Now that we're nearing the end of another year, I tend to reflect on what I've done and learned these last 12 months. And I'm happy to report that this was a good year for me, despite some bumps in the road, but that's to be expected.
This year I took a much-needed break from the relationship world. Sure, I went on dates and tried to pursue a couple leads, but I never held the title of "girlfriend" this year. I can't stress enough how valuable this was. My distance away from being in a relationship really allowed me to find out more on what I want/don't want.
For starters, I don't want to become a pod person/sell-out the minute I get into a relationship. This was the mistake I made 2 years ago, and it wasn't until this year that I finally cut all ties and moved on. Now I see how close I was to abandoning my goals/dreams simply for the sake of a guy. When I met that person, I was one smitten kitten. I hadn't felt that way about someone in a really long time, so I got very caught up in all of the excitement. I didn't always live in the present in that relationship - all I did was envision our future: getting engaged, moving in together, having kids, vacations, cooking. I would tell friends that if he were to propose at any minute, even with a piece of string instead of a ring, I'd say yes in a heartbeat.
Seriously?? I was 23 years old...why did I ever think I was ready to get married? My theory is that this was my first truly adult relationship to where I was old enough to be with someone where a future together wasn't virtually impossible (i.e. not a high school/college relationship). We were grown ups, which meant we could do true grown-up things like get married and play house together. It saddens me to think how I quickly neglected thinking about my career and education goals, all because I was falling for someone who made my Susie Homemaker gene kick in.
For the record, this was not his doing in the slightest. Trust me, I wouldn't date an archaic ogre that expected me to cook/clean/pop out 10 kids/serve him in every way, every day. This whole idea of settling down was my thing, and I really don't know where it came from. My family raised me to be independent and to stand on my own 2 feet (I can hear my dad's voice reverberating in my head right now with those words). My parents are not the type to cajole me into popping out their grandkids ASAP. I was raised to concentrate on my education, career and hobbies. So why the hell was I so quick to become a Stepford wife? I really don't know, but I'm sure it has to do with societal influences. I blame rom coms.
So next time I get goo-goo-ga-ga over someone, I'd really like to not forget the things I want for myself in this life. Because let's face it - this decade is the only time I'll get to do things just for me, without having to take into consideration anyone else. I'd like to be as selfish as I can while my youth is still intact.
Another thing I learned this year is that all of the qualities I like about the opposite sex don't really matter. Yes, we all want someone who is honest, reliable, funny, family-oriented, employed, responsible, cute. But honestly, one crucial quality trumps all of those things - and that is the quality of appreciating me. I spent the better part of this year pining away over a friend of mine, trying to force something that just wasn't going to happen. I'm happy to report that I finally came to my senses and can now appreciate the friendship we have. I no longer am trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and it feels nice. I can just enjoy someone's company without those sleepless nights and pathetic emo playlists making me wonder, "Why doesn't he like me?" For once, I don't care if anyone likes me.
I don't want to have to force anyone to be with me. I want - hell, I deserve - to be with someone who thinks, "Wow, I'm with Tracy. I'm so incredibly lucky." I mean, I don't need to be on any sort of a pedestal or anything, but some cherishing would be nice. I can't think of a time when I was actually with someone that felt the same way back. Thankfully, my lack of romance as of late has allowed me to realize that I feel pretty good about just loving myself! I'm OK with being on my own; in fact, I actually like it a lot. I'm not closed off to the idea of dating someone, but I'm not heartbroken if it's not happening right now.
I think 2011 is going to be another good year. I'm feeling more confident than ever about myself, even if there are those times when I find myself wandering around aimlessly and feeling like I've lost my direction. As long as I have a general idea of where I'm headed, I know I'll be fine. And I also can't forget the most important thing - NO settling!
I'll leave this with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite shows: "Some people are settling down, some people are settling, and some refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies."