Happy Valentine’s Day!!!! Isn’t this exactly the kind of content you expected to see today?! Not exactly? Oh…well this is how we do things around here. 🙂
I’ve been meaning to write this blog post since before the new year. Now, with V-Day in our midst, it feels fitting to finally get on it. If you’re like me, you’ll be celebrating this Valentine’s Day with a glass of wine, the dogs, and a heavy carb load. I’ve spent many years experiencing this polarizing holiday in this fashion–but this is the first time I’ll do so happily.
The past six months have completely opened my eyes to how much I don’t need a man–none of us do, really. I mean that in no aggressive nor demeaning manner either, I simply mean to say, none of us need a man; we are perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves. Instead, we choose to have the right one when/if we choose to find him.
That being said, I’m going to share with you the process I went through to conclude that I am officially the best boyfriend I ever had.
I’ve had two “big girl” relationships in my short time as an adult; one of which was a big but toxic love, the other was an eye-opening love. Both 100% necessary to bring me to where I am today–happy. I have always been the girl that needed a shoulder, more so emotionally than anything. I have no idea what childhood trauma caused this, but it’s something I’ve experienced most of my young-adulthood, as I think many girls do.
However, I’ve realized over the past six months that I never actually needed a man. That I was in fact filling a void that was caused by something else–ie, poor self-care, lack of confidence, circumstantial issues, etc. But that’s not ground-breaking news, we’ve all been there and we’ve all witnessed it. Let’s be honest, every female can spot another woman’s ulterior motives from a mile away–spotting it in ourselves is a whole other beast.
Since moving to Nashville in September, I have completely reassessed what I need and why I need it. It’s funny how not knowing anyone forces you to get along with yourself. 🙂 I could have easily thrown myself at any and every person I’ve met here and sought out superficial relationships to fill the emotional void that being alone causes. But instead, I’ve done the work and looked inward for fulfillment for the first time maybe ever.
In my case, it all started with the accident. For the first time ever, I had to make big, scary, 43-year-old size decisions all by myself. In that time I found myself leaning on people that I probably shouldn’t have–but fuck, who can blame me? However, I also took the opportunity to step up own my own terms. My first brave act being the decision to immediately return to school as my senior year of college started less than two weeks after the accident. I think everyone in my family was shocked, actually, my dad was scared shitless that I was getting in way over my head. 🙂 Wise, father. But guess what? Nine months later, I walked across that stage and received my college diploma on time–and in fact, ended my strongest two semesters of college ever.
I made a lot of brave decisions during that time. Almost like an avalanche, with each decision they started to get bigger and braver. Eventually I started to see my own path and realized that I didn’t need anyone, male or otherwise, to carry me down it.
You know what’s funny? One of the most empowering decisions I’ve made yet was in buying a truck. Seriously. This 5’2″ girl walked into a Ford dealership and found the biggest baddest truck on the lot. You should see the faces I get from men when I hop out. (Literally, hop–it’s like a 3-foot drop.) But in all seriousness, buying that vehicle was one of the most terrifying and simultaneously empowering decisions of my life. I think in part because it was one of the first decisions that would be noticed publicly.
Most of my responsibilities up until this point had occurred behind closed doors and were known by very few. But this one was a big, bold, public illustration of my independence. And you know what? I wish I would have done it sooner–logistically, speaking. If you know me, you know I am the queen of doing things myself–furniture? I’ll move it. Sod? I’ll lay it. Trash? I’ll haul it. I look back and think how much easier my life would have been during the 11 months prior. Not only was the truck a tangible manifestation of my growth, but more importantly, a tool. I had officially reached the point where I was able to recognize what I needed, what would truly add value to my life, and I made it a reality.
This leads me to my next point. I personally find an overwhelming amount of fulfillment and self-worth from being self-sufficient. It’s human nature. When we depend on other people for things, whether its emotional support, financial support, or otherwise, we give them power. By taking care of yourself, you regain your power.
I don’t mean to imply that letting other people help is wrong or unhealthy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But it takes great strength and self-awareness to recognize what areas are truly appropriate to ask for help in versus what areas you’ve let slide for one reason or another.
For example, I used to depend on my mom for a lot of emotional support–more than what I think was healthy. We struggled with boundaries in multiple facets of our relationship which left each of us carrying loads that weren’t our burdens to bear. In my case, I depended on her far too much for confidence-boosts and reassurance–it felt right in the moment, that’s what mom’s are for, right?? To some extent, yes. But I had taken it to the point where I needed her input before I felt empowered to take action. I had not only given her the power–power that in the wrong person’s hands could have been detrimental; but also, I had taken from myself the ability to cope and find internal self-confidence.
On the flip side, not everyone will support your self-sufficiency. I know a handful of people that derive their own fulfillment from helping others–sometimes to a toxic level. For example, when you start to need them less, it may highlight their internal need to take care of you and spark issues. Which honestly goes into a whole realm of establishing boundaries, but that’s a conversation for another day. My point is, regardless of how others react, owning your own power is the first step. That way, when someone comes into your life who deserves a piece of that power, you can consciously and responsibly share it with them. Rather than recklessly handing it out like candy to the wrong people.
Each and every time I made one of those challenging, yet empowering decisions, there was always someone on the sidelines criticizing me. And that’s not to say that there aren’t things I would do differently now. I’m human, I made mistakes along the way, but I did the best that I could at the time. And as far as I’m concerned, everything worked out exactly as it was supposed to.
It’s not always people actively criticizing you either, sometimes their criticism will come in the form of no action at all. They won’t show up, they won’t do their part in supporting you, or they won’t applaud your wins. As you evolve as a person, you will begin to identify the people who aren’t headed down the same path as you. That can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if they’ve been in your life for a very long time. (An issue I continue to deal with despite being consciously aware of it.)
All of this is inevitable, however, that. is. okay.
Learning to accept that you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea is a part of growing up. Some people learn that early on, others later; but in order to be truly happy, we have to learn it sometime. In contrast, be mindful to recognize those who are criticizing you in order to lift you and those who are simply throwing rocks at things that shine. As long as you can tell the two apart and let the bad ones go, you will be content with your decisions in life.
Once you have taken the baby steps, regained your power, and accepted that criticism will always exist, you will be well on your way to being your own damn boyfriend!
I can remember so many years of my life where I would do something and play it out in my head how I think someone else would react. Whether it was spending extra time on my makeup or wearing heels instead of flats or making sure I was the funniest person in the room. wHaTeVeR it was, the intention was to serve someone other than myself. These days, I barely remember what that feels like. I don’t obsess over who engages with my social media, I don’t buy things hoping they’ll get someone’s attention, I don’t even bother to care if my outfit is appropriate for the grocery store (though occasionally I should asses my outfit choices).
Today, it’s about me. How do I feel about this picture that I want to post? How do I feel in this outfit? What do I want to do?
Now that you’ve really honed every tool you need to be your own boyfriend in 2020, it’s important we touch on the finesse associated such an endeavor.
I believe it boils down to one sentence: Never take yourself too seriously.
So while it’s important to be selfish sometimes and really take your life by the reins–it’s equally important to remember the world does not revolve around you. Sometimes power comes in the form of silence. Sometimes it’s being the person who chooses to stay out of an issue; the one who smiles at strangers regardless of if they’ll smile back; the one who lets a friend post a less-than-flattering insta pic of you because the memory was precious; the one who reaches out to a person in need.
There is a responsibility associated with your power. Choose how you use it wisely.
Once you can genuinely reach that point, the game is forever changed.
Girl it is not only a new year, but a new damn decade. Be who you want to be. Wear what you want to wear. Go where you want to go. Buy a huge truck and drive it like a bad bitch, if that’s what makes you happy. Idgaf who you were the last ten years, if its time to make a change, let yourself.
You are exactly who you define yourself as–no one else has that power.
All my love.