For the longest time in my young adult life, I was focused on the wrong thing: finding a relationship.
Don't get me wrong, relationships can be great. It can be incredible to find a person you love and cherish. I used to be a crack addict when it came to love. I used to want to find someone so badly who I can spend all of my time with. I wanted nights in cuddling, tacky Valentine's Day posts on Instagram and someone I could call mine.
Like many women I know, I was letting this become my priority. As women, we are pressured to get married at a certain age, have children and settle down at a certain age. We start to worry about our “biological clocks” ticking and we browse our Facebook newsfeed, only to see engagements, proposals and marriages from our college and high school classmates.
I am a hopeless romantic, painfully so. I love too hard, too passionately and I put my absolute all into my relationships. Like many of my girlfriends and people I know, I let it consume my life and my whole being. I finally decided to give that up and decided it was time to focus on me for the year. And it was the best decision I've ever made.
Like I said, relationships can be awesome. But let's be honest here: They are time-consuming. You need to pay attention to your SO and you need to pay attention to the status of your relationship. You're worried about their needs, their wants. The relationship is like a plant in constant need of water.
I made a conscious decision this year: to stop dating. No Tinder, no Bumble, no Hinge. If someone asked me out, I would say no. And it's a decision I'll never look back on with regret.
I began to zone in on the things I wanted in my life. Where I saw myself in 10 years; what kind of future I saw for myself. What I was passionate about; what my interests were. I was always so focused on dating and men before this experience that I didn't even know who I was.
Unsure of what to do after college, I started researching different career paths. I tried different jobs, different opportunities, different hobbies and explored different interests. I focused on strengthening my relationships with my friends and family. I got into the best shape of my life. I moved to Boston without knowing a soul and built a life that is solely my own. I had absolutely no one distracting me or stressing me out. I was my priority.
If I never took this time off from the dating, I would never have discovered the things I have about myself. I would have never realized the things I am truly passionate about, I would have never fully explored and discovered my absolute love for writing. I learned to be alone and to be one with myself. I live the most fulfilling life I could ever imagine myself to have.
In addition to this, I have identified what I truly want from a man and a relationship when I'm ready.
In channeling this newfound security of being alone, you no longer have the urge to find someone. You don't settle. You reflect on your past relationships and you realize what went wrong. You have an understanding of what you can't and won't tolerate. If someone treats you badly or if you are not enjoying them in your lives any longer, you are completely OK with leaving their ass.
I don't believe your 20s are a time for a serious relationship. I believe your 20s are for grinding, exploring, traveling and finding yourself. I believe this pivotal time in your life are for doing what I did this year.
There are some people who meet the one at this age and feel as though the relationship is worth sacrificing certain things you would be able to do single and I have respect for those people. To each their own. I, however, am not one of those people.
My life feels so fulfilled, but not complete. I am not done exploring. I am not done accomplishing what I want to accomplish in my life and my career. I am too driven and too ambitious to have someone holding me back from doing whatever it is I want to do.
I highly recommend this to anyone who feels like their priorities are out of order. You can handle it. You don't need anyone telling you how great you are because you will discover that for yourself.
I promise, you won't regret it.