As time passes and life remains as busy and chaotic as ever, I sometimes forget to put myself out in the dating world. Sometimes it happens easily, and I date someone for a little while until it fades out. Other times I go months without flinching at the thought of having someone around. My priorities flutter back and forth and sometimes independence wins over.
However, I can’t help but occasionally have intrusive thoughts that tell me that I need someone. That maybe if someone was in my life at this moment some part of who I am or my life would be better. Maybe I would get to travel somewhere with them, or eat dinner at the restaurant I keep driving by and wondering about. Maybe in this spring weather we could be spending time outside going hiking or helping me not go crazy as I try to write my thesis.
I know these thoughts merely make me human; wanting someone around or wondering about potential partners is completely natural. I see friends and family members go through the same questions in their minds, or spend time talking about the same uncertainty as they experience it. These thoughts are not uncommon, I think we can all agree on that.
However, this morning I had a thought that was potentially groundbreaking for me. As I was studying, my mind began to wander–a highly effective procrastination technique that I am proud to say I have perfected–and it stumbled across uncharted territory.
I looked down at the work on my page and thought to myself that what I had written was actually quite smart. My mind has carried me through eighteen straight years of school, an accomplishment that I don’t stop to credit myself for nearly enough. Similarly, after recently completing a half marathon, I realized my body has also carried me through more than its share of obstacles over the years.
Then, of all the thoughts I was having, the weirdest one of all occurred. My brain said “what if instead of me needing someone in my life, someone is out there needing me?” and I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after that. It had never once in all my years of dating occurred to me that maybe I was needed. That maybe the endurance I was seeing within myself was what would keep somebody else going during their hard times.
The shock of these thoughts, particularly being directed towards myself instead of everyone around me struck me. If anyone else around me had ran that race, I would have been super proud of them, but I hadn’t taken more than an hour after the race to feel proud of myself. All these years of school have recently left me feeling very burnt out, but I never stopped to think about how much I had accomplished during all that time.
We are trained to be selfless, giving people, and in no way am I trying to undermine the importance of this. Yet, who is stopping to teach us to treat ourselves with the same kind of love that we treat everyone around us with? Who is reminding us that we are needed and wanted in return? Who is telling us to focus solely on how much we need other people, and not nearly enough on how much we ourselves have to offer?
Maybe my intrusive thoughts are right and some part of my life would be made better by the presence of someone else, but that person’s life would improve equally by my presence. The dating world is cruel and painful, and beautiful and fun, but one thing it isn’t is particularly uplifting. It’s time we all started reminding ourselves about what we have to offer, about our accomplishments and our strength. It’s time we realized that being a partner means meeting halfway, and that means we too have to travel a distance of our own.
Maybe being human means craving love, compassion and friendships, but that shouldn’t prevent us from maintaining who we are. Today my brain proved to be stronger than ever, and I am proud and grateful and invariably content.
If only every day we all treated ourselves this well, the world would be a drastically different place.