The other day I had an interesting conversation with some friends about free will.
We were sipping rosé in a trendy east side wine bar and enjoying our lazy Sunday. Honestly I’m like 99% sure you can’t gossip about pop culture east of Vermont Avenue, so our only option was to start philosophizing about life and all its mysteries. When in Rome!
It went a little something like this: What does it mean to have free will? How does it manifest in our lives? What does it mean to not have free will? Are most things in life pre-determined? Are we just reacting to stimuli subconsciously? Or are we actively making decisions and propelling ourselves along?
(boring boring boring boring boring)
To my delight things got a little…excited, and we maybe, or definitely, disrupted a few patrons’ scrabble games. It ended up being split right down the middle – team free will vs. team pre-determined, but what we all agreed on is how important it was to believe that we have free will. Without the belief, the world would be chaos.
It should be no surprise that I cheered exuberantly for team free will. I think we make decisions every day that steer our lives forwards or backwards. I hope we aren’t simply responding to external stimuli or going through the motions on a daily basis because the ink is already dry. (Poor Hodor!)
Good decisions reap good luck. Or at least that’s how I see it. I guess without that belief, I wouldn’t be very good at my job.
This revelation was quickly followed by a session I had with one of my longtime clients (don’t worry, she knows I’m writing about her!). I don’t typically get philosophical in sessions, that’s not really my personality, but I do like challenging stereotypes and stretching my perspective to see situations differently.
Without going into crazy detail – this particular client is special. Very special. And she’s just now coming to terms with it. Many men in her life have led her to believe otherwise for far too long. So, a year and a half after one of the world’s worst relationships had FINALLY ended, she got her justice.
Yes, it was the form of a text message. Yes, it was eighteen months too late. Yes, it didn’t change the fact that he was still a moron. But still! She finally got to read the long awaited apology she deserved, and it came with way more empathy, understanding, and regret than I could have ever hoped for. It was a victorious moment.
But something was still irking her. Sure, she was totally revamping her life and finally chasing after what SHE wanted (trust me, it’s not an easy transition!). But she still felt like she was falling short in some way.
Then it dawned on her. A light bulb moment. She felt like because she wasn’t in a relationship, her journey wasn’t complete. She hadn’t done enough, pushed enough, or moved forward enough to truly feel like she had overcome her passive past.
I understood why she felt this way, I just didn’t agree that her relationship status had anything to do with her transformation. But how could I explain that to her? What was the underlying reason she wasn’t in a relationship that she should be proud of?
Then, it dawned on me. It was my turn to have a light bulb moment: free will. Being single is a choice!
Before anyone gets offended, this isn’t a tirade about how single women are undesirable or that there must be something wrong with them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve actually only met a few women in my life who I truly believe are single NOT by choice. And they happened to be really, really mean. Like, really mean. Mean people don’t make good life partners, so I figured that was the reason why. But for the other hundreds of single women I have met in the last few years, I have always assumed it was a choice. And I think I’m right.
For every woman out there, I believe this to be true:
If you wanted to be married, you could be.
If you wanted to be engaged, you could be.
If you wanted to be in a relationship, you could be.
Just as if you wanted to be single, you could be.
My client could have easily responded to that text message with open arms. She could have gotten back together with him in an instant. In six months, they could be engaged. In a year, they could be married. And soon after that, they could begin starting a family.
But that’s not what she wanted. She wanted to be treated with respect. She wanted consideration. She wanted accountability. She wanted someone who saw her for who she in the present – not a year and a half later. And I’m betting you do, too.
Your relationship status is in your power.
I know some of you are thinking, “This is absolute bullshit. I really want to be in a relationship and no one wants to be in a relationship with me!”
That’s not true.
I guarantee you that you could be in a relationship with someone. There’s probably someone from your past, a coworker, a classmate, a family friend, or an awkward acquaintance who would be more than happy to be in a relationship with you. Maybe you know this, or maybe you haven’t given them the chance to declare it, but someone would like the opportunity.
The real question isn’t who wants to be in a relationship with you, it’s do you want to be in a relationship with them?
Being in a relationship means that you have found somebody you would rather spend time with more so than hanging out by yourself. And you know what? You’re pretty awesome. You like good TV. You read intriguing books. You eat delicious food. You scroll through interesting things on Facebook. You are a ridiculously hilarious snapchatter. And you hopefully have an inspiring life coach who makes sure your confidence stays sky high.
So honestly, this potential date better be hella exciting to beat all that.
I am very proud that my client is single. I think it shows strength, self confidence, patience, and optimism. If she had prioritized her relationship status over her happiness, she’d be dating some dude who doesn’t value her time, commitment, kindness, or love. She would fall back into old habits. She would stop putting herself first. Instead she’s staying single until she finds someone who supports her positive changes and pushes her to be even better.
We all want to be in a relationship with the right person, because we know that we deserve that. And that takes a lot time for a lot of people. It’s not a sprint. Yes, some people strike it out of the park in high school, and that’s amazing…but most don’t. I didn’t. She didn’t. There’s a reason high school sweethearts are so revered. It’s because it hardly ever happens! It’s an exception! Most wait a while to find the right person because it takes time to get to know yourself, figure out your own life goals, and meet someone who compliments your hard work.
Funny enough (not like “haha” funny but more like eye roll funny) men don’t really have to deal with any of this. The concept of being single doesn’t seem to be an issue. Most people assume men are single by choice. They are “playing the field.” They are “waiting for the right one.” They are “focused on their career.” But not women. Hell, if we used any of those excuses, we would be labeled as sluts, ugly, or bitches. Yay.
Plus, women are mostly responsible for shouldering the blame for our relationship status, even if we are in complete control of it. A woman wanting to be single? The madness! No woman actually WANTS to be single! What else would she do with her time?! Make sandwiches FOR HERSELF?!
*Breathe, Kali. Breathe.*
Honestly it’s fine, because these are typically the same humans who don’t realize “how are you still single, you’re so cute!” is pretty offensive. My go-to line was usually “Yes I am cute and yes I am single and those are not mutually exclusive you butthead.”
I’ll let you come up with your own line.
Or, you can just not let those opinions bother you. Because if you believe in free will like I do, then you know it’s pretty obvious that you could be in a relationship if you wanted to be. All of you could. Instead you are making good decisions for yourself by prioritizing your own happiness before your relationship status. It’s not pathetic or desperate or lame to admit that in a perfect world you would like a companion. That’s human nature. Everyone on this planet would like a parter who just gets them…but not all of us are diligent enough to do the self-work in order to be ready for a relationship like that, or patient enough to wait for it. You are.
Moral of the story? Create space for someone who matters. Let yourself be open to the opportunity of a truly inspiring relationship. Be bold enough to not apologize or be ashamed of dating yourself. You’re pretty amazing. And if you can find someone who tops your “me time,” then so be it. But until then, you are enough.