With every hopelessly romantic bone in my body, I've never even been on a date.
I was five when my sister and I suggestively glanced at one another with our Barbie dolls in hand before smashing their faces together.
I was ten when, for the first time, I felt what could be best described as a strange inner compulsion to constantly be near my elementary school friend (he who shall not be named.) He was the funniest and the coolest ever. He also knew how to flawlessly swing across all eight monkey bars without even getting any marks on his hands. I think that was also the first time I got rejected...
I was thirteen when Friday nights at the mall food court transitioned from flinging orange chicken at one another to watching as my friends exaggeratedly cackled and reapplied cherry red lip gloss religiously just to get a .2-second glance from the seventh-grade Fabio.
I was seventeen when ‘boys’ started becoming ‘men’ and things like second or third base became “sooo 2015.”
And now I’m twenty-two, with the same capacity for dating as my ten-year-old brain had. Unamused and just wanting to swing on monkey bars.
I've been a hopeless romantic since I was old enough to create an Ovoo account behind my parents' backs. My mind wandered from fantasies about being Y/N during late-night fan fiction reads to daydreaming about being pointed out during a stadium concert by my favorite one-direction member. At age thirteen, I forcefully thrust myself into the dating scene because everyone else did, and I wasted so many Friday nights overexerting myself in the pavilion skate rink just to barely get noticed by a sixth-grade Zac Efron impersonator. I really could’ve used that time instead to practice my upright spins. My romantic life has consisted of useless swiping, late-night interactions with strangers over a cheap beer at a dingy bar, and loads of self-introspection. Loads.
Growing up as a profound lover of Carrie Bradshaw, I thought I would have found myself more invested in the dating scene and not avidly against it. But anytime I attempted to dip my toes in the murky waters that is the dating pool, I immediately became hyper-vigilant as to what lay underneath, because it probably has teeth and it’ll bite and it’ll harm you. I became unamused by the egotistical mind games, time-slotted text back, and brittle, soulless niceties until a quick view of my Instagram proved I’m deserving of kind affection. It was all so redundant.
Being a nonattending customer of Dating Inc. comes with a sense of false entitlement. Sure, you’ve never had to be subjected to being stood up by a man who was never family holiday material, but you’ve also never felt the euphoric rush that comes with being in love. With that being said, being single gives you immense room for self-discovery and exploration. Here’s everything I’ve learned about surviving and thriving as a late bloomer.
Stop comparing yourself to “experienced” people. Setting a milestone for yourself should never be based on other people's experiences. And it also shouldn’t look like a grocery store checklist. We weren’t put on this earth to observe what other people do, write it down on a list, and check it off as we go. Your life experiences are not a grocery store checklist; they’re an interactive museum. Encounter your milestones with a sense of adventure, explore, take your time observing everything you see, feel everything, and enjoy yourself. There’s no need to rush out of an experience you paid so much to get into.
Celebrate the mundanity of your single years. It’s not just a corny quote from The Office about “wishing there was a way to know you’re in the good old days without actually leaving them.” With every tick of the clock and month that passes us by, there will always be something to reminisce about, even when you’re feeling dissatisfied with your current stage of life. Enjoy the mundanity of single life. My friend and I used to attend criminal justice school together and trudge through upper Manhattan before the sun rose with an academic weight on our shoulders and frowns on our faces. At the time, I felt as though these school days were just another day, but today, I reminisced frequently about the ordinary yet hilarious days we shared. The days we dreaded and dragged our feet during now serve as a fond memory of youth and experiencing college life together.
It’s all a part of the journey. Celebrate the nights in, the canceled plans, the shitty dates, and the lonely Friday nights. One day you will beg for the same peace you have currently. Everything will come to you exactly when you are ready for it and not a moment later.
Just one more time in case you need to hear it: everything will come to you exactly when you are ready for it and not a moment later.