By Gabby Rente
Valentine’s Day has passed, and as usual some relationships didn’t survive. I’ve seen quite a few of my friends’ relationships come to an end recently and have watched them contemplate jumping immediately back into the dating scene.
Before you re-download Tinder or send a text to your ex, I’m asking you to pause. Just because you’re single now does not mean you have to run out to find the next person to date. Instead, use this time to learn how to love yourself. Here is how I learned to do it.
When my last relationship ended, I was extremely depressed. I was a Resident Assistant in a dorm room by myself on the third floor of Reid, and all my friends lived on the other side of campus in a suite together. I was alone, and I hated it.
But then my mom, after another phone call of me crying, opened my eyes to a fact I had been ignoring. I was alone, and therefore was only responsible for myself. I did not have to answer to anyone else or work around another person’s schedule. I was free to be me.
I had so much time to myself that instead of using it to my advantage, I lamented about not having someone with whom to share it. I had to give myself a reason to look forward to coming back to an empty room.
At first, I spent my free time catching up on netflix shows. I made myself popcorn and binged episodes of “Parks and Rec.” While that was relaxing, it wasn’t exactly fulfilling. I was becoming a hermit, which I learned was not healthy for my personality type.
So I joined Adventure Club. When they had trips off campus, I didn’t try to drag my friends along with me. I went by myself and interacted with the people already there. I fell into a stream, froze my socks off, and had more fun exploring state parks than I could have ever imagined.
Pretty soon, whenever I came back to my small, dark room, I felt only joy. I taught myself songs on the ukulele. I discovered new music and danced in the mirror (don’t knock it before you try it). I picked up crocheting again and made hats and scarves for friends. I curated habits that encouraged personal growth and self-fulfillment.
I also took this time to reflect on what I wanted in a relationship. What traits did I want in a person? What traits would that person might want to date, and did I have those traits? If I wanted to date a 10, then I had to act like a 10.
So I put effort into outfits. Even if it was your typical Tuesday, I dressed up to make myself feel good, not in the hope of catching someone’s eye.
Because of this lifestyle change, I became more confident in myself. People wanted to be around me because I was comfortable in my skin.
After months of being single, and forcing myself to stay single, I eventually met the person I’ve been with for two years this coming Saturday.
I am not saying that by following this advice that you will find your person — I was extremely fortunate — it may take longer for you, and that’s okay.
What I’m saying is that because I was happy on my own, I was able to build a healthy relationship. It is unrealistic to expect happiness to come from another person, because that is not fair to them. Happiness can only — and I’m going to sound like Uncle Iroh — come from within.
If you think I’m full of it and that my advice is absolute garbage, that’s okay too. Do whatever you need to do for yourself, but please ignore the nosy aunts when they ask, “You’re still single? What’s wrong with you?” There is nothing wrong with you. Being single is only a negative condition if you think of it that way, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and start living for yourself.