Everything I Wanted

Note: Someone apparently found my blog with the search terms “cumberpatch oscars” this week. Huh. There’s that.

This is the year that many of my friends and I will mark our tenth year out of high school. I’ve heard some laments of, “Oh, I’m so old now! Where did the time go?” yet I can’t help but marvel at all that’s happened in the past decade.

I moved to the rainy side of the mountains, after enrolling in college. I met great people. I decided to take my major in a completely different direction. I had some adventures. Maybe I even fell in love. I learned to appreciate beer and 80s dancing. I was head cheerleader. I laughed, I cried, I deleted many photos off Facebook because I graduated from college and entered the “real world.” (Not that college wasn’t real–it was transformative, in fact.)

I lived on my own. I experienced depression. I stood crying on the side of the road on Christmas morning when I realized I was snowed in, but I used my distress to my advantage and still made to Wenatchee for Christmas. I decided to take my life in another career direction. My friends got married. I got dumped. I applied to grad school (and was accepted to six out of seven programs). I met someone new. I left the country. I saw places I’d never seen before. I rediscovered my love of airplanes. I learned how to take a subway and navigate countries where I didn’t know the language all that well. I came home. More friends got married. I was deceived and left alone again.

I moved to another state, which wasn’t quite as drastic as another country. I met new people. I learned new things. I worked. I chose partners who weren’t ready for someone like me, but we still had some good times. I lost my father, but I knew he would have told me to continue doing great things. I traveled to the opposite coast for a conference. I finished year one of graduate school. I traveled to another country, this time one with sun and blue seas. I came home and lived in my hometown for the remainder of summer. Friends kept getting married. My mom met someone new. Classmates had children.

I started looking for jobs. I created a portfolio of work. I immersed myself in internships and papers. I quit going to the gym. I spent too much time at Happy Hour, but “too much time” can’t be measured against the company I kept and the stories we shared (and the broken glasses and scolding words the waitress gave my friends). I defended my portfolio. I went to more conferences. I got my first higher education job. I moved to a city I admired. I met more people. I began to work with students in a full-time professional capacity. I received my Master’s degree.

I decided I was too fat, so I joined a CrossFit gym. I didn’t cry, but I couldn’t walk for several days. I traveled to different states. I tried online dating. I had a nice, straight-forward relationship. I realized we weren’t a good match. I broke up with him. I devoted more time to the gym. I visited my friends up north on weekends. I learned new skills. I traveled to more states. I had my first workshop accepted at a national conference. I came in second or third or maybe fourth in a dating race, and that was enough for me to swear off dating for several months.

I needed more time in Seattle, so I started looking for jobs up north. I deliberately spent the summer single. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I found a new job. I left people I loved who I would visit on weekends as much as possible. I moved. I met even more people. I joined a new gym. I presented at that national conference. My friends and family members got married or had kids or got new jobs or bought new houses.

As for me, I’m not sure what happens next. I’m being forced to move into a new house, and the competition is fierce. I might be living on a couch for a bit. I might be looking at PhD programs, but not for a few years. I might be fighting Sallie Mae over my student loans, which aren’t even really that bad, but they’re enough that sometimes I feel ashamed, even though the work that I put in to both my degrees was priceless (and I do fully believe that). I want to travel to many more countries. I want to write more, and cook more, and spend more time in the gym. I want to meet even more people.

I finally let go of the loneliness that had plagued me since junior high and high school. I don’t feel the urgency in finding someone. I don’t graffiti my blog with sadness over being on my own anymore. I feel it sometimes, on cold nights especially, but it is not painful nor crippling; it is just my current state of being.

Somewhere in the last ten years, I became my own person, and I became enough for me. Everything I thought I needed was just something I was too afraid to do myself. The traveler. The writer. The fitness junkie. The cook. The person who appreciates great food and drinks. The funny one. Even the one with great hair and the one with a good smile. The smart one.

These weren’t partners I was searching for. It was me I was searching for the whole time; I had it wrong. Even though I don’t have the house or the husband or the shiny new car or the kids (or even the pets) that suit so many other people so very well–and even though my current situation is a little bit more turbulent than expected–I can tell you one thing about the last decade:

I learned how to be happy being me.

Advertisements

A Singular Sensation (Encore)

The holiday season is an interesting time of year to be acutely aware of my status as a single lady in her late twenties.

Then again, the holiday season is an interesting time of year to reflect on what it was like to not be single at this time last year.

We did all the expected things: I had Thanksgiving with his family; we went out to dinner and a concert on my birthday; we visited my friends in Seattle and did some shopping; we exchanged gifts before I left town.

And then, naturally, I decided we had to end things right before New Year’s–even though I would still end up spending it with all of our mutual friends. The book was completely closed several days after New Year’s, though, without a lingering, messy break-up. It was a clean break, with me telling him bluntly, “We are no longer together. Now go do what you need to do.”

It was calm, unapologetic, to the point, and completely necessary. The line was drawn. And in a way, it set the tone for the rest of 2013. I had several moments in which I later laid my emotions on the line, moments in which I could say, “I forgive you,” and, “You are still my friend despite everything; our friendship means so much.” These things were tough for me, someone who loves those annoying cryptic posts on Facebook and Twitter, along with passive-aggressive jabs.

I’ve never been fantastic at relationships. I used to spend a lot of time on my blog whining about being lonely. I also used to grasp desperately to whatever relationship did come my way. Being single for this year has been tough at times, but it has also brought me much more in terms of growth.

Yes, I still have many feelings. I still melt down often, and transitions always exacerbate both aspects. But even in times where I had to let people go, I knew it was what I needed– and even more so what they needed. I am getting over my manic pixie dream girl complex, the idea that I need to save those emotionally-burned men I fall for. I fall back on a different narrative–much to the dismay of my irrational side–of telling myself they need to learn and make mistakes and hopefully get their lives together without me. And in doing so, even though it still hurts my heart, I am taking the right steps forward in being a better-adjusted single lady.

I read something the other day which, as a whole, was not my cup of tea. I won’t bother linking it here because I found it condescending to single ladies of my type. But there was one part that stood out and that I could at least thank the author for, which I’ll paraphrase as:

Being single may be part of my identity, part of my status, but it is not my identity. It does not define who I am. It is an important part of me, and it is to be celebrated in this moment. Especially in what it can teach me about the rest of who I am.

I’m still hopeful that he’s out there, but I’m more hopeful that he’s learning great things, too. We will have many stories to share, I think, so I suppose I can create many more before we connect.

That would be a fine way to spend this holiday season, I think.

(And if an interested party happens to be reading this… first of all, thanks for making it this far, and maybe we should plan to make mulled wine and watch a holiday movie. Or go to a shooting range. Same difference.)

Games

I sat on my bedroom floor and laid out the cards to my favorite word game solitaire-style. Riceboy Sleeps was on in the background, and my cedar nutmeg candle burned, filling the room with its warm, calming scent.

I felt very much like I did growing up many years ago, keeping myself entertained the way only-childs do. I needed some time to stretch my mind beyond what had become ordinary and routine.

As it has been for the past few years, I am still a spectator as my friends settle down, get married, buy houses, and do all the things grown-ups should. I am walking down a very different path, and tonight, as I contemplated how to play two “QU” cards and a bunch of consonants, I wanted someone to challenge me in this word game.

I couldn’t help but think about what I would say to him as he played his overly-complex words or maybe it was a set of absurd short words. I would give him a hard time, tell him that what he was doing was unfair, and I would either fire back with my own words or make a face, defeated. Then I would laugh, and we would play the next hand.

It can’t just be anybody, though. I have played this game with several guys before, and I am still looking for that special partner.

I know I am quite abrasive about my views on relationships, publicly saying things like, “I hate men and politics equally,” even after meeting really nice guys. Yes, I have been wronged and I have wronged, too, but that isn’t the whole story. It’s just an unfortunate theme.

I don’t really hate you, guys. I haven’t actually given up hope that a nice one in whom I am interested will come along and treat me well, and I am so excited for him to share in this adventure. And vice versa.

You see, I am just impatient. I don’t get why I have to wait so long. I still don’t understand. And I don’t like to settle, either; I am too functional to just say, “Good enough.”

The right partner for me understands that.

I wish so much that this or that could have been different with so-and-so, or that I hadn’t lost touch with another, or that the circumstances were different, or that he maybe said hello in the first place. Those little things, those little details–those haven’t quite worked out for me yet.

Regardless, I carry on. I find joy and challenge in my job, and I look forward to growing myself as a professional. I welcome new travels with open arms. I try to nourish friendships, and I try to cultivate my own spirit (to borrow a phrase from Astin and Astin). I am rooting myself in fitness and health, and I am so happy to have found a team that accepts me as I grow. I call home to say hello, and I take time to appreciate who I am and where I have been and where I am going.

I succumb to loneliness when left to my own thoughts too long, but I know I am loved. Many things are good in life, and I’m not saying the single life is bad. I am doing what I can to make it the best possible, and when Mr. Righteous comes along, hopefully all those little nuances in the universe work in my favor.

For now, I plan to wake up every tomorrow and do what it takes to keep improving myself. Some days, that means looking in and remembering where I come from and what that means for my future lover.

I promise I am worth waiting for.

20130310-232058.jpg

Cautioner

Life is by far not perfect, but incredible things have happened over the past few months.

I’ll be bold and say, at the very least, the uncertainty and the chases in my journey are more exciting than “happily ever after.”