I used to stay up late writing love poems to the true love I had never met, and wished I would find him at 11:11. I used to shout to the world how proud I was of my independence, knowing deep down I would encounter someone someday who would help me discover qualities about myself that I'd never be brave enough to uncover alone.
I spent a lot of time working on being the right person and I hoped that someday my paths of self-discovery would help me find the right person. I've met a lot of great people along the way. Some of them were perfect for me on paper but terrible for me in actuality. Some seemed wrong in every way, but ended up teaching me all of the right lessons.
All of them helped me become the person I am today. Broken hearts taught me to love myself first and broken roads made steady ground that much more appreciated. I now know it was all part of the bigger plan; I just wish I would have had a little more faith throughout the process.
I can't tell you how many conversations I had with my already-settled girlfriends about how I would be alone forever. I always overdramatized it as a defense mechanism, imagining all of the cats I would have someday (I hate cats).
I spent a lot of my alone time getting to know myself, and for that, I will always be thankful. But I won't deny the fact that I also spent a lot of my alone time dreaming about the person I couldn't wait to meet someday. I couldn't wait to get to know the person who would know me even better than I know myself.
This is the person I could dream with, cry with, laugh with and trust. This is the person I'd feel safe with. This is the person I had been writing my love poems to all along. This is the person who'd stay. A lot of my friends told me my standards were too high, unrealistic or impossible.
I always knew better. You see, life is hard. I've learned that in ways I used to think were unfair. But all of the hard times have only helped me find a deeper understanding for the love I would wait to find. It's the love that becomes my heart's resting place. It's the love worth fighting for.
I spent a lot of time trying to make it work with the wrong people. While each experience taught me a lot of lessons, I also learned I would rather be alone than be with someone who made me wish I was alone. I learned I didn't want to settle for someone I could live with; I wanted to wait for the person I couldn't live without.
Then, along came Dan,* right in the middle of the chaos, at the most inconvenient time, on the one day I didn't even think about meeting someone. It happened on an unprepared, unexpected, perfectly imperfect Friday afternoon.
The beginning of my relationship with Dan required trust and faith I didn't know I had, but there wasn't a single part of me that wanted to run. We both had patience with our hearts, and a friendship caught fire and turned into the love of my life. He is the kindest, funniest, most thoughtful, perfect human I have ever met. I say use the word "perfect" fully aware (and thankful) that no one is perfect, but even Dan's imperfections are perfect for me.
I met Dan less than two months before my dad unexpectedly passed away, and he is the only reason I think I am where I am today. It's not because I don't believe I could have done it alone, but because I finally found the person I trusted enough to lean on when my knees buckled.
For the first time in my life, I didn't want to do life alone anymore. Life with Dan hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies, but it has given me a hope for tomorrow that I've never felt before. He believes in my dreams, understands me in a way I didn't think possible, and even says I'm cute when I know I am being absolutely crazy.
The fact is, we can all be crazy sometimes. We act crazy because we are scared, insecure because we have been hurt and jealous because people from our past have given us reasons to be. We're unwilling to open up because we've had our hearts broken so many times before.
But there is someone out there with an unconditional love to offer that will make you so thankful it never worked out with anyone else. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't lose hope. Hang in there. Enjoy this time alone, and become friends with yourself.
Unclench the fists you hold at the mirror and be your own kind of beautiful. Buy yourself flowers; blow your own damn mind. Because I can promise you — on a bleak morning when you forget to shower and least expect it — your love will come along.
Until then, take a deep breath. Remember, things are only going to make sense when you look at them backward, but in order to progress we have to keep living our lives forward. I was there. I had lost hope. I was tired of seeing other people find their fairytales, wondering if it would ever be my turn. I can promise you that all of the wondering, wishing and hoping only makes the fairytale that much better.
I can also promise you the fairytale doesn't look very much like a fairytale. It looks a lot more like normal life. But having patience with your heart to wait for the right person to spend your life with can turn ordinary into extraordinary.
If your story goes anything like mine, your new chapter will begin before you've even given yourself time to turn the page. Enjoy this moment, for this moment is all we can be certain of. The best isn't yet to come; the best is already here. Trust in that, and the best will get even better.
*Name has been changed.