Inspired by Courtney Colwell's piece, No, I Don't Date. Here's Why, brought to my attention on Facebook by my friend Kristin Lajeunesse, I felt compelled to weigh in on this matter as it relates to self-love.
I found Ms. Colwell's story very relatable and spot-on on so many levels. She talks about her fulfilling life as a singleton and the happiness she has with it. I could not agree more. Like Ms. Colwell, my life is chock-full of amazing experiences, great friends, awesome travel, and professional success. And like a lot of women out there, I'm sure, I have not measured my life within the confines of a man's acceptance or let one define my worth. (I love myself too much to give someone that kind of power over me.) If, while dating, someone isn't showing enough interest or making an equal effort, then I will happily walk away. I don't need to be with someone so badly that I resort to desperation or insecurities. Or as my friend says in such a case, If it doesn't stop, it's not your train. There will be another one.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a prude, man-hater, or otherwise, but rather, I think, exercise a good amount of common sense. There are many wonderful things about being in a relationship, but also just as many about not being in one, and if you're NOT in one it's no reason to be treated as a leper. My mom raised me well in that she encouraged my independence long ago as a kid. There were times when I couldn't find a friend to go with me to the movies or to the mall and I would whine that I then could not go. She was never one for that attitude and encouraged me to go alone. "Don't sit around and wait for anybody. If you do you'll never go anywhere or do anything. If you want to go somewhere and no one can join you, just go by yourself." Can you imagine what great affect the wisdom of those words had on me? To a young girl? Amazing. Those words contributed more to me subsequent development then anything else she could have said or done. She gave me the confidence and courage to take on the world myself - even if we were only talking about a quick trip to the mall. I also have her to thank for my big city street smarts as she eventually let me go into Chicago (from our home in Joliet) alone as a teen model. Or if she was with me I would inevitably be a block ahead of her on the streets (due to my long legs and lengthy strides) and I would wait until she caught up at the next corner. But what she never did was tell me to slow down and wait for her. She let me walk at my own pace and kept an eye on me up ahead and let me deal with all the catcalls, hisses and whistles from men on the streets. But not to worry, when she reached those same men after having witnessed them harass me, she would give them a piece of her mind. It was amazing to watch! This little bitty thing serving a construction worker a new asshole. All of these experiences were invaluable as I developed into a woman and had a positive affect on my self-confidence, which, in turn, has fostered my self-love and resistance to just be in a relationship for the sake of being in one. The skills I learned as a kid taught me that I was enough as I was and did not need the validation of others to make me feel whole.
With Moma T the night I won Harper's Bazaar's Fabulous At Every Age contest.
However, I am not immune to heartbreak or from finding myself in a less than desirable or unhealthy situation (child, have I got stories!), just like everyone else. The difference - and I believe this is what Ms. Colwell was getting at - is how I handle such romantic obstacles. It's taken some time but I can now better see much earlier on if something isn't right for whatever reason, and if it isn't, I'm okay takong the solo Tall T road. Like Ms. Colwell, I know that that road is paved with gold and warrants many rewards and is just as fulfilling as any other. It is a peaceful autonomous space where I always have my best interest at heart and can do whatever the heck I want with my time. I travel freely and often and have wonderful loving friends and family in my life, including my four-legged daughter Avery, who gives me so much unconditional love that it's crazy. She is not a substitute for a partner, but we have a good life, the two of us.
Of course, I am open to dating and relationships but will not make it my life's mission to finding The One because as far as I am concerned I've already found The One. Myself. I am secure and am largely happy where I am in life and love myself and accept me for who I am, and isn't that what we look for in someone else? For that person to love us unconditionally and be secure in that love? We are all fine as we are and are our own best Ones. You just have to believe it. The second you go about your business and live the life you want, is usually the second that other person will appear to enhance your journey.
Or he or she won't. And that's fine too.