Okay, first let me preface with the other side of this perspective because there certainly is one.
Being in a long-term relationship or being married in your twenties is also a power move. In fact, going through your twenties with your significant other can actually contribute a vast amount of strength to your relationship, if you both choose to put in the personal work and then work to grow together as opposed to growing apart. Because let’s be honest, the twenties are rough! Anytime you ask someone about their twenties they tend to do a deep sigh, a sideways glance, an eye roll, delirious laughter…..it’s a mix of emotion for sure. Many states that they are relieved that they’ve made it through and ironically grateful for having been through it.
The twenties have proved to be an extremely tumultuous, but equally transformative time. It’s the phase of life where you are adjusting to your new-found freedom as a young adult. You’re most likely settling into a career, thinking about future plans, deciding where you want to live, etc. Adulting is in full swing. With all these choices, there is also the importance of truly knowing yourself— your wants, needs, passions, happiness essentials. These foundational life decisions rely heavily on your ability to own who you are and what you want/deserve out of life.
With that being said, here’s why some solo time in your twenties can be truly powerful in setting that groundwork. Having spent my whole twenties (yup, 21-29) single, I can share with you what I’ve learned and why I’m grateful that I’ve been given this time.
Yes, I have some really amazing friends and family that have been by my side for years, with their guidance, love, support, and advice. These relationships are incredibly appreciated and have definitely helped me to make certain moves within my life. However, these relationships are different than that of an intimate, personal deeper connection you share with a significant other. At the end of the day, you have to depend on yourself and your own decision making to know where you are headed next.
While the advice is helpful, you don’t have that scapegoat of pressure that can sometimes occur in relationships. The projection or sharing of personal burdens tend to surface. When you’re single, you are forced to take full responsibility for your decisions. Sometimes you make the right one and sometimes you don’t. In either case, doing this alone aids in giving you more confidence in yourself and your ability to make the right decisions via trial and error on what is best for you and knowing that you can advocate for yourself in that way.
You’ve probably seen those memes floating around stating that self-love is more than just taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, or buying flowers. It requires a whole lot more than that because true love for yourself includes embracing both your dark and light sides. Making peace with your past faults as not to continue with them in the future, loving your body for all it is and does for you, discovering what triggers you and working to heal your insecurities. These elements of self-love can be extremely heavy and challenging to work through, but unbelievably transformative once you do.
Sometimes when we are in relationships it becomes all too accessible to seek that validation from our partners. We fill those voids and insecurities with their love for us, which while valuable, can give us a false sense of self-love. By doing this we don’t truly come to terms with our own love and as a result, may not be giving the best of ourselves to our partners either. It’s vital to be able to put in this work for yourself, to have the ability to claim love and happiness all on your own. When you can get to that place, you radiate love from within and all other love is a supplementary, beautiful addition to that love you already possess and that can never be taken away from you.
Let me tell you, I used to be that girl back in my teens that hardly spoke. I would go to restaurants and it would be painful to order my own meal. Often times, I would have my friends order first and then just say “same” when it came my time to order. I had such crippling social anxiety…. which if you know me now, you probably find that hard to believe.
Looking back at my relationships in my younger years, I see now how I would gloss over my true wants and needs with my partner’s visions, without even realizing it. Simply, because I hadn’t let my own voice form yet enough for me to know what I wanted. I look back now and am just thankful that things didn’t turn out the way I once wanted them to, because it wouldn’t have been authentic to me. Confidence is incredibly important to form for yourself so that you can be sure you are always following your own values, despite whatever life paths and relationships you choose to pursue.
Personally, I did a lot of work on this in my early twenties. Me, the girl who couldn’t order her own dinner, started going on one solo date a week. Dinner by myself, a new workout class, or even just new experiences (one of my favorites being learning how to fly a helicopter and traveling to Thailand for a personal retreat). The more I did by myself, the more I was able to conquer my fears and branch out, helping to accelerate other areas of my life, too.
Passions & Careers
From the start of my twenties to now, I’ve seen myself grow time and time again in this area. I’ve spent the majority of this decade being multi-passionate and pursuing new fields. All of which have served me and put me in scenarios where I’ve been able to learn more about myself and network with different communities, bringing me to my deeper calling. I’m grateful for these transitional periods happening solo because I didn’t feel that added pressure of meeting anyone else’s expectations or needing my lifestyle to mold and fit someone else’s, which can often happen when you are sharing a life with someone. While it’s certainly possible in healthy relationships with two mutually supporting partners, it definitely adds an element of challenge. So I am grateful for this time to be able to discover new things without affecting someone else’s lifestyle so that I can authentically and fearlessly dive into my new passions.
I could ramble on much more about this topic, but those are the key points I wanted to share. I hope this article serves to help those feeling the pressures of not being in a long-term relationship or marriage yet to see how they are actually in one of the most important relationships of their lifetime— the one with themselves. I hope this article serves everyone, single or not, to take the needed time for themselves to grow into their own power without hesitation. Embrace the journey, for it’s a short and beautiful one! Xo