I’ve wasted way too much time in my life hopping from relationship to relationship, looking for the perfect guy to transform my life into some magical fairytale. After my last breakup, however, I decided enough was enough. Instead of immediately moving on to the next guy, I spent time focusing on myself — and it was the best decision I ever could have made.
- I faced my pain head on instead of trying to avoid it or pretend it wasn’t there. When I was constantly running from relationship to relationship, drinking away my sorrows, and dodging pain with distractions, I shortchanged my healing process. So this time around, I let myself cry in the cereal aisle. I allowed myself be angry about my douchebag ex, and I let myself feel the pain I’d spent my whole life running from. The result? I finally processed my baggage so that I could let go of it completely.
- I took inventory of my life and faced some hard truths about myself. I thought about everything I’d done so far in my life and everything I’d like to do. I took stock of where I was and where I wanted to be in the future, my goals and my hopes for myself. I drove in the car with the radio off, the silence teaching me that I’m my best companion. By facing hard facts about my previous relationships and allowing myself to grieve, I was better able to figure out what I wanted for myself.
- I learned to accept my flaws and love myself instead of talking myself down. By letting myself get to know “me” without being part of an “us,” I learned that I’m kind of a big deal. I reclaimed everything I’d let fall to the wayside when I was in a relationship. When you spend enough time alone, you’re destined to learn about yourself in ways that just aren’t possible when you’re part of a couple. I started to know myself in a way I never have, and I liked myself more than I thought I ever could.
- I nixed social media and started living in the real world. As tempting as spending hours of my alone time scrolling through my brother’s girlfriend’s sister’s ex-boyfriend’s Instagram was, I ditched the distractions. Every time I felt myself pulled into the vortex, I would pull out whatever self-help book I was reading, meditate, take my dog for a walk or anything else that would pull me back into the real world. It worked wonders.
- I worked on my issues instead of assuming everyone else would just deal with them. And when I say this, I mean I WORKED on them. I got a therapist and worked through my childhood hang-ups and propensity for falling in love with the wrong men. I came to terms with the damaging way I over-analyze everything in the universe. And something crazy happened: It worked. Now, I’m a much happier, healthier person than I was before.
- I got outside. I took walks around the block. I ran a few miles around a reservoir. I biked rugged trails. I saw the things in our world I’d been ignoring, and I was introduced to a beauty I’d been voluntarily blind to.
- I learned the real meaning of independence. I prioritized me-time above all else even though there were a million things I needed to do. I took baths and read books with big words. I went to bed early on Friday nights instead of going out and spending the rest of the weekend hungover. I took pride in being totally self-sufficient and not relying on a guy to make me happy. By making myself a priority, I set the stage for my next relationship. I wouldn’t get lost in someone else at the expense of my own happiness.
- I traveled. I went anywhere I could go. I explored foreign countries, drove to nearby cities, and just walked around. I found nearby trails to hike, sat on empty beaches and found cool old countryside churches to sit in. Why? Just because I could.
- I decided to go for what I want in life, guy or no guy. My time spent taking care of myself allowed me to realize what I wanted out of my life and what kind of man I’d be willing to step out of my glorious singleness for. It wasn’t going to be just anyone; I had to go through dozens of dates to find the one who made the cut. But when I did, I was ready for him.