I’ve been noticing an increasing number of a very particular type of blog post blowing up on Facebook lately. Meet the author—an empowered single woman in her early twenties, making a statement about relationships. Girl, I hear ya. There are enough pictures of bouquets of flowers, home-cooked meals for two, and engagement rings on my Facebook and Instagram feeds as of late that I’ve pretty much considered locking myself into a room with nothing but my cat, a bottle of Pinot and an Adele playlist until further notice. #foreveralone #singleasfuck #selfpitycentral.
Don’t stop reading just yet. That is not where I’m going with this at all, I promise. See, the thing is, that kind of single talk is equally as annoying as relationship-grams. I may fall into the category of a single early-twenties girl, even a little empowered, I’ll admit, but this is not a relationships-bashing blog with a side of jaded self-deprecation. Hear me out.
The thing about these aforementioned blog posts is that they seem to say that a woman cannot be in a relationship and fully experience her early twenties—A claim which seems to insinuate that there is a right or a wrong way to be when you are 23. If someone is actually an authority on this matter, I would very much like to meet her, but until I do, I’m going to go ahead and say that living your life the correct way in your twenties, or at any age, is incredibly subjective.
Three years into my twenties, the most sense I can make out of my mission, is that now is the time to really get to know myself. It is the perfect time to do some soul searching and figure out the course I want to take my life. And to make those decisions, I need to find out what makes me happy on a day to day basis—I should acknowledge and embrace what fulfills me and rewards me, and what are the things that I need to let go of in order to become the very best version of myself in the future. I am no expert, but I think one’s early twenties are a good time to figure out who you are, what you want, and (generally) where you are going. That said, I don’t think there is a correlation between a woman’s ability to do these things and her relationship status.
Self-discovery and appreciation cannot only be achieved when you are single. In many ways, a romantic relationship has a way of defining the course of certain major aspects of one’s life. Personally, I’ve been going it alone for a little while now, and I’ve come to appreciate the process of getting to know myself a bit better, but that isn’t because I’m single. I have so many amazing friends who are in relationships, engaged, and even newly married who are every bit as adventurous and ambitious as I hope to be. My point is, I truly believe that your twenties are for establishing a strong sense of self so key to moving forward and living a good life. If someone loves you along the way, good for you, invite me to the wedding so I can embarrass myself on the dance floor. And if you find yourself single in your early twenties, it doesn’t mean that you’re any less worthy of love, or companionship, or an edible arrangement sent by a hypothetical boyfriend that looks even better through a “Lo-Fi” filter.
The following are a few little things that I’ve found have shed a little light on figuring myself out a bit. I’m a far cry from the portrait of perfection in terms of having my life together, but I like to think these things are helping me be a little kinder to myself, and realize things about myself that I think are important to know moving forward. But, again, everyone is different, so take my opinions and ideas with a grain of salt on your next margarita. Cheers to being 23:
And walk often. Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, let your eyes and your mind wander and resist pulling out your iPhone for a few minutes. Whether you need to blow off steam, mull something over, or just need a change of scenery, a few minutes outside is a great way to get some perspective, above all. Nothing makes you feel so simultaneously small and yet full of possibility than walking down a sidewalk in Manhattan.
2. Do something you’re bad at. And keep doing it.
This has been a big one for me lately (and an easy one, considering I am literally horrible at doing many simple daily tasks that real life requires. See previous posts for mentions of cooking, dating, cleaning etc.) But really, there is nothing more gratifying than accomplishing something that you once thought yourself incapable of, and there is nothing more humbling than checking your ego for a second, relinquishing the control of excelling at something that you are confident in, and simply trying something new. For me, I’ve taken up hobbies that just happen to be physical, like yoga and crossfit, but that definitely isn’t the only route to measure progress and challenge yourself in a healthy environment. But you never know what might start to make sense to you in Warrior Two!
Tearing myself away from the screens of my laptop and iPhone has been so beneficial. Underline your favorite quotes, let yourself be moved, taken in, and returned to your own reality. Getting lost in someone else’s story is good for the soul, I think, and for the ego. Just because you’re getting to know yourself a little better doesn’t mean that you have to overanalyze every aspect of your own ongoing saga 24/7.
4. Ditch the makeup from time to time.
This may not apply to you in any way, but for me, putting on makeup is a part of my daily routine. Deciding to skip it once and a while is not only good for your skin, but it has to be good for the way you see yourself. See, I figure the face I see in the mirror first thing in the morning is who I really am. It is literally me in my most natural state, and if I can’t go confidently about my day as myself, all the eyeliner in the world won’t give me the strength I need to accomplish my goals.
5. Mend a burnt bridge.
Or at least try. Extend an olive branch. If you cared about someone and you wronged them, apologize. Even if it seems like ancient history, accepting responsibility for your actions is, to me, growing up in its most basic form.
Write your story. You’re only 23 once, and whether you’re single, taken, or a cat lady, I feel like you’ll want to remember where you were, what you saw, and who you loved when you were trying to put the pieces of your life into place.