Saturday, March 5, 2011

Boy Advice.........

It may seem funny that I start giving advice to my single friends (usually to stay single) right AFTER I end up in a relationship. However, looking back over the last month (!), I have been able to understand why, after nearly four years of relative singlehood, I finally feel comfortable in a relationship. For me, I needed those years of being single to honestly analyze my values, explore my talents, develop my friendships, and take travel/academic/career opportunities. I needed that time to learn to be comfortable by myself, to understand that it's only by following my God and learning what I can give to the world that can make me happy.

For many (heterosexual) girls I know, that isn't the case. I've seen so many end up in long term relationships that end up stuck in dead ends, but have been in them so long they're so afraid of leaving. I have friends I've known for years and can name one partner for each year. I have friends who date guys they KNOW aren't good for them but because the guy knows how to smooth talk them to death. I have friends who give up opportunities like studying abroad because they're afraid of leaving said boy. Really, ladies?

You see, when I first came to college, I was just getting out of a relationship. It was long distance, long term, with little communication and nothing other than a FB declaration to prove that we were together. Really, it was time to get out but I still was hurt. At the time, I was a very naive freshman, may have been book smart but definitely not street smart. Luckily, I had older friends who were willing to show me the way. On top of that, they helped me when I realized I had some emotional trauma I needed to deal with. To put it lightly, freshman year, especially spring semester, was a tough year for me and I lost a lot of confidence in myself, academically (burnt out of a premed program) and otherwise. That would NOT have been the time to enter into a new relationship. I would have dragged the poor schmuck down with me.

Sophomore year, I started rebuilding. I got my first job. I earned all A's and found the major that was truly right for me. I started looking for internships and had a really successful one. I spent a week in Cherokee Nation. I got an even better job and was able to move off campus summer before junior year. Junior year, I took up a minor in economics and started considering study abroad. Senior year, with the help of those who love me and a ton of work, I went to Kenya. Within that time, I learned how to stand up for myself, developed lasting friendships, and went on some amazing adventures. And this fall, I'm going to AR for Americorps, to tutor children and youth.

Why do I point this out? Because, senior year, I also finally entered into a relationship with someone who shares my values, is good to me, and encourages my dreams, even if it means we have to be apart from each other this fall. I was able to enter into this, because I now have confidence and strength I did not have four years ago. I was able to bring happiness into a relationship. We also have been willing to discuss difficult things, things couples usually neglect to talk about, for fear of driving the other away (even if it means a discussion of values). It's still very new to me, but, regardless of what happens, I know I won't break. Even if we don't make it, I know I won't lose myself in the process. And, if we do, well, I waited for someone good and that's all that matters.

There is a lot of value in finding yourself first. Love isn't a game. It's a choice and a willingness to die for someone if need be. You have to be strong and whole to make that choice. After all, wouldn't you want someone to do likewise for you?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful again Katie. It may seem funny to give advice after a relatively short relationship but its not always time that matters, it is about how much you know yourself and the way in which you deal with your relationship...there are people who have been married for years and they never learn the basic things that it takes to be a strong and fulfilled individual which ends up reflecting on their ability to maintain later relationships. If there was any advice that I could give these single ladies it would be to take care of yourself, to find your happiness and your strength so the man doesn't fill a void but is a complement to you. This way when when you are disappointed it wont drag you down. The only thing you can control in the end is yourself.