This blog post idea has circulated in my head for a while now, and it's been very hard to decide if I actually want to post this.  For a while, I thought of just writing this for myself, since writing is my therapy, but I know there are other people who have had the same feelings as me, so I feel this might be an applicable topic.  Part of the reason I've debated publishing this is because I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea by my opinions.  I don't want anybody to think I'm one of either two extremes: a bitter, man-hater who is completely against dating, or a desperate single.  I hope if you take the time to read this, you understand I am writing this as a reflection of my own experiences and feelings.  I am an optimistic 22-year-old who takes life as it comes and tries to make the best out of all situations.

Between fairytales, Disney princess movies and romantic comedies, girls are taught from a young age that finding Prince Charming is the happily ever after.  Don't get me wrong — I'm a huge fan of those stories, and I'm a cheesy hopeless romantic, so I love that notion.  However, I just think a lot of girls believe this is the only way to find happiness, and it is the end all, be all.  I can't wait to find my "one," but until then, I think it's important to make myself happy and work on developing myself so I am ready whenever I meet my "one."  So many people talk about completing their partner and vice versa, and I agree that possessing qualities your partner doesn't have and vice versa can bring a great balance to the relationship, but I don't feel you should necessarily feel incomplete without that person. I think when each partner is their own person and doesn't get so lost in their partner or the relationship, that makes the relationship so much more dynamic.  You're more interested in the other person, because they are a "whole" person, and you're able to spend time apart, which makes time together that much sweeter.  And heaven forbid if the relationship ends, you're able to stand on your own two legs and continue your life — because you are the writer of your life, not your partner or your relationship.

Now, here is where my story begins: I dated the same guy between the ages of 15 and 21.  This long period of time, combined with starting the relationship at such a young age, automatically had my mind set on getting marrying young and starting a family right away.  Especially in the South, this seems to be the trend, and I'd be lying if I said there wasn't pressure to do this.  I planned to move back to my hometown, find a job in nearby Nashville and settle down.  To me, having a husband and kids is still the ultimate goal and something I will do one day, but I think I've just found out it will happen later than I had expected, and that's totally fine.

When my boyfriend and I broke up, I found myself single for the first time in six years (and my adult life), and it was a confusing and unfamiliar feeling.  There are pros and cons and different emotions that come along with it.  There are definitely hard moments, especially when it's easy to feel like the only single one in the bunch.  I have a core group of five friends at school, two of which are my roommates.  All of them have boyfriends but me.  This makes an interesting dynamic at times, especially when we have game nights and realize the teams can't be split evenly.  I may also be the only girl in the group to go to date parties by herself, but you can't let that stop you from having a good time.  I have a core group of five friends at home.  One has a serious boyfriend, and two are engaged.  My best friend in the whole world, who has been my friend since second grade, is also engaged.  I have already been invited to nine weddings in 2014.  I am so, so happy for all those happy couples, and in no way feel any bitterness toward them, and once again that's the last conclusion I want drawn from this post.  In fact, I love seeing all these couples, because it reminds me true love and healthy relationships do exist.  It seems like I'm just getting to that age where we're finally old enough to have serious relationships and get married, and I know the older I get, the more frequently the engagements and weddings will occur.

True, those circumstances can make me feel a little out of the loop sometimes, but being single has also been a blessing that has allowed me to work on developing myself, as I mentioned early in this post.  Yes, I still absolutely want to get married and have kids, but I think it's great I can work on some of my other dreams that are a bit selfish before that time comes.  I want to move away and become enveloped in my career — not so enveloped that I don't have a personal life, but I am so passionate about public relations and want to be able to work for a great company soaking in all the knowledge I can.  Being single has allowed me to have time to explore my interests and hobbies and learn who I am outside of a relationship.  I feel all these things have prepared me to enter the dating pool again, because I know who I am and what I want and need.

That reminds me to segway to an article I read in Cosmo back in December about the top cliches (along with hurtful stigmas and stereotypes) single women are tired of hearing.  The article explained these cliches only make single women feel worse, but it's what we frequently hear.  I'm all for some advice, but three of these cliches, which are not helpful, really resonated with me.

#1: You're intimidating.  I'm a bubbly girl who always tries to be kind, and I can't imagine hurting anybody on purpose.  How am I intimidating?   It's a punishment for becoming what I've worked so hard for — my own person.  Because I have clearly defined goals and ambitions, that's intimidating.  Like the article said, the right guy won't be intimidated by that.  He will be just as ambitious and goal-oriented as me.

#2: You're too picky.  Some girls are too picky about things that don't matter, such as something extremely shallow about looks or some random hobby or career they always imagined their dream man having.  I'm not picky; I just know what I want and am realistic about it.  I'm not saying a guy has to have all the same goals as me (wow, can you tell how goal-driven I am?), but if he doesn't strive to do anything but be complacent, it's not going to work.  I also have religious and moral beliefs, and if a guy's are nowhere near my own, it's not going to work.  I love my family and friends, and they're extremely important to me.  If a guy doesn't treat them well, or doesn't care about his own family or friends, it's not going to work.  See what I mean?  If a guy's basic values don't somewhat line up with mine, we're not going to get serious, and although I'm not looking to get married tomorrow, there's no use in wasting either of our times and postponing the inevitable.  I'd rather be happy by myself than unhappy with somebody else.

#3: You're not putting yourself out there.  What does that even mean?  If not creating an online dating profile or placing a personal ad qualifies me as "not putting myself out there," then you're right.  My roommate, Lauren, made a good point the other day.  She said, "Maybe it's harder for you to meet guys, because we're all taken, so we're not out looking."  It was a valid point, but I'm not sure how one exactly "puts herself out there" besides publicly declaring, "I am single," which I'm not about to do.  I know you won't meet people if you sit at home all the time, but I 'm also not one to go to a bar in hopes of meeting somebody.  I don't believe I can plan out how to meet somebody.  Hopefully, it just happens when it's supposed to.  Besides, I'm old-fashioned and would rather be pursued than be the one pursuing.

So what exactly is the point of this post?  I realize there may not have been a consistent flow.  It's only because I have so many thoughts running through my head that all fell under the same category.  I want girls my age to know you need to make sure YOU are making yourself happy, whether you are single or in a relationship.  I also think girls should remember to listen to themselves.  We are bombarded with messages that tell us surefire ways how to be happy, how to find love, etc.  It's important to listen to others — especially trusted family and friends who have your best interest at heart — but you know yourself better than them.  Singles ladies, try to find a balance.  At least that's what I'm trying to do.  So many situations in life come with perks and downfalls, and this is no different.  Is it easy to get sad/feel like an annoying third or fifth wheel when you feel like the only single one?  Yes.  Is it nice to make plans only for yourself and not worry about asking somebody else first?  Yes.  I don't believe finding a man is the solution to all of life's problems.  Yes, it is my top dream to become a wife and mom one day, and yes, I will be ecstatic when I find the one.  But I'm also going to be thrilled to celebrate my personal victories that I have accomplished without a man.  And right now, because of the confidence I have in myself and who I am, I know I'm in a good place to meet somebody when the time is right.  But I also know I'm in a position to turn down somebody I know isn't good for me as well.  I don't feel I need somebody and I'm not actively searching, but at the same time, I'm open to it and would be happy if it happened.  Love yourself and love others.  The rest will fall into place.