Being single on the holidays used to depress me. Last year, I didn't want to leave the bed, and even my instagram timeline was discouraging. Every meme was about not getting invited to dinner by a significant other because he wasn’t really serious about you. That was me. To top everything off, all my siblings and cousins had special guests at our family dinner. 2016 was a year for the books.
This year, although I’m still very much single, I’m happily off the market and spending much needed time pouring into myself while strengthening existing relationships. So what’s different? How did I go from not wanting to leave my bed a year ago, to possibly voluntarily hosting family and friends for Christmas and New Years?
In hindsight, everything seems so small, but this time last year I thought my world was imploding. I was forced to face the realization that the man I had been talking to for almost a year, was not interested in taking things further. I know what you’re thinking, that’s it? No, that was the icing on the cake.
To be honest, having started my career straight after grad school, I expected the rest of my life to go according to plan. I had my degrees, house, and long term savings plan, but internally I was still longing to check off the “start-a-family” box. It didn’t help knowing that my mom was married for two years and pregnant with me by the age of 26.
So last year, at 29, never having a successful long-term relationship, I was left hopeless believing that love was not in the stars for me. I felt alone. I had a loving family around me, but I wasn’t happy internally or for anyone else because I felt something was missing.
Now, I told y’all I’m still single, so obviously that missing piece was not another person. After a few therapy sessions, prayer, hours of alone time, personal development books, church services, and countless girl talks, I realized I needed authenticity. I wanted a relationship, but the relationships with the people around me-- namely my closest friends and family-- were merely surface connections. We lived behind facades-- always putting our best foot forward, rarely unveiling the bare truth and hurt inside.
I was looking to start a relationship, but I was missing the lessons I needed to learn. I was rushing through life hitting checkpoints and bypassing my personal growth. I needed to slow down and focus on me. I had unaddressed disappointments and pain left from years of dating. I built walls and no longer knew how to connect with another person deeply, so I blindly engaged in unhealthy cycles of attracting the same kind of man. My value and sense of self were intertwined with another person’s interest in me. I had been spiraling for years without realizing it.
This year, I’ve been intentional about exploring my actions and sharing my pain. I pinpointed the reasons I attracted and entertained so many unhappy situations. I’ve built meaningful connections with the women around me, and we talk freely about what’s not going right in our lives. In these vulnerable moments, we speak life to one another. The more I learn about myself, the better I am able to connect with other people.
I can enjoy the holidays this year because I have accepted this single period as one of growth. As a result, I can genuinely enjoy and appreciate the moments I have with the people I love the most.
If you are going into the holiday single again, shift your focus. Reflect on what this season is teaching you. Think about who and what you have in your life that you can be grateful for and enjoy the time you have with them. If we aren’t faithful to what we have, we shouldn’t be expecting more.
What are you learning in your single season?