Que three different guys, all a month apart from each other and all with seemingly great potential for, I don’t know…something? Each made me laugh endlessly on our first date, was definitely my type to an extent, and had as good a time as I was having. Suffice to say, I left each first dates with promises of more to come. And then for some odd excuse reason or another they fell apart somewhere between date two and four. There was this initial excitement, seemingly mutually, and then a sudden hesitancy, as if the brakes of a just moving train had suddenly been put on. Because I had enough time being single that I was keenly aware of the what I did and did not want a relationship to feel like, I always bailed the minute I felt those brakes because that was the beginning of a story I knew the ending to way too well. I’m not about that life anymore.

The 3rd guy out of this trio took the cake. He was funny and smart and interesting. If I typed out the checklist of things I want in my next relationship he would have gotten an easy 90%. Right away, 1st date, we both knew a second date was a no brainer. Because I feel like this will just stay between us (and all the readers of my blog, which I hope assume is not that many) I remember texting my friends “Fuck, this guy is dope! *oh no emoji*. Second date, even better. You know that weird feeling you get when you realize you vibe with someone enough that you immediately do way too much so you don’t fuck it up? On a good day I like to blame the behavior we both exhibited after the 2nd date on that feeling when it backfires. Long story made somewhat less long, I spent a good week pinching myself for the opportunity I lost by acting like a lunatic (jury’s still out on that, I’m still 50% sure I was in the right to behave as such).

All of that, literally all of the above nine paragraphs (honestly if you’ve read far down, bless you) to say….

After the 3rd great guy poofed into dust I had a crisis of faith in dating. I was at the point of being single where you’re just like, “well maybe it’s me”. I had felt a lot of emotions about being single but being completely happy was not one of them. There were times when it wasn’t so bad, there were times when it was actually fun, but there were not times where I consciences decided to be a single person and be okay with that. So 4 weeks ago I made a pack with myself to practice the exercise of being single.

Perhaps this came out of my new recommitment to doing yoga a few times a week, but the concept of working at something you weren’t always thrilled about in aim to better yourself just stuck. I decided no more dating apps, no more first dates, no more complaining about being single, I was going to do the work and practice being more independent, less focused on finding someone, and in the meantime spend some quality time with myself. I always think about how, at some point in the future I’ll have a husband, I’ll have kids, I’l have a life where the moments I’m just by myself doing my own thing becomes rarer and rarer. This time that I have now is precious and fleeting and also not just about having fun and going out with friend but spending time on yourself, by yourself.

And it’s hard work! The first few weekends I had to cheerlead myself up out of bed and enjoy beautiful days with lots of happy couple around (including 99% of my friends who I call my Mon – Fri friends because I never see them on the weekend) alone. I’ve had to find the things I love to do and do them alone. Each week I find myself more and more in tune with who I am, with what I want, and what I need to be a more whole and emotionally available person. Of course this is in hopes to finally get to the point where there’s potential to have a serious relationship again, but I’m being patient, I’m doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do and wanted to do more of and I’m doing them on my own. Just like exercising I can feel myself working my muscles, learning to live without the swiping and the constant talking about one guy or another.

I’ve learned a lot about what it feels like to completely dive into being single and not dating at all. First off I’m boring. At first I was self conscience about it and now I just accept it and embrace the drama freeness it supplies. I’m boring because the bulk of conversations, for women at least, surrounds around their love lives. It’s hard to admit as a feminist who has tons of other topics she can intelligently speak upon, but sadly, my conversations with the females in my life center 40% on other shit and 60% on dating/boyfriend/girlfriend shit. So yeah, the first week all I had to talk about was how I wasn’t really doing anything and how much sleep I was getting. The second week I was desperate to find something to talk and think about. For months I’ve been contemplating actually taking steps to go back to school and with no other distractions I was able to finally take those first steps and then graduate programs were a conversation I got to have a lot. The following week I realized I wanted to change my look. I spent an enormous amount of time looking and talking about hairstyles and my idea for a makeover. The third week I started going to yoga and just being more mindful in general, both of which I talked about a great deal. After spending a few years hating God and religion in general I started climbing slowly back into the spiritual realm, creating a whole other dimension to my outlook on life and conversations in general.

It took practice. I had to retrain my brain not to crave validation and attention from someone. This sounds like a no brainer but you would be surprised how many people lie to themselves that that’s what dating has become about. I had to strive a little more everyday with being okay in the silence, allowing my thoughts to wonder, thinking about my life and the patterns I’ve made in relationships. I’m changing, being consciously single has changed me and I can feel it radiating out in every aspect of my life.

In a few more weeks I may go back to actively dating but for some reason this time out, this 6-8 weeks of being single and fully happy feel likes a triumph to me. This exercise of being single is something most people give up on easily, like every exercise resolutions people who aren’t committed do (no judgement, I’m a frequent quitter of resolutions). But when I hear my friends in relationships ask me how I’m doing it, apart of me feels stronger inside because I am doing it, I’m not just trying to practice being single I’m in the game now folks, and it’s not that hard at all.

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Let’s Just Take A Second to Get Our Shit Together

37EABE1E00000578-3773883-image-a-22_1473049934501 At a certain age you’re suppose to have your shit together. When that is and what that means is up for debate; but I think the general consensus is at some point, in your life, you should probably have most of your shit fairly together.

I think we can also all agree that, that point in your life will not happen in your twenties. Oh I know, some of you will say, “well that may be true in your case…” to which I will counter with, “sure, for me and the vast majority of twenty-somethings in the world right now-  but you are definitely entitled to the facts in your own life.”

In your early twenties you don’t even know what shit is. You scramble from problem to problem, making poor choices with literally no regard for the long term consequences, and you shouldn’t! Without this vital period in your life where bad decision run rampant you wouldn’t know what good decision look like, and I’m pretty sure that’s the main ingredient in having said shit togetherness.

The main reason you can’t have it all together during this stage in your life is also because you don’t realize how much you don’t know. In your mind there’s nothing too big too handle, too confusing to unwind and too expensive to not purchase. You may have experienced hard things but you haven’t experienced real shit and thus your life still exist in extremes, an all or nothing mentality that refuses to see shades of grey.

In your mid twenties you don’t even know where to put all the shit you  need to get together. You still think you’re working off a checklist that announces when you are done but no matter how much you check off it all still settles unevenly. Can pay own bills on time- check. Finally making decent money – check? Living in a place you can barely afford but is your home – check & check! Doesn’t matter that nothing makes sense and you just seem to be accumulating more and more emotional baggage every time you walk out the door. You finally realize you have to get it all together (mind & body) in order to feel your head pop up from beneath the water and stuff just can’t do that.

I hear your late twenties and early thirties is all about balancing your shit so that at random moments it appears and feels as if it’s all together. You don’t actually have any of it figured out, but you somehow become a master at pretending you do and having just enough figured out to sustain a regular existence. That’s at least what I hear, which is why I’m trying to take all my literally shit and all my emotional shit and start digging.

Because I’m a millennial, a scorpio, an extrovert, as well as a self proclaimed “Type A” person I want all my shit together NOW (well not now, yesterday preferably). I want not to feel like things are constantly slipping out of my control and , quite frankly, if they are to not care so much. I want the grey area to stop feeling so grey and if I’m being honest, I want it not to feel as intense as it does right now.

The faking it and figuring it all out is easy, but the doing the work, the actual mental, emotional, and physical work that makes managing all the shit in your life somewhat feasible – we’ll that’s something else entirely. Yet so many of us don’t want to take a second, a beat, a pause, and slow down and do the work so that it does come easily. Our relationships aren’t working out because we don’t want to be alone. Our professional life isn’t growing because we don’t know how to play the game. Our friendships are harder because we don’t want to have a long enough conversations to actually check-in with the people we care about. And don’t even get me started on family drama, I’m starting to realize that shit may never find it’s place on the “together” shelf.

We have to stop thinking it’s a checklist and start seeing it as a map to a better self, because having your shit together could mean a lot of things but most importantly it means seeing your life as whole because you are whole.

So let’s just take a second and get on that.