Growing up, I honestly cannot remember a time I wasn’t boy-crazy. I always had a crush on someone and more times than not, I would make that very known. I didn’t often give myself the option of being single. But I was also taught to embrace my independence. I’ve always been comfortable enough in my own skin.
After my ex and I broke up, I realized I had sacrificed myself and was lost coming out of it. It was like a wave came whooshing down on me. Then all of a sudden, I was floating atop. I may have put the relationship above myself but I learned a lot as I reclaimed my independence afterwards.
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It’s easy (and totally normal!) to become swept up in wanting to be with someone. But relationships work best when you’re already comfortable and confident with yourself. Being single is a great opportunity to take the time to develop that confidence and figure out who you are before you head into that next relationship.
Take a sober look at reality while being single
Personally, I think I was lost before I started dating my ex, and I used the relationship as a distraction. I devoted so much time and energy to the relationship that I allowed myself to fall to the wayside. As a single, independent lady, it’s important to take a snapshot of who you currently are and compare it to who you want to be. It’s not going to be easy. You will have to dig deep and do some serious introspection. But trust me — it’s worth it to understand where you are emotionally and physically.
Commit to taking action
Once you gain insight into yourself, you must commit to the change you want to see. You can start by making broad statements and working backwards to develop the actions you’ll take to get there. For instance, maybe you felt like your past relationship kept you from writing that novel that has been burning inside of you. Develop a writing schedule that will get you there… and commit!
Find joy in your independence while being single
There is a wonderful sense of freedom that occurs when you decide not to care about what anyone thinks and do things because you want to. So why not go to the movies by yourself? Take a risk on that super edgy haircut! Apply to grad school. When you’re in a relationship, it can be hard to figure out what you truly want for yourself versus what you want for the relationship. Now is the time to make that distinction.
You have to be comfortable with you and who you are before you can add a healthy relationship to the mix. One of the most effective ways I’ve found to practice self-care is affirmations. Affirmations are essentially positive thinking. I am capable of doing great things! Replace all your negative thoughts with positive affirmations and you’re on your way to a healthy self.
Know when to ask for help
Just because you are a single, independent lady doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask for help when you need it. Yes, tons of productive introspection should be happening to delve into the core of your being. However, sometimes you need that outside perspective to guide you. It’s ok!
Know when to say yes to the right person
We should all be happy with our single selves. It’s important to love who you are and know that you are capable of being enough. But, no one is perfect. It’s not humanly possible. So don’t pass up an opportunity for a romantic relationship just because you feel like you have a lot to figure out still. We all do! The point of productive singlehood is that we challenge and develop ourselves, not to keep ourselves from potentially life-changing opportunities. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to say no to the wrong relationship. That can be just as important as knowing when to say yes!
Shelby Newsome is a Maryland-based writer and bookseller who writes stories about mental health, culture, compelling people, and more. She enjoys intellectual discussions, desserts, and cuddling with her cat Butter.