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.


  1. What a great post :) You sound like you've done so much in the past 4 years as well. Well done! x

  2. I'm in a relationship but it always bothers me when people say 'Oh, you're Single.' I don't see anything wrong with it, the relationship I am in now is the only one I've ever been in and we started dating when I was 18, as much as I love it and everything that goes with a relationship, I love/miss many parts of being Single freedoms, not feeling guilty for doing things for yourself, no confinements etc.

    My life has gone down a completly different route than I imagined for myself being in a relationship, I've lost friends, I ended up not going to University like I planned and much more. Some of them I'm happy about but others I know I can only really have if I am Single. So I can see the benefits of both.

    I'm glad that you are doing well though, gained friends, starting your own buisness etc.


  3. I really try to never feel sorry for myself, but that doesn't mean one can't be sad. And I don't even know if I'm single or not.

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  4. Thank you for this, Zoe. I've been needing to hear a bit more of this type of thing, and it's great to have some honesty. I'm single for the first time in 6 years and it's all a bit new and strange, but I'm learning to do things just for 'me' now! Great post xx

  5. I can't thank you enough for this blog post! I split with my boyfriend of 3 years almost 4 months ago and it's been tougher than I ever imagined. I've been in the same position as it's my final year of uni and we broke up the day before my birthday and 4 weeks before my dissertation hand in so it completely messed with my head but I managed to somehow meet the deadline. Coming to terms with not living with someone you used to spend 20 hours a day with 7 days a week is difficult! I've been really really struggling lately but this has really helped, so thank you so much! xx

  6. this is great, thanks for sharing. I think I'm four years single as well. the last point is very true, and I've found you have to have a sort of faith in yourself that you'll work things out in time. aaaand I'm rambling lol.

  7. Hi Zoe,

    I'm coming up to 4 years single myself now and can relate to a lot in this post. It's definitely an experience to go through. Change is hard, and sometimes looking back at how much can change in this amount of time can be scary (my healing process was a long one, i'm probably an entirely different person now compared to then but starting to feel more like myself than ever before at the same time, maybe you can relate?)

    The things you've accomplished are really something to be proud of and the time you've taken to focus on yourself and develop as a person clearly shows (obviously you're a talented lady!) and I think it's a really positive thing for anyone to do.

    Pleasure to read as usual :) x

  8. hello lovely :) loved reading this post, the beginning of last summer I split with my boyfriend of 6 years, and it stripped me back to nothing. When we moved out of our flat my entire world changed and I still think the Millie back then isn't really here anymore. I've changed and sometimes that makes me sad because like you said, not seeing old friends and simply not having HIM in your life everyday hurts. But I think we can be better because of change, my mum told me that some people are only meant to come into our lives for a little while, teach us something and then move on. Although i'm not single anymore, I can relate to what you're saying about all the amazing new people you now have.
    I take my hat off to you for your single status, it shows that you really are complete and a person who is entire, without the need for someone else :) x

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