Next Friday I turn 23. As I enter this new birth year, I am reflecting on the mistakes I’ve made as a 22-year-old, and also the ways I’ve grown from my old ways holistically. My circumstances aren’t easier, but my approach to my everyday problems have definitely changed.
Especially my approach to dating. As I look to create the life I want for myself, I am accepting that my relationships will only become better as I become better.
Since I graduated last May, my biggest focus has been setting up opportunities for myself as a writer. This time has been split between working part-time, another internship, freelancing, applying for jobs, as well as working on this site.
It’s been an up and down journey also because between last May and now, I lost one of my best friends in July, my twin nieces in September, and my grandmother in October. I had a hard time figuring out why life was happening the way it was. I was weary but I never lost my faith and I kept pushing, praying, and writing.
During this time, I did not have a boyfriend to lean on. My family and friends were there of course. But for the most part in those moments when I wanted to call on a significant other to drain my dome of its most biting thoughts, I had no one.
Or maybe I did. But I chose not to really align myself with any of the guys that were interested in me. I was offered dates, company, phone calls, text conversations, etc. — but I couldn’t receive most of it. Part of it was I wasn’t really interested in my suitors. I didn’t feel like forcing myself to be around these men just because, well, that’s what a young single woman should do; have fun with them, then go toss ‘em. I was still in mourning and not feeling like myself at all to entertain just anyone.
I did open up to one young man around October of last year that I met through a friend of mine. Things were going well and I found myself on the phone yapping away until the early morning a few nights a week. It was cool to not have to force myself to talk someone. It felt like a natural attraction of minds. We exchanged dozens of phone calls and went on a total of four dates before I suddenly realized — I wasn’t that into him.
Apart from a few condescending things he said to me, I also felt like he was forcing me into a relationship. One time he asked me to go on vacation with him for his birthday which was about 8 months away. To some people that may have been cute or nice, but to me it was too much too soon. We were only speaking for about three weeks. I like when a man plans in advance for me while we are dating. That shows he’s sincerely interested. But I don’t like when it’s too far in advance. It puts pressure on me. It was still too new and we weren’t in a relationship.
I eventually cut it off because I felt like he was trying to lock me down before I could even decide whether I wanted him to be the one locking me. He had many traits that attracted me to him, and I think he sincerely meant well, but it just wasn’t what I wanted.
Moving along, I also tried to rekindle something from my past, but I soon realized it would require more energy and time than I was willing to give at this moment and I removed myself from that situation as well.
Around the ending of February, I came to the conclusion that dating, or talking, or whatever it’s called was going to be put on hold for a second. Since then I have been incredibly focused and I’ve been putting even more energy towards my career and being a better person as a whole.
Sometimes we are single but we still want to have SOMETHING, any man, or HIM in our corner for those times of physical, mental needs, or just to have a good time with.
But I decided to start fresh with absolutely nothing. I do interact with men on a daily basis of course, that’s life. But I am not romantically, sexually, or emotionally involved with anyone right now.
This was something I had never really tried. So I thought why not give it a complete shot.
This allowed me to reflect on previous experiences with men, that went well or not so well.
In a recent conversation I had with singer Kirby Lauryen for the “Inspiration” section of Hearts Converse, we spoke about this. I didn’t get to include it in the interview due to space but it made sense!
“Being in love is like a really powerful thing and I don’t know necessarily how to find a balance with being in love and working as hard on your dream; because I never simultaneously been in love with someone and in love with my dream at the same time. But I do think it’s possible,” Lauryen says.
I didn’t really grasp what she was saying during the time of the interview. But as I wrote the story and re-read the quotes it dawned on me.
Relationships are time and energy. It’s not that I don’t have time for one or energy for one. I do. Honestly there will always be 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 365 days in a year. There’s always time. But it’s more so, who am I willing to spend my time on? I think at this moment, I haven’t found a situation that works for me where I can simultaneously work on my goals, and also not have to worry about staying sane because the relationship isn’t what I want it to be.
I do believe there are many couples out there building great relationships and who are balancing their love for each other as well as their love for their personal goals, friends, and family. It is very possible and I believe that it will one day happen for me.
But as far as the getting-to-know-ya phase, I don’t want to spend too much energy and time sitting across from any old boy who I’m not even feeling like that, or who I know isn’t right for me, just to have someone around.
I could be writing something, creating something, networking and building, reading a book, watching a movie, working out, etc. Either way if I have to think of a million things to do before hanging out with you, you probably weren’t someone I should be seeing in the first place.
And for the record, I am not anti-dating, because I want to get to know new people. I am not anti-hey-let’s-hang out-and-catch-up and all that jibber jabber. But I think due to life circumstances that have shaped me these past 12 months, I’ve been forced to mature and take my time much more seriously.
The person who will attract me and hold my attention long-term has to be of great substance for me to look up from what I’m doing and to take him seriously.
I don’t want to put a whole bunch of energy into looking for that man. I like the idea that I will be more focused on growing who I am, and that only a special person can have the ability to get me sprung out of my mind.
I could have been in a relationship with Mr. October by now, and it probably would have worked ok. But I don’t want ok.
Men can be very inspiring or very draining and although none will come in a package labeled perfection, I think when one comes along that’s worth it, I’ll know. Basically because I am now finally knowing myself. I’ve also been focusing on God as well. That has changed me too. And I personally believe when you know yourself (and God) you can trust that you’ll possess the discernment to choose the good apples from bad apples. Anyone can show up to your door, but you shouldn’t let everyone in.
Another lesson learned.