Almost every young person seems to find some empowerment in identifying as “strong and independent.” But, when you answer to one person (who isn’t your mom) for three years straight and then suddenly separate from them in your life, it can get really weird really fast. For me, this spring semester in my senior year of college is the first time I’m single since I was 15 years old. Yeah, it feels really weird.
Going into college with a boyfriend was weird, but it felt right at the time, and I certainly don’t regret it. Lessons exist in everything we experience, and I grew immensely throughout my entire college career, not despite being a relationship, but because of it. Since we were long-distance, I felt like I could almost focus more on my schoolwork because I wasn’t actively looking for anyone else in the romance department, and he satisfied many of my needs by being a best friend too. So, what happened?
I went abroad twice throughout my college career, once as a freshman to London, and then again as a senior to Washington, D.C., the latter of which is where the breakup happened. I was still growing and I didn’t feel that he was coming with me. I had been exposed to the world, but he was still back home and not showing signs of going anywhere anytime soon. Of course that didn’t mean he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing. He had made huge strides in his own career by becoming a firefighter, but, for me, that meant he was further tied down to home, and I didn’t want to go there after college. I wanted to continue my explorations and go wherever my career and my heart needed me to go.
When I ended things with him my friend said to me (and still says to me to this day) that it makes her “really sad,” just because we were together for such a long time. Change is hard! Of course it’s sad. But it’s also exciting, because what lies ahead is unknown and bountiful with opportunities. Sure, I have no idea how Tinder works, or how to talk to other people as a single person. I still sometimes want to talk about my ex to other people as if he were still my boyfriend, but I’m figuring it out and it’s ok. Romance flows naturally when it’s right and the universe has a way of timing things just right when they’re meant to be.
What I’ve figured out so far is that being single is what you make it, just like being in a relationship is what you make it. For three years, I imagined that I would have my boyfriend waiting by my side at graduation, celebrating with me, building a family together, and loving together just like we always did. What I didn’t know was that I needed to build with myself first.
At the end of the day, we find some people that we connect with, and we might ride the same wavelength for some time with them, but we are still separated vessels. Feel your own energy. Take the time to do some introspection and learn about yourself first and foremost. Build a life with yourself first before anyone else. You got this!