For a while I have been wanting to write on this topic but I have been nervous or afraid to be vulnerable. Today, when thinking about what I would write for this week's Mondays with Madison, I had this overwhelming feeling that I just needed to get these thoughts off of my chest.
My experience with relationships is a large part of my story. It is a part that I used to let make me feel insecure invaluable. Now however, I delight in the person it has allowed me to develop into and the things it has helped me learn.
I have always been a people person. In every situation and setting I strive to develop and dive into connections with those around me. Although being a people person is most definitely a positive characteristic, embodying this also meant that early on I often allowed others' opinions of me or the examples that others set to greatly influence how I felt about myself. This is something that I am still working on to this day.
In my mind, it wasn't until middle school that relationships became a REAL thing. Suddenly relationships were more than just having the title of boyfriend or girlfriend. While I know now that these relationships were still very basic, a middle school relationship included nights spent skating with your significant other at Capitol Ice (shout out to my Middleton friends), holding hands, and cute but cliche gifts for birthdays and holidays. Seeing this, I suddenly gained a desire to be in a relationship.
I was still in the stage where I so desperately wanted to be in the "in" crowd and at this point that meant having a boyfriend. I began to allow this to be a part of my identity that needed to be fulfilled. Needless to say, this need was never satisfied and I went through all of middle school without ever having a boyfriend. Because of my solid friendships, my firm faith, my love for my family, and my focus on academics and extracurriculars, this never deeply affected me. However, there always was thoughts of doubt in the back of my mind. I started to question who I was and wonder if I was worthy of being in a relationship/what was wrong with me since I wasn't in one.
Entering high school, I had a very low level of confidence. My experience with dance team my freshman year changed all of this. I was forced to become confident in who I am, determined to make a difference, and sure of my values. I remember after this experience was one of the first times that I maturely looked in the mirror and was happy with and proud of what I saw.
Although my self-confidence increased, my thoughts about relationships (or lack thereof) persisted and still do to this day. Throughout high school I got close with guys but part of me was always scared. I am definitely a hopeless romantic and I always wanted everything to be perfect and meaningful. I didn't want to date someone just to date them, I wanted to see something in the relationship. I didn't want to get hurt.
So too often I pulled far away upon reaching a point near entering a relationship. I ended high school having never been in a real relationship and having never had my first kiss. I felt stupid and awkward. This is still where I stand in terms of relationships and I still feel this way from time to time. For so long I have seen relationships as such a priority and as where one's identity "should" lie and thus I focused my attention on relationships and the fact that I wasn't in one.
Despite the fact that I write this still never having been in a relationship and never having had my first kiss, the last years of high school and this first one of college have presented me with a new perspective thanks to organizations I have been involved with and people I have met.
I have learned that being single is a blessing, not a curse! I have been able to learn so much about myself, become a better friend, utilize my time by exploring new friendships and activities, and it has made me so much more excited and filled with anticipation for when it will finally click.
Being single has taught me so much about myself. I have focused my time inwards by exploring who God made me to be, what God's plan for my life is, and the things that make me happy as an individual. I have become confident in not only my looks but my personality, my past, and what the future holds for me. God has totally used this time to challenge me in my thinking and teach me new ways. I have come to realize that I have a tendency to see/know a nice guy and quickly jump to thinking of a relationship. This mindset is SO inherently wrong and this is something that I am working to correct daily. I am also working to surround myself with genuine, loving, fun people who just make me happy and foster my love for myself, those around me, and life in general.
For Christmas I received an amazing book called "31 Prayers for my Future Husband" by Jennifer and Aaron Smith which is a whole book full of prayers for different aspects of the person you will one day call your husband (there is also a future-wife version) and plenty of journaling space. This book has helped me change my pattern of thinking to a healthy, faith-filled method.
Being single has also taught me to be a better friend and pour time and energy into my friendships. I have come to understand that no matter if there is or is not a guy in my life, my true friendships will remain and thus they deserve my time and energy. I continue to work to remain dedicated to my closest friends: the ones who truly know and value me and with whom I have tons of memories. I know for a fact that when I enter a relationship (if that is God's will) I will still make my friendships the upmost priority because they mean so much to me. Through situations where I have felt as though I have forgotten by a friend because of their focus on their relationship, I have gained a more considerate perspective and I would never want to do that to a friend.
Finally, being single has pushed me to explore new friendships and activities. If I had been in a relationship previously, I truly believe that I wouldn't have had the time or drive to get involved in the things I am involved in now and I wouldn't have felt as strong of a need to meet new people. It is because of this that I have been able to develop other passions and loves such as my interest in journalism, my desire to continue my faith development, and my passion for being involved in my community. Just in this first year of college I have gotten to interact with so many AMAZING individuals and I have gotten to be a part of organizations that I know will continue to shape my life.
Don't get the wrong idea from all of this, I don't want to stay single for life! The part of me that yearns for a relationship is still there, but the intentions behind this are more pure and now I am at peace and patient- eager to see God's plan for my life unfold. My Pinterest wedding board is still bursting at the seams with ideas, and I still think excitedly about having a family in the future (and getting that dog I've been asking for since age 2). Waiting this long and being willing to wait longer has made me understand that in the end, the waiting will be SO well worth it. In the end, I will finally be able to see the puzzle pieces fit together just the way they were meant to.
If any of you are in a situation that is in any way similar to mine, I urge you to root yourself deep in your faith and try diligently to change your perspective and allow this to impact and alter how you live. While this is still a huge struggle of mine, it is a part of my life that I am confident God is slowly but surely reconciling.
Thank you for reading and for your support!