Time to sit down with a glass of wine and reflect on 2016. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And if I were to look back at how I rang in the year, I'd say it was a foretelling on how the rest of 2016 would turn out... Rough. My strength and patience were tested every single day. A week (or a few nights later), I broke up with the guy I spent most of my twenties with.
I wasn't happy but I was comfortable and that wasn't the way for me to live. The next decision I made was to invest in the one relationship I've neglected for a while, the one with myself. Since then I've thwarted impending relationships and burnt bridges to keep my word. And thank goodness I did. It's so easy to get lost in a relationship after coming out of one so fresh... I believe they call it a rebound.
As I stuck close to my word, I learned, accomplished, and experienced so much. There were some shit moments, but everything as a whole was amazing. I'm actually exhausted from having such an amazing year filled with firsts and memories that would've never happened if I weren't going solo. I learned a few (more like nine) things along the way too:
1. Friendships Need a Strong Base
Some friends disappear into the quicksand of relationships or work, completely neglecting their crew. At the same time, there are friends that make the effort to stay in touch through the thick and thin - these are the friends that welcomed me back with open arms. It never for a second felt odd, but more like continuing where we left off. Our random but thoughtful phone calls, frequent bedside visits just because, and impromptu girls night helped strengthen our base over the years and I'm so lucky it did. Sidenote, #GirlGang trips increased my bond tenfold so expect more adventures in 2017.
2. Society's Pressure is Bullshit
We seem to put this burden on ourselves on being the best, looking perfect or having the guy followed by a wedding. It's all bullshit. Do you and strive only for what makes you happy. I did and feel so at ease.
3. Dating Gets Easier
At the beginning of the year, I was willing to give everyone a chance, which means I went on too many dates already knowing the unfruitful outcome. Fast forward to the end of the year and dates are now a rare occurrence. My time is precious, so my standards kept climbing and my friends have finally breathed a sigh of relief. Automatic red cards to those that text me "WYD" at 2 AM. Fouls to those lacking the motivation to cross the Queens border. Those shorter than me get immediately cut. In the end, I know my worth and if my gut says "Nah" then I'll most likely disappear into the night forever.
4. Be Nicer to Yourself
I have an issue with pushing myself to my absolute limits. Great for marathons, not so great for everyday living. This year, I let myself sleep in, treated myself to ALL of the hair appointments, and saw my doctor way too many times (preventative care at its finest). When I needed to unwind I went for a run, put off my to-do list, or gave myself a mani-pedi. I spoiled myself silly by putting myself first and will continue to do so.
5. Solitude... Scary yet Soothing
It's human nature to feel lonely at times. These were the moments I really felt myself grow as a person. (These were also the moments I found myself swiping away, to be honest.) Instead of burying the feelings with random numbing dates or an erratic online shopping spree I faced them head on. I accepted them and knew the feeling would pass. Sometimes, being alone or going places solo felt like a treat in itself. And if all else failed, I move on to #6 or continue swiping.
6. You Can Handle Shit Like a Pro
Life is always going throw curveballs but the question is, are you going to roll over and give up or stand up and figure it out. I definitely had to figure it out or get fucked. In one month, I started a new job, found a new apartment, had surgery (and needed to recover from it), and move. After experiencing all that and still coming out on top - I'm more than confident that I'll be able to overcome the next fuckery that heads my way.
7. Being Financially Stable is Liberating
Honestly, this is the best thing that has happened to me. I might be drowning in hospital bills but being able to book my own flights, pay my own rent, afford whatever restaurant I choose to eat at is AMAZING. Not having to rely on anyone is AMAZING. Being in control of your finances is AMAZING.
8. Personal Growth... It Happens
This year, I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot. Not always pain-free or comfortable but it's necessary when it comes to learning more about me. For instance, speaking up more won't kill me (even if it sounds dumb), traveling solo is really fun, doing things I hate aren't so painful, and my armpit fat is here to stay (body acceptance).
9. Don't Settle Until You're Ready
This is the one time I was committed to doing me, from exploring new interests, traveling wherever the wind blew and growing my business. There simply so much opportunity to discover me and the world when not chained down to one lifestyle or locale. The moment I do settle down (or get knocked up), I know I will have lived a life so full it was worth the solitude. But as of right now, gaining a boyfriend/ride-or-die is not my main focus.
TL;DR Do what makes you happy instead of searching for that someone. Set priorities and reach goals - like being financially stable. Be nice to yourself and embrace the solitude - it might be the only chance you'll be able to. Get out of your comfort zone and see what you're capable of (FYI, a lot of things). And if all else fails (it won't), your friends got your back!
I'm sure the span of 2017 will bring a few more life lessons so until next year!