Thursday, 18 April 2013
list 53: how I survived the last four years as a singleton
this week marks my four year anniversary as a single lady (holla holla at my single gals.) in some ways these four years have flown by, and in other ways they have been the longest four years of my life. going from being in a long-term relationship (I was with my boyfriend for nearly 5 years) to being on your own is so hard, but I'd made it harder for myself without even realising it. for five years I'd built myself a life as 'Dan's girlfriend' and had slowly isolated myself from my friends and family, to the point where I didn't know how to be anything else. it's the WORST feeling ever to realise you've become the type of person you hate. (okay hate is a strong word, but I really can't stand overly 'coupley' couples, where they live in each other's pockets all the time and have no life outside of their relationship. yet that is exactly what I'd become!)
so over the past four years I've rebuilt myself a life that doesn't revolve around a boy - I got a new job, built up a company of my own, made new friends, went back to study more, travelled a bit, and started to work out who I am. it hasn't been easy - most of the time I've been happy being single, but there have been occasions where the desire to have a boyfriend type figure has been almost overwhelming. I know there are other people out there in a situation like mine, and I just thought I'd share some of the ways I've kept myself (mostly) positive and motivated and enjoying life as a single gal....
1. keep busy - the times when I have felt really mopey and crappy have usually been times when I am alone a lot with nothing to keep me occupied, or nothing coming up in my diary to look forward to. since becoming single I've thrown myself into all sorts of things to keep busy - I've taken diploma courses in photography, japanese, photojournalism, and visual thinking. I've passed my PADI open water diver course in Thailand. I've worked as a freelance photographer and a vintage homeware buyer, started a blog, built up my own jewellery business, taught myself photoshop, learnt how to embroider and crochet, and numerous other things. these are all things I probably wouldn't have made time to do if I was still in my relationship, but they are things I really wanted to do. being single is the perfect time to be totally selfish, and do things you want to do just because you can.
2. don't feel sorry for yourself - this links into the previous point as the more time you have to sit and think, the more likely you are to throw yourself a pity party. it's okay to feel sorry for yourself for a while. I didn't leave my bed for two weeks straight, and hardly spoke to or saw anyone. I pretty much had to burn the clothes I lived in for that time. the only reason I'm not still there is because I had to finish my dissertation for my degree (excellent timing huh? we broke up 6 weeks before all my final projects and my dissertation had to be handed in. I came so close to not handing anything in, and throwing away 3 years of hard work. crazy.) but when the pity party ended, I didn't let myself mope. not alone at least. if I needed to feel sad I would invite someone over and tell them about how I felt. putting how I was feeling into words, and sharing it with someone else, really helped me to move on as I could analyse my emotions far better than if they were just swimming around in my brain.
3. embrace the change - when me and Dan split up my whole life changed. I lost a lot of friends. not straight away, but over time. now I have the most incredible friends, who totally get who I am, and love me despite my massive flaws, but hardly any of them knew me when I was with Dan. I think of it like a clean slate, but sometimes it makes me incredibly sad to think of the people I no longer see or speak to. but life is all about change - my life with Dan seems less like four years ago, and more like another lifetime. it would be easy to wish I was still with him, but I am finally realising that us splitting up was for the best, and that I have a much better life now.
4. let other people help you - I have trust issues. I'm a bit of a control freak. why trust someone else to do something for you, when you can do it yourself? that's pretty much my motto. but over the last four years I've learnt that I can't always make myself feel better when I'm having a bad day, but there are other people who can make me feel better if I let them. I have friends I can call or text when I have a problem, or need to talk, and they will drop everything to be there for me. luckiest gal alive right here.
5. not sweating the little things - okay, they're not such little things. living at home again, not being sure about where my future will end up, how will I ever afford to move out, can I be self-employed forever and live the kind of life I want to live, will I find someone who can put up with me and my obsession with musical soundtracks? these are all questions I ask myself on a regular basis, that I didn't worry about when I was in a relationship. but worrying about them doesn't make them go away, or give me an answer. so, very, very slowly, I'm learning to let go and not worry about them. not quite a 'whatever will be, will be' attitude, as I do believe you are in control of your own life - if I didn't work hard and push things for Ladybird Likes, they wouldn't just 'happen' as if by magic - but I can't predict the future, I can only make the most of what I have right now.
I don't know if this post will be of help to anyone else, but it feels good writing it down, and marking on this blog in a small way the fact that I'm still here after four years.