A day prior to my birthday, I was drinking cocktails, under the Baja, Mexico starry night laughing with new friends, one of which is a very respectable and famous musician. As I was preparing to leave back to my hotel room -- he said to me in a low, inquisitive voice:
"You know you are a very special lady; beautiful, full of life, smart and funny. How come you are single?"
The question made me cringe.
While most of my friends are getting married and having babies, I was deleting and reinstalling dating apps, questioning myself every day a little more about why I am alone.
What is wrong with me? How come most of my friends found love and I can't seem to come close to it? This letter is for me, but also for you, if you are single and sweating it.
There is something wrong with you.
You tell yourself at night when you look over the destination wedding invite of your 28-year-old friend from college. How come you are older and have no #myotherhalf photos to post on instagram? By now, you may have replaced your fairytale wedding dreams, with nightmares of being 80 and alone, still counting the things that are wrong with you.
Jessica, I am afraid to say, something is wrong with you.
And something is wrong with every single human in this world. We are all broken. If you think those who got away with finding true love have no insecurities, fears, flaws and some drama here and there, you are wrong.
What is "more" wrong with you, is this exact thought: "something is wrong with me." That simple.
Constantly, blaming yourself for being single, and focusing on your flaws will only distance you from your beautiful self, leaving space for low self-esteem, and we all know what men this type of mindset attracts. Not the good ones.
So next time you wonder what is wrong with me, close your eyes, smile and say:
"Something is wrong with me, and many things are beautiful about me."
Illustration by Elle Wildhagen
It takes one bad date to lose faith in dating and two bad dates to lose faith in humanity.
Boring dates, disconnected conversations, guarded people, emotionally unaware men, I feel you, it sucks, really sucks.
What sucks even more is feeling hope that you finally depicted a special connection with that someone, for him to disappear, or for you to lose interest.
"If you think those who got away with finding true love have no insecurities, fears, flaws and some drama here and there, you are wrong."
But here is a choice you have: you can take every date as another data point on why you should drop the ball on relationships, or as a step closer to meeting someone right for you.
And once you go down that path, meeting men becomes about self-exploration. And when you hit a dating fatigue, go soak with your girlfriends, or organize a fun group weekend trip.
But most importantly, do not give up on love for love has not given up on you.
It is true, your married friend with two kids does not have to worry, trying to find out why he never texted her back. She does not have to cry about a nobody, process why he did not invite her to Thanksgiving over and over.
But my dear, aren't the cracks how the light comes in? While you are still getting your heart broken, extract the beauty in it. You will never feel more alive and more human than when your heart is cracked open. Sam Smith, the talented singer who won four Grammy awards, confessed:
"I want to thank the man who this record is about, who I fell in love with last year. Thank you so much for breaking my heart, because you got me four Grammys."
When in pain, pick up a pen and write poetry. Maybe even pick up a brush or a guitar. Embrace the heartbreak for it may carry your next creative breakthrough, or even better: pave the path to your passion, your life's work.
What happened in your late 20s when you had not met the right partner? You may have freaked out, but surely you had two options: you could have put on a settling mindset, and focused on optimizing marriage over compatibility.
But you said no to social norms and didn't settle. Let me remind you: You chose not to settle. You acted brave, and you made it here. Let it be worth it.
True love exists. You have seen it.
You have read about it. You have experienced it with friends and family.
Yes, it gets more difficult as you get older to believe you can have it. Your limiting beliefs sit there, collecting dust, and you fall for them. But it is worth saying no to the beliefs.
Because you will have your great relationship. It might not end up in marriage, but who said marriage is for everyone? Who said entrepreneurship is for everyone? Or college is for everyone?
Optimize for true love, not marriage, not deadlines.
You may ask me, but goddamit what is true love? I don't know. But I know when I settle. I always know. And you do. So let's stop ignoring the voice.
"You do not choose who you love, you do not choose who love you. You do not choose when it happens or how it happens," a quote from your favorite short movie, The God of Love.
Unless your friend is the God of love, do not listen to her 5 tips on how she met the one, and how you will too. Especially when she says: "When you stop looking for it you will find it."
I would like to, or you could too, tell your friend this is bullshit. Relationships are a legitimate desire to have as an adult.
"You chose not to settle. You acted brave, and you made it here. Let it be worth it."
If you wanted another reason to discard the advice, there is a story in the buddhist teaching, where a master tells a monk to not think of monkeys for 3 days and come back. What did the monk do? Thought of monkeys.
Yes, it is ok to want it, to look for it, and to say what you need.
There are no rules in love my dear lady. You may meet her or him in the elevator on a bad hair day, on tinder on a boring Friday night, he could be your best friend, she could be your coworker. It may go slow, you may be married in 3 months. No advice will predict it.
Maybe you have a couple in your life who looks so yummy on social media, that it makes your envy spike? And you start fantasizing of having that same union of mind, spirit, heart.
While comparing is a natural frame of looking at the world, you must remind yourself that it is a source of misery. It is like constantly comparing apples to bananas. No two people have the same ancestors, the same environment of growing up, the same health, the same anything. We are all unique, and so are you. So please quit comparing, and creating unnecessary suffering.
Learn to be a better communicator, through your other relationships, including friendships. Use yourself as a guinea pig to practice acceptance and forgiveness, both essential to lasting love.
Ask yourself why you want it so badly. Understand the craving. And the attachment.
The Buddha told a story of a farmer who lost his cows. He came running to him and his monks asking if they saw his cows. He was really worried. After he left, the Buddha told his monks, you are lucky you do not have any cows.
Look within. And see where is this need coming from. And maybe you can understand yourself better, and let go of the cow.
What you really need is a community that inspires you to not settle. That pushes you to keep going and not give up. That reminds you to get out of your own way when you do. And holds the mirror up to see your beauty in your imperfections.
And remember, you do not owe it to society or anyone to be miserable because you missed a chapter, and instead crafted your own story. Walk with pride Jessica. For you have chosen the path of truth, and you are not alone. And next time someone asks you why you are single now you know the answer:
All illustrations by Elle Wildhagen.
This post originally appeared on Medium.