When it comes to dating, I am far from being an expert. Most of my relationships have been short lived and ended in disaster. This was mostly due to incredibly low self esteem and crippling social anxiety. It’s really hard to date when you are in the midst of a panic attack that leads you to think that you are a worthless piece of crap (anxiety and low self esteem really makes you think stupid things). If you have ever been in the same boat, let me tell you this: your brain is lying. You are wonderful and worthy, and no, the world will not end if you stumble over your words or say something stupid. If that were the case, I would have screwed over this planet ages ago.
When I was in my senior year of college, I had decided I was tired of feeling like trash and having panic attacks anytime I had to talk to someone I didn’t know. I had been faced with yet another broken heart, and that was the final straw for me. I swore off men and relationships until I could figure myself out. I started out small (it’s really hard to get over anxiety when your low self esteem likes to fuel it) by taking myself to the movies, then treated myself to things I wanted like books and clothes. I ate out, I visited friends, I learned new recipes, I took care of myself. It was as if I was dating myself, and I discovered that there was so much about me to love. I was smart, creative, funny, and I was a very caring person. I came to love who I was.
The most important thing was that I no longer thought that I needed a man to complete me. You hear that ladies? I was already whole.
The media likes to tell women that they need a man to complete them, like they are some sort of broken being. But we aren’t broken, ladies. Perhaps life has fractured us a bit, but we aren’t broken, and some man isn’t the missing piece to our lives. We are whole human beings. We have our own aspirations and dreams, and if that doesn’t include getting married and pumping out kids, that’s okay. If it does, that’s okay too. The important thing is that we get out of the mindset that we need a man in our lives to make us feel complete. We are already complete.
I will repeat: we are already complete.
After I learned to love myself, I figured I was ready to love someone else. I wasn’t desperate for a boyfriend anymore, but I did want someone to share my time with. Most of my friends were busy with their own relationships, or too deep into their careers to even know what day of the week it was. Problem was, where was I supposed to meet someone? I didn’t like going to bars, bookstores and libraries are not the magical love finders hallmark movies like to make them seem, my jobs weren’t allowing me to meet any men, and I did not have the income for a gym membership. What’s left after that?
I will admit that I was avoiding it, because I carried this idea that only people looking for a quick fling or desperate middle aged women used online dating. I wasn’t either of those type of people. Even after I finally bit the bullet and joined a couple of sites (two of my friends had met their boyfriends through online dating, and I decided to give it a go), I wasn’t crazy about it still. I felt like it was unromantic and desperate, especially after all the creeps (and dic pics) that I had to sift through. I was about to give up, when I found my diamond in the rough, or rather, he found me.
To look back on it now, I can see how romantic it actually is. It was like falling in love with your pen pal.
Three years later, and we are still together.
The modern love story of the millennial generation isn’t about falling in love with someone else. It’s about falling in love with yourself. It’s one of the hardest things to do, honestly, but it’s worth it, because everything that comes after makes it worth it.