After I got my first serious girlfriend in college, I identified as a “relationship guy”.
I experienced a lot of discomfort with myself growing up and nothing made me quite as sick as having to take a hard look in the mirror.
Because of this reality, I dodged every opportunity to do a deep scrub of my identity and understand why I am the way I am. I was completely resigned and stuck in cruise control — never taking a breath to stop and consider what I really wanted for myself.
I had some strong suits going for me, but making myself happy sure wasn’t one of them.
I chalked it up to heredity, as my father had battled anger and depression throughout his life. Sometimes I used humor to bail me out, making a joke out of everything I possibly could — no matter how serious.
Nothing seemed to work, and I was tired of the futile attempts.
Once I met Jenny however, I experienced something different.
My job was now to make her happy, instead of myself happy.
“I can get into this,” I told myself.
I was finally off the hook, and I loved it. I got to shove that annoying necessity called self-love into a dark storage closet in my mind, never to be opened again.
What ensued thereafter however, was an exacerbated version of it.
Without a respectable level of self-awareness and regard for my emotional well-being, my ego stepped in its place.
I sabotaged my relationship with Jenny in lieu of attention I was getting externally. I couldn’t see what I had in front of me because my experience was filtered by a self-enhancing, wildly insecure view — as opposed to something real and authentic.
I flat-out missed all the love, care, and honor she showed for me. The next girl, same result. And the next girl, you guessed it, the same result.
The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.
When I finally bet my final poker chip (and lost), I couldn’t ignore what I did when I was a boy.
I couldn’t ignore that I was the common denominator.
I couldn’t ignore that no one else could make me happy unless I did first.
My mom would always share with me the famous Abraham Lincoln quote,
“You’re only as happy as you make up your mind to be.”
To which I would regularly respond with a roll of the eyes.
But this time, it persisted. I began looking closer at the quote and I started to really get the impact.
My unhappiness was a result of a lack of commitment. I was resigned. I wouldn’t pick a side. I’d straddle the fence. What I needed to do was make a decision to be happy.
The word decide comes from the word Latin decidere, which is composed from de- (off) and caedere (cut).
In other words, when you decide something, you cut off the alternative.
My alternative was my ego. My self-loathing. My insecurity. My deteriorating self-worth.
The other option was my authentic self. The one my parents created. The one I lived out as a child until I allowed someone else to convince me it wasn’t good enough.
While this seemed scarier, more risky, and less sure, it still felt better.
I wasn’t putting on a show for anyone. And it wasn’t even that I wasn’t putting on a show to spite anyone, either. I was just being me.
Perfectly, imperfect me.
Not a me that lives for others’ opinions but also not a me that blatantly disregards them just to feel more secure in himself.
A me that chooses freely to care for others, unyielding of the love I show for them. A me that doesn’t acknowledge what the suppressed status quo of human connection calls for. A me that just lives — for others and for himself.
That me is nothing but love. And I’ve finally allowed him to be free.
I’ve cleaned out all the closets so I now can allow anyone in my house — without the presence of resistance or concealment.
The empowerment I feel by owning my authentic self and living a life of truth has me genuinely excited — for what I may be able to create with the next person that comes my way or for what impact I may make on the world.
However it happens, it’s perfect. It may not be exactly how I want it to happen, but it will be how it’s meant to happen.
And regardless of society’s interpretations, pressure from friends and family, or that constantly chirping ego of mine, I’m okay with it.
As a matter of fact, I’m happy with it.
And I’m single.
There ya go.