That title again: no one has asked me out for five years. (The trick is to act like this was a conscious choice and not a horrifying discovery. Better to be ascetic than pathetic!)
As I hinted at in my Valentine’s Day post, I suffer from a pretty chronic case of datelessness.
After a fairly successful three years of high school dating, my longest teenage relationship fell apart a week before my senior year. I was devastated, and my heart was broken. When I think back to that August, my seventeen-year-old, 110-pound, cross-country-star self curled up on my pink bedroom rug, sobbing inconsolably, clutching the cell phone that had told me it was over, I just want to time travel and hug myself and tell myself to cheer up because I was so skinny! Seriously, being skinny did help me feel better eventually. But, so did empty carbs, leading to a lifestyle of chubbiness that I dwell in yet today. But, I digress.
So, my senior year of high school, I felt pretty lonely and sad. I was already wondering if I would ever meet a guy who really loved me, brought out the best in me, and had fun with me. But, that magical word, ringing out like a fanfare of hope, kept my eyes fixated on the romantic magnificence of the future and took my mind off the dull disappointment of the present: college. Drawing ever-closer, college was that glimmering promise that things would get better and my dreams would come true. There was no question in my mind that my future husband was preparing for his freshman year at the same college I was preparing myself for, or maybe he was already enjoying the fun and freedom of college life, hanging out in his dorm all but waiting for me to arrive. I took it as a given that everything would happen for me in that department; it would just fall right into place.
It did not. I might as well have rolled around in maple syrup and garbage my first day on campus and started speaking only in Pig Latin for all the male attention I received. I did not have a single boyfriend or get asked out on a single date all 3.5 years of college. The closest I got was a gentle rejection. Yep, you read that right: that was the CLOSEST I got. (Don’t worry, though, in retrospect I realize that that situation turned out for the best.)
That disappointment occurred second semester of sophomore year, and after that, I more or less admitted defeat and realized that the dream of love was really just a delusion. What happened?! If someone had told me in 2011 that I would be sitting here in 2015, a college graduate who not only lacks a fiancé but also has a five-year gap in her dating resume, I’d stand up and punch them out, ‘cause they’re all wrong. (Yes, that’s a modified P!nk lyric.) Of course my main objective in coming to college was to receive a top-notch education and to let my intellect flourish, but I also jokingly-in-my-phrasing-but-seriously-in-my-intended-meaning let people know I came to college to get my MRS degree.
Full disclosure, I actually did not thoroughly know the meaning behind an MRS degree. (Although, even if I did, I probably would have said it anyway – until like a year ago, I really enjoyed lying just for a shock factor; literally, just to dumbfound people. Yes, I have left a trail of dishonesty and incredulity in my wake. I am proud of it, but those days are behind me now.) I knew I would technically be getting my MS degree because I don’t want to change my last name if I get married, but that sounds like something having to do with multiple sclerosis, so the misnomer was A-OK with me. But, I thought it was otherwise accurate because it just meant that you want to get an education and a long term lover. Like, that you want to do both. I didn’t think that was crazy. Like, look at me, I have a 4.0 AND a 9.5, if you know what I’m sayin’. Apparently though, it actually is a very sexist and outdated term meant to demean the educational abilities and vocational aspirations of women everywhere. Don’t you hate that, when you believe the best of some phrase and then it turns out to be oppressive? When will we be in a place as a society where we can safely assume that commonly heard figures of speech aren’t pejorative?
Ugh, anyway, here’s the part where I let you know that there’s nothing wrong with me. I hate that I feel self-conscious about wondering if people are wondering what’s wrong with me, mainly because when they find out how long I’ve been single, they probably ARE wondering what’s wrong with me. Besides like, being your standard-issue flawed human being, though, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’m a total catch. I’m smart, funny, interesting, and pretty. I have hobbies and I like to do fun things. I’m a very kind and moral person. I love making out and I have a cute butt. I’m super dateable. I could absolutely take this time to blame the oeuvre of the college I chose to attend for my single streak – like, I REALLY could, you have no idea – but I won’t. I’m not going to take the stance that I’m too good to date any of the hundreds of dudes around me or claim that I’m a victim of my environment. I just have yet to fall in love.
I know now, though, that being single these past few years, despite the fact that it was contrary to all my most deeply-held wishes, has been the best thing ever for me. Sure, I get lonely sometimes (I’ll help you out here, I’m using that as a euphemism for “horny”) or actually most of the time, but I definitely needed to learn about myself, about the qualities that I would value in someone, and about the type of person who would value me. Not to mention, I had to learn how not to want it so bad (“it” meaning a relationship, pervs). I still do want a great dating relationship, and it’s totally fine for me to want that. I am a very affectionate, cuddly person, and it can be hard not having an outlet to fully express those attributes. But, at the same time, we all walk a fine line between two excesses: indifference and desperation. I don’t expect anything good to just fall into my lap, but I’ve stopped being excessively, overtly eager to have the goodies. Coming across as just a smidge more indifferent than you really are is actually a quite powerful weapon against both personal disappointment and scaring others away. You can only force so much. Relinquishing control was a tough lesson I’ve had to take to heart. I think the mere fact that I am pretty embarrassed to recant feelings I had as recently as two years ago speaks volumes about how far I’ve come.
These five years have afforded me the opportunity to do my own thing and develop as an individual. They’ve taught me that I can thrive and be happy without a manly embrace (LOL). I can still feel desirable without being the object of anyone’s desire. Most of all, I’ve learned that all my plans can fall flat, and it’s not the worst thing in the world. Real-life sweetness grows in the cracks of my shattered daydreams.
I’m so grateful for these formative years where I really had to focus on what I want, where I see myself, and what it would look like to live out the reality of me. And, I was able to think through all of these things without having to consider another person’s future as well. I’m very excited for a time in my life when “my future” by default becomes “our future,” but as I’m learning how to be an adult, I actually feel very glad to be going it alone for a bit. With a serious partner or spouse in the mix, two dreams have to be negotiated, and I think that beginning adulthood with those two separate dreams at odds can run the risk of one dream getting lost or forgotten or being forever undiscovered. Don’t get me wrong: I’m beyond happy for my friends who are graduating with fiancés or serious boyfriends. Those relationships are now an integral part of my friends’ dreams, and they get to test the waters of independent life with someone whom they love enough to share their lives by their sides. That’s so beautiful and amazing. What I get to do isn’t worse or better than that; it’s equally and differently great. I get to say yes and take chances and get a fridge to myself and become more of the person I’m on the trajectory to become before I get to start shifting that trajectory to move alongside someone else. I get to be Allison, whatever I want that to mean, and whoever she turns out to be, she’s a total dream girl.
And when some stranger turns out to be a soul mate, I am gonna eat him alive.