I know what you’re thinking…
That’s harsh. And rude. And narcissistic.
Let me be clear: I don’t think I’m better than anyone because I’m married, and I don’t know everything, and no, there is nothing wrong with being single…unless you don’t want to be.
Then, everything feels wrong. Couples pass holding hands, and you scoff, but the bones in your hands are aching. Your friend’s engagement ring is glaring at you from across the table, and you want to throw food at her, but you keep cool and smile and listen to her gush. Your news feed is bursting with wedding albums and baby announcements, and you scream inside to make it stop! But you’d never admit if you’re really thinking:
I want that.
That was me. I wanted that. I knew I wanted that since I was in middle school. OK, so maybe I didn’t quite know what that–love–was, yet, but I knew, with time, I would figure it out and then set out to find it. I came really close in high school, really close. But when I found myself at college, I realized just how far away I really was. So I did something different. I took it to the next level.
I made it a goal.
This goal was not to find love. This goal was to find my husband. And so it was born–a goal–not just something I wanted, dreamed about, hoped for. A goal. There’s a difference. I actually remember telling a few friends about it, even some guys (and boy did they run the other way). I may have even written it down somewhere. Anyway, it was real. The few people I told either laughed, didn’t care, or ran for the hills, which was fine, honestly, because it wasn’t their goal: it was mine. To them, it was silly and weird and conceited and farfetched. Again, that was fine because it didn’t feel that way to me. When you make something a goal, it’s more real; it’s concrete; it’s motivating; it’s achievable.
And I don’t like to fail.
I don’t know anyone who does, but it happens–a lot–especially while dating. But there’s something especially irritating about failing at a goal, which is why I decided to take on the challenge. I knew: I wouldn’t let myself fail. And, well, fast forward 4ish years…I was sitting in McCown gymnasium at a small-town, Minnesota university, wearing my black cap and gown, awaiting the retrieval of a well-deserved diploma; yet, that wasn’t the reason why I felt overflowing happiness. Before the ceremony began, an old friend of mine–OK kind of not really…he was my ex-boyfriend’s best friend–noticed me sitting behind him, so he turned around to make small talk, catch up. It wasn’t long before his eyes suddenly grew as bright as the diamond on my finger: “WOAH, congratulations!” he said, and he wasn’t talking about surviving 4 years of college.
I was engaged. I had found the most perfect man.
I achieved my goal.
I can’t deny: it was the hardest, craziest, happiest, saddest, most mentally exhausting 4 years of my life, striving to achieve this goal. But the end result was more than I could ever dream up. And if you don’t want to be single for the rest of your life–if you want that–you should go get it. Make it your goal. It’s possible you might fail, but it’s likely you might not. For me, it worked.
When I made finding my husband a goal, here’s what happened:
- I quit banking on “fate,” got off my lazy butt, and put my best self out there. This is HUGE. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard: I don’t know why I’m still single. I suck at dating. I’ll never get married. Well, 9 times out of 10, these people weren’t even dating! You have to put your big kid undies on and go meet people, period. Yes, you can meet people at a bar (it’s possible); yes, you can meet people in the cereal aisle at the grocery store; yes, you can meet people at church. If you still want to sit on your saggy couch, fine: then at least sign up for online dating (I’ve seen it work). Seriously. Do it. Do something. Anything. Fate has a little to do with it, but you have a LOT to do with it. And when you do start making an effort, present your best self. Don’t mention how you “suck at dating” or throw yourself a pity party (been there, done that). Remember, you’re a major catch. Act like it; it’s attractive.
- I took risks that were out of character for me (aka I got balls). This goes hand-in-hand with #1, in a way, but goes a step further. When you’re determined to find a husband, or wife, you gotta have balls. Take the bull by the horns! Be confident in what you have to offer and heck, make the first move. I added Stuart on Facebook exactly 9 years ago today. I did that. I had never met him and had no idea who he was. I just saw his profile picture was him and his guitar; I love music; he was a sophomore at my college; so boom: request sent. Yes, I was that “creepy” girl, and it was out of character for me to be that forward. But to be honest, I don’t really find that creepy. If someone added me on Facebook based on similar interests, I’d be flattered. At the very least, you gain a friend, or you can look back and laugh about the weirdo you met on the internet. But I ended up marrying Stuart, my random Facebook add, 5 years after our first chat.
- I got hurt. Big time. Listen, achieving such a goal isn’t as simple as adding someone on Facebook. If somehow it is, good for you; you got lucky. After I put myself out there, a lot of…stuff happened in-between. A lot of heartbreak. When finding your husband is a goal, you love hard. You go all in, sometimes with your blinders on, which can make failed relationships really sting. I told myself I’d never go back to someone who cheated on me. Well, I did that, slapped myself across the face twice. I told myself I’d never date someone over an extended period of time who would not call me his girlfriend. Well, I did that too, and it blew up in my face. But do not fear: in these dark, dejected moments, there was a shimmery, silver-lining…
- I gained priceless self understanding. In high school, I was young and naive and thought I knew who I was and exactly what I wanted out of love, but in adulthood I learned that one’s desire for love is ever-evolving. All the risks I took and all the heartbreak I endured in return handed me new pieces of who I am. I learned I was not powerful enough to change the guy who cheats. I learned I was capable of not being someone’s girlfriend and just being that girl who was a friend, but I learned that’s not what I wanted. I explored who I was and what I wanted and found out what I needed. I learned of my impatience, my tenacity, my determination, my creativity, my pessimism, my worth. And once I wholly understood my own worth…
- I reached for the sky. OK so maybe my roommates or my family would beg to differ on this one–I dated some real winners–but the key is that I always found my way out. In my own way, I eventually realized, I was just comfortable on earth when I should be up in the clouds. If you have to tell yourself that he might be right, he’s not. When you know yourself well enough, you can recognize when it’s unrequited love, and you move on. You should know: you deserve undeniable love, and you can have it. Make it your goal.
I have it. After all the risks, all the hurt, all the self-discovery, I reached my husband. People may still find it odd that I made finding my husband a real, tangible goal, but I’m not ashamed of it. It worked. I achieved my goal. And he’s better than what I once thought I wanted. He’s better than the broody Lucas Scott I longed to love from One Tree Hill when I was in middle school. He’s better than the boys I fell so hard for in high school and early college. And that’s all because of all this. I stopped waiting for fate to step in. I stopped being a bum and got some balls and went for it. I fell flat on my face, many times, and I could’ve stayed there, shattered into a million pieces on the ground, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. That wasn’t my goal. The beauty of falling apart more than once is the chance to put yourself back together more than twice. You’re not the same each time. You shouldn’t be. If you are, you’ve failed. And guess what, even after you’re married–if that’s what you want–you still change. You still shatter. The main thing is that you pick up what you’ve learned about yourself and keep going. Each new piece is one step closer to touching the sky.