“Rachel, don’t get to serious” I was 15 years old when I first heard those words. It was a Saturday night and I was about to leave for another date with my current boyfriend. Over the next eight years my mom always found a way to chime in and ask, “You’re not getting too serious are you?”
It was her persistence that leads me to my belief today. This I believe: it is important to be single. I’m not talking about forever, but I am talking about an extended period of time. I have many friends who have jumped from one relationship to another since before they could drive a car. One in particular was engaged three times and finally married bachelor # 3 this summer, before her 23rd birthday. Perhaps she is fickle in her decisions about men because she doesn’t know herself.
When I was a sophomore in college I found myself in a situation I wasn’t ready to deal with. I was in a long distance relationship that was getting a little more serious than my mom probably would have liked. Inevitably the question she raised popped in my head even with her four hours away. The answer to the question was yes, this is getting serious and no, I’m not ready to deal with it. At the same time I remembered what my grandma said on her 50th wedding anniversary. I know she’s in love with my grandpa even after 50 plus years together, but she was right when she said, “Once you’re married, you’re married for a long time.” With these thoughts surging through my head, the result was a break up and the most empowering move of my life.
While in a relationship I spent the majority of my free time worrying about the other person and getting to know him. Now, I decided it was time to get to know me. This path of self discovery didn’t happen right away. Of course I had to go through the typical post break up grieving process, but before I knew it two and a half years had passed. I no longer felt an obligation to include another person in my decisions or stay in the local area to nurture a relationship. I studied abroad in Australia, went sky diving, swam with a shark, climbed glaciers, spent a month on a road trip across the US, and experienced things I never would have imagined. I feel that without having spent this time single I never would have discovered my love for traveling, pushed my own limits, or gotten to know the best me.
I can now say I am back in a relationship that I’m sure of because I’m sure of myself, and it’s great. However, nothing will ever compare to the two and a half years I spent with me.
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