Your 20s are the perfect time to be single: You're of legal age and you can work, travel and explore the world without having too many major responsibilities.
Most of us are familiar with relationships and some of us are in them. If, however, you are in your 20s and have been in a serious, long-term relationship for most, if not all, of these precious years, you NEED to read this article.
I have been in and out of relationships, time and time again, and don't actually remember ever being alone for very long. Now that I'm 21 years old and have been single for just over a year, I can honestly say that it has been the most enlightening, liberating, self-fulfilling and successful year of my life.
I am not anti-relationships. I am not here to advise you to get out of whatever relationship you are currently in, nor do I aim to degrade the existence of relationships in any way. A relationship, with the right person, can be inspiring, uplifting and possibly make you the happiest you have ever been.
However, a relationship with the wrong person often ends in heartbreak and tough life lessons.
We must all navigate this heartbreak; there's simply no escaping it. However, bad relationships can show us what we don't want; in their own way, they are blessings in disguise. The problem I do have with relationships is that they can cloud the mind.
If you've ever been in a relationship where you gave your all, made sacrifices and put your other half's happiness ahead of your own, then you probably know what I'm talking about. You become completely encapsulated within your partner.
You're part of your partner's life, family and circle of friends. You would probably do anything to see your partner smile. Somehow, though, you let your own life slip; you don't keep in touch with your own friends and family as much as you should.
You get into a comfortable routine without even being aware that you're in one. You may become a lot more dependent on your other half. These are NOT signs of a healthy relationship.
For my first couple of months as a singleton, I fought internally with myself almost every day. I faced loneliness, isolation, self-doubt and one-nighters that left me with even more questions about myself. It was unknown territory for me.
I hated being single. I craved attention, affection, adulation, admiration and, well, company. In these factors' place, I found sleazy ass-grabs, one-night stands and meaningless sex.
I remember waking up one morning, feeling terrible about myself. I was floating through the days like a lost cloud, just waiting for things to happen. The only problem was, I didn't like the direction in which I was floating.
I will never forget the day I started to take charge of my own life. I sat back and realized that I was not living my life as I wanted to live it, and for the first time in a long time, I saw that the world was my oyster.
It was the first time in so long that I felt excited about my life and what I could do. Why? There was nothing to stop me.
Before you feel any pressure to settle down or jump into a relationship, spend a year alone. Here's what a year of being single will teach you:
1. Friends and Family
You will come to really appreciate the good friends and family who surround you. You will also have more time to spend with them, so you will make memories that will last you forever.
Social relationships are so important to your health and well-being, so surround yourself with positive people who challenge and support you, no matter what. This way, when you do eventually enter into a relationship, you won't want to lose these people and will never sacrifice them for any partner.
Your friendships and family relationships are too important; they are the most constant part of your life. It is also the time to rid yourself of the social relationships that are more harmful to you and your health than they are beneficial. This is one of the most liberating things you will ever do.
A year by yourself gives you such a crystal clear view on so many aspects of your own life. Your career, future relationships, your dreams and ambitions — they all become within your grasp when you take the time to ask yourself what it is YOU want in life.
What are YOUR dreams? What are YOUR beliefs? What do YOU value in a relationship? Where do YOU want to be in 10 years time? What career path do YOU want to follow?
The main perk of being single for a year is that you only have to answer to yourself. If you don't have the answers to these questions, you now have the time to discover them. What do you have to lose? Make a list of goals for yourself — weekly, monthly or annually — and you'll be amazed by how clear it will all seem.
We learn about ourselves every day, but being single for a year means that you become even more independent, more ambitious, resilient, confident and self-reliant.
When you test your personal strength and push your boundaries, you will get an amazing sense of satisfaction knowing that you did it alone. There is nothing more empowering than knowing your own strength and surprising yourself every time you are put to the test.
This path of self-discovery helps us in our endless battle to discover our identities. There is nothing more liberating and more empowering than knowing who you truly are.
I truly believe that the greatest and healthiest relationships involve two people who really know who they are as individuals; people who have dreams and goals that they work toward and who surround themselves with great friends and family.
This is why I would advise anyone in his or her 20s to embark upon this lone voyage for a year to discover what's important; chase your dreams and experience new things. It may just be the best thing you ever do.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It