It’s been a little over four years since I’ve been in a significant, long-term relationship (I know, trust me, I know). It was actually my first relationship ever, as we had been together since we were sixteen. He was my best friend and my first love; he challenged me, brought out a side of me I never knew existed, was there for me through my anxiety attacks and, probably unknowingly, helped me to truly understand and define myself. Throughout these years, I grew into a person I was proud to be; independent and confident, I could be myself, and I was not only accepted for it, but I was loved.
Eventually, we grew up and grew apart, although we still keep in contact every once in awhile. Because he had such an impact on me, on my life, it took a very long time for me to heal. I had met some people since then, but, for various reasons, it had never really turned into anything substantial. I often wonder if, perhaps subconsciously, I had been sabotaging myself, if maybe I was looking too hard for a chance to duplicate those feelings from that first relationship again.
In hindsight, I probably was too eager to jump back into a relationship because of the way it made me feel — strong, beautiful, special. It had always been hard for me to let go of things for fear that it meant losing them forever, not understanding that change and loss aren’t necessarily synonymous. I’ve since reconciled this fact, but some of that fear still lingers, faintly, even now. As much as I hate to admit it, as selfish and petty as it sounds, I think I feared letting go, wanting to hang on for as long as I could, because of the feelings I associated with it; I didn’t want to lose the way I felt about myself.
I didn’t want to feel the way I do now.
Something happens when you lose all faith in yourself — it’s not just a loss of confidence in your ability, but it’s a loss of everything that makes you you. You lose that charm, that vivaciousness, that bubbly personality that makes you shine. You lose yourself. You begin to forget all of your good qualities, and all sense of self-worth seem to fade away. And once that happens, it’s very, very difficult to find it again.
And if you can’t see how special you are, how are others going to?
I’ve been single for a very long time, and yet I think this is the first time I’ve been able to appreciate it for what it means. I was convinced that I was ready for another relationship, but I think that I was just fooling myself. Or maybe I really was ready, at the time, but now, with so much uncertainty in regards to my future and my career, maybe I need to take a step back once more.
I thought that I had it all figured out before, but I’m learning that it’s not as cut and dry as it seems. The search for self-identity doesn’t end once you stop tacking “teen” onto the end of your age; it’s a process that requires reflection and patience and even more reflection (and a lot more patience).
Because you’re constantly changing and growing, you’re also constantly rediscovering and redefining yourself. I’ve said before that even though I’m in my twenties, I still feel very much like a little girl. Maybe now it’s time for me to rediscover and redefine myself as an adult, as a woman, to figure out and understand, once again, who I am as an independent individual.
That’s not to say that I don’t hope to meet someone with whom I have a connection again. Of course, I miss the silly flirtations and long conversations and everything else that comes from being attracted to someone.
But right now, and most importantly, I miss myself even more.
It’s time for that to change.