I'm Not Ready For A 'Real Man' Because I'm Not Done Being A Girl

It was Saturday night in New York. My single girlfriends and I had plans to paint the town and knock back a few drinks. Hell, we thought, maybe we’d meet a guy or two.

As I struggled into my suffocatingly tight skinny jeans, I heard my friends talking behind me.

“I’m so sick of dealing with boys."

“Can someone take me on a real date already?”

“When is this pool of guys going to grow the f*ck up?”

“Guys,” I said as I wiggled into my jeans. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but would you really say that we're grown up?”

My friends were silent. We left for the club.

Sure enough, there was eye candy everywhere on the dance floor. I scanned the room and spotted a man in a navy suit. He was striking and brazen, but he was also classy and composed. In a crowd of inebriated idiots, he stood out like a fox in a field of sheep.

The girls caught on to my discovery. But none of us made a move. We just gathered around barstools and laughed like little girls, making a spectacle of the poor guy. And the chitchat didn’t stop there; the relentless bitching and complaining about the “man we all deserved” continued straight into the cab ride on the way home.

It was comical. What did we think we did to deserve him? Why were we spending all of our time talking about someone we’d never have (and hadn't even tried talking to)? There was no doubt that my lady friends had some growing up to do -- and so did I.

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a woman. I am merely a girl. I’ll be 25 soon. And though I have pressure coming on all sides to lock down Mr. Right, I've learned that it's okay to be a girl for a little while longer. Most of say we’re ready to date The One even when we have a lot of maturing to do. Age can be more of a fiend than a friend. It dictates what we think we should have, even if we aren't actually ready for it. This is dangerous.

The One is nowhere in sight, but that doesn’t mean I’d be ready for him if he were.

I need to be reckless.

I want to break myself in and wear myself out -- whether that means traveling alone or going through eight different styles before settling on the one for me.

I have to be selfish so that, one day, I can be selfless.

I need to develop my own opinions.

The world is a big place. But I know only so much about it. I need to cultivate a certain kind of confidence about my beliefs. I’ve got to stick to them and not budge, even when someone else tries to keep me from them.

Mature people tend to impose their beliefs onto others. But I want a taste in fashion that isn't identical to my mom's, and I want political views that aren't my dad's. Oh, and I certainly don't want to adopt my boyfriends' interests.

I need to date a million terrible boys before I can choose a man.

We need to know loss before we can appreciate gain. The dating world is ruthless, and I’m already tired. (Trust me, I want to give up). But I can’t settle down with someone great until I’ve been with the good, the bad and the ugly.

I need to have my heart broken enough to be able to appreciate it when it’s full.

Good experiences make for good conversation.

People say that you can’t love someone else until you’ve learned to love yourself. I didn’t always know what that meant, but I do now: It means taking yourself out when there’s no one around to do that. It means being seen even when you think you aren't worth being seen. You may have a few sucky nights, but you'll build a wealth of stories.

Besides, how can I find someone I like talking to if I have nothing to talk about?

I can’t grow next to someone who’s already grown.

It's not smart to wait until marriage to become an adult. I need to make strides on my own. If I don't, my future guy will pick up on just how little I know how to do (taxes, my laundry, cooking food that isn't frozen). At some point, he'll want a woman.

I can barely pick out a cute outfit for the club, let alone a fancy dress to be a plus-one for your friend’s wedding.

I need to know what regret feels like.

Remorse for massive f*ck-ups feels like a bitch, but there’s something to it. I still crave the I-can’t-believe-I-did-that-but-I-have-to-admit-it-was-fun feeling, but it gets tacky after 30. I've still got five good years left in me.

I haven’t blacked out enough to want to stay in all the time.

My man needs to be a boy first.

Maybe my future husband, like me, isn't done messing up. Maybe he's figuring out his morals right now. I need to grow on my own, and so does he.

One day, I’ll know what I want. I’ll be able to say that I’ve seen the world, and I’ll leave my house without second-guessing what I look like. That day, I’ll be a woman ready for a man.

To the man at the bar: I'll see you again.