While in the past, I joked of being a mess at times, I usually had my act together. My bills were paid on time each month; I had a decent savings account and claimed to enjoy being single so much that waking up alone was a choice easily made.
When a series of unfortunate events over the course of few months hit me hard, I was suddenly wondering who the hell I thought I was kidding.
It wasn’t until stress piled up to the point of there being no clear way out, while simultaneously accomplishing a personal career goal, that I realized I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
And, I was alone.
I laid in my bed wanting to both celebrate my win and also sob about how helpless I felt in my situation. My family had lost an incredibly cherished member. The job, which paid my bills, was on the verge of going under, and I was looking around my bedroom, wondering what I could sell.
At the same time, I had a personal accomplishment to be very proud of, but I didn’t feel I could or should be happy about it. Instead, I just felt like I had hit a new low.
For two days, I didn’t leave my apartment. I didn’t shower or do my hair or makeup. I ate horribly and felt sorry for myself.
When I had to drag my butt out to apartment hunt since my lease was about to be up, I fought off panic attack after panic attack, realizing there was no way I could throw down enough money for a new place. Would I be homeless in two weeks? Couch surf?
And, then, I opened my eyes to something incredible: the f*cking truth.
You Aren’t Carefree; You Are Immature
I would have spurts of feeling young and reckless, when I would do things like buy tickets to New York or go shopping or drop serious cash while out, grabbing drinks with friends. While a few memories of such cavorts are certainly great, for the most part, the experiences would end up just not being worth it in the long run.
Actions have consequences. Waking up broke and hungover and completely useless for the entire day, if not longer, is not worth the story anymore. I’ve lived enough wild days in college and in my early- to mid-20s.
Struggling to make rent or having to choose between groceries or gas because I decided I just had to go to New York for a week doesn’t make me unpredictable and carefree.
I know I’d rather have a career that fulfills me, a home in which I feel comfortable and a fridge full of food without having to think twice. These are things for which I want to work hard.
Sparking a solid career will take time, patience and drive. It will also take discipline to save my money, and when appropriate, taking myself on a trip will feel like a well-deserved reward.
You Aren’t Young And Trendy; Your Closet Is Full Of Sh*t
Two occasions made me realize I had to throw out old sweaters I hadn't worn in years and cheap dresses I had worn in my clubbing days:
1. Finding out my grandmother had died and not having one appropriate outfit to wear to the funeral.
2. Going on a job interview, having to wear one of my roommate’s blouses.
While I did own some great and stylish outfits for nights out on the town, I lacked the staple items a young woman needs. I needed professional clothes, as well as ones deemed appropriate for inevitable events, like funerals.
I piled up about 15 of the same-style tank tops and crop tops, ill-fitting jeans and discolored maxi skirts, kept what was in good shape for my casual days and donated the rest.
I’d rather have a closet semi-filled with clothes I will not only proudly wear, but also need, than a closet overly stuffed with crap I can’t even get away with anymore.
You Are Not Fabulously Single; You Are Scared
While I loved to tell people I didn’t want a boyfriend at this time in life, the truth was I just couldn’t stand the thought of getting hurt again. I’ve been in love twice and had my heart broken both times.
I didn’t bounce back easily or quickly either time, and I had lost myself in both relationships.
The thought of going through the courtship, falling in love, meeting the family, getting as close as I can possibly get to a person and then having it all taken away from me again had me pushing away every single guy who came into my life.
I wasn’t alone just by choice. I was alone because it had seemed easier, but my loneliness eventually became palpable. No, I didn’t feel fabulously single as I laid in my bed that particularly low day. It felt like a scared little girl who had built a fort with a bratty, "No Boys Allowed" sign on the front.
I made a conscious decision to give the good guys who ask me out a fair shot, instead of coming up with some bogus excuse not to see them again. This didn't mean I had to settle down and marry the next guy I dated, but it also didn't mean I couldn't be open to dating, or at the very least, letting someone in again.
You Are Not Always The Victim; You Are Accountable
I had known for a while my job was about to go under. Instead of actively putting myself out there on a job hunt, I expected something to fall into my lap. Only when the sh*t hit the fan and I was taking money out of my savings to cover rent, I realized I should have been looking for new work months ago.
I blamed my bosses for their poor management, but I knew I also had to blame myself. If I had complained about this for a few weeks and then done something about it, it would have been different. Instead, I complained about it for months until I was in a situation where I had to swallow my pride and call my parents for help.
This time around, I knew I had to take accountability. I was embarrassed I let things go so far, and I know I could have been out much sooner and quite possibly, in a better place.
After getting knocked to the ground, and hard, I realized it was time to get up; simply moving forward wouldn’t cut it anymore. It was time to move up.
I want a career of which I can be proud. I want not only to look pulled together, but also actually be pulled together.
When stress overwhelms me, I want someone to be there for me. I know I want to share my successes with someone else who inspires and motivates me. These goals are all achievable, but I’ll have to work hard and grow the hell up to get there.
I spent a whole lot of time lying to myself, and I was fed up with it. I've finally called myself out and felt, for the first time in a long time, relief.