"I want to fall in love," I said to my friend Luke the other day. I was walking down 72nd street, clutching an extra-large deli coffee.
I was grappling with the brutal aftermath of a hard night of salacious partying and was attempting to soothe my horrendous hangover by yapping on my trusted iPhone with one of my oldest, dearest friends.
The moment I hit Madison Avenue, I magnetically found myself in my favorite pastry shop -- where I often end up after a night of drinking.
"Zara, you're not made for love," Luke explained, his raspy whiskey-voice revealing he perhaps was in the throes of his own hangover.
"Why, the f*ck not?" I asked, gazing at the golden croissant that was seducing me from across the counter. As I gave in and ordered the pastry, Luke carried on with his reasoning.
"Girl, you're too independent for that relationship sh*t. Think about it: If you were in 'love,' you couldn't recklessly skip around the bars of the West Village without a care in the world like you do every weekend."
Why. The. F*ck. Not? Are girls in relationships forbidden from having fun? Are we not "allowed" to be carefree, wildly social entities who troll the bars of Lower Manhattan sifting from the West Village to Chelsea as we please?
Does love mean sacrificing independence? Is the word "love" synonymous with "codependent" and "boring"?
Not on my clock.
In fact, I think being in a place in your life where you're a fiercely independent, self-sufficient woman with a mind of her own is actually the healthiest state in which to fall in love.
Because independent women don't need a partner. They don't require the presence of a lover in order to feel more validated in the world.
Independent women WANT a partner. And there is a world of a f*cking difference between a "want" and a "need."
And the love you want, rather than the love that solely exists to sustain you -- is the purest love of all. It's a love that's derived out of genuine passion, authentic desire, magnetic attraction and die-hard respect -- not codependence and the all-consuming fear of being alone.
If I really stop and think about it, I was at my most guarded when I was my least independent. I knew that I hadn't attained true, real-life autonomy yet.
I knew I was fragile, that my well-being was paper thin and that a lover would serve as nothing more than a Band-Aid for my emotional wounds. I knew heartbreak could break me.
I knew I wasn't ready for love because first, I had to cultivate a relationship with myself.
But alas, I did my homework. I'm still a work in progress, but after putting in the time -- I'm confident I can hold my own hand.
I've lived alone. I've traveled the world solo. I can put myself to bed at night. I can sit with my own thoughts and feelings. I have created a fully realized life for myself.
I'm not willing to sacrifice my vast array of colorful friends and endless slew of wild adventures, if and when I do find love. Because I believe the most powerful love cultivates when two madly independent people with fulfilling lives of their own join forces.
So yes, I'm an out and proud independent, fully functioning force of girl nature who STILL craves love. In fact, I'm craving it more than f*cking ever.
I'm ready to dive in, without the hang-ups, free from the fear of doing it for the wrong reasons, without worrying about the painful aftermath.
When you know you're steering the ship, you're finally in a healthy place to take risks. And love is the ultimate risk.
Here is why the independent woman craves LOVE:
Because an independent woman knows who the f*ck she is.
Part of being independent is having impenetrable confidence in who you are. Attaining a true, authentic sense of self.
Even if it means accepting that I just might change day to day like the f*cking tides. I'm no longer willing to bend myself in order to fit an idea of what I think you want. I will reveal my real self right away.
This way, you fall in love with the real me, not a perfectly curated idea of me.
Because an independent woman has her own friends.
I have my own set of friends whom I love and cherish with the entirety of my being. Friends I've learned how to lean on when the going gets rough.
It's so direly important in a relationship that both parties have deep independent friendships outside of one another. If your lover is the only person in your life, it's overkill. It puts too much pressure on the relationship.
You throw all of your problems on to each other. You end up putting up with sh*t you would never normally put up with and stay in a relationship for too long because you are totally alone without this person.
Having your own friends keeps your standards in check.
Because an independent woman is self-sufficient.
I'm an independent woman with a career of my own. I don't need to rely on a single entity in the stratosphere to fund my life.
So when I fall in love, it's never with the intention that my partner will make my life more financially fruitful. I will never stay shackled to a relationship out of financial dependence.
I simply don't need to because I make my own money, and I always will.
Because an independent woman trusts her gut.
As a fiercely independent woman, I trust my gut with every fiber of my being. My instincts are everything, and I trust that inner voice in my head that serves as my ultra-wise guide to the universe.
Your inner-voice, your instinct, your gut, guide, whatever you want to call her -- she is the force that lets you know when someone is inherently bad for you.
I'm keyed into my partner's motives and will only seek relationships with those whose intentions are as pure as gold.
Because an independent woman isn't seeking her other half.
I don't subscribe to the notion that we are all wandering halves seeking out a person to make us whole. The idea that I'm not a fully realized individual makes me feel weird.
I'm confident in myself as a whole person. I'm a multi-faceted, complex woman who is strung together by contradictions, flaws and an authentic love and respect for who I am.
I know how to fill the voids in my life with so many things: my work, creative expression, my wonderful friends and one-of-a-kind family.
I'm seeking another whole person. Two whole human beings embarking on a relationship are far more powerful than two half-souls becoming one.
Because for an independent woman, love is a happy addition, not an addiction.
Love will only add to my life. Love will only be a wonderful extra force, something to propel me to a higher place of happiness.
But it's not something I need to stay alive. Love is not something I'm hoping will swoop in and save me from myself. I'm not looking for an entity to come in and fix the broken parts of me.
For me, love is a welcomed addition. And that is the purest love of all.