Whether I am sitting in my office with an individual or with a couple, I have found that people seeking answers to these insightful questions:
Who am I?
What am I supposed to do with my life?
What fulfills me?
How will I know when I've found "the one"?
Who am I now that I've committed myself to another person?
How do I not lose myself in this relationship?
Just because you get married, and just because you become a couples therapist (ha, ha), does not mean you immediately figure out the answers to these questions. I have to admit, working with people around these topics always seems to lead me back to a deeper exploration of myself. It has led me to reflect back on who I was before I ever entered the world of marriage yo-yo-ing ("Holy wow this is awesome...ok wait, give me space...ok wait, come back because I want to do everything with you...ok wait, who am I?! Okay, we're good").
In reflecting on all of this, I decided to have a conversation with my younger, single self as a way to bridge the gap between who I was and who I am today, and to encourage you to do the same. Here's a peek into my internal dialogue:
Dear Single Self,
First of all, you are amazing. Now, I'm not trying to brag on you or anything (we both know I've got a decent level of humbleness), but you really need to hear that. Your love for helping others and wanting to make a difference in this world is going to take you to some really great places I don't think you are expecting.
Even though you've had some great (and really awful) relationships, remember that when they didn't work out or end well, it wasn't just because of you. But...grow. Understand how you could have been better or what you could have done differently. Be accountable and admit when you weren't at your best.
Don't ghost people who care about you- don't just cut people off. Say your piece from a place of love and respect, and go forward knowing you left a healthier mark than you could have. That's being authentic and vulnerable, which you are really going to learn more about later in life.
Understand that whatever happens in your relationships now will only make you stronger and more ready for the relationship you are meant to be in. The one that hasn't happened yet. Now that is something to look forward to.
I know you are going to look at other people for ways to feel validated and good enough. But...don't. You already are enough. You are complete! You have people around you encouraging and telling you this, but for some reason don't completely believe it yet. I know it's hard. But you don't need to fit in with every group everywhere to be okay. You already are.
Liz, do the 5 minute guided meditation. As Shia says, just DO it. Learn how to sit with yourself. Learn how to be with me with nothing else going on. You are going to have to lean into the discomfort of everything you dislike about yourself in order to fully accept yourself. So start now, because the world isn't waiting and you've got some really incredible people coming your way in life.
You aren't going to be single forever. Oh, the irony of how lonely you are feeling at times, and what I would give to have a little more alone time in my life at present. Space is hard to come by in the adult world and in marriage sometimes. I know what you're thinking: How can I even say that!?
Trust in time. Don't just assume that because something hasn't happened yet or someone hasn't entered your life yet that it never will or they won't. They will. If getting married is a goal of yours, you will. If figuring out your dream job is that important to you, you will. You already are. So relax, and don't forget to enjoy the ride of today.
Take chances, and don't be afraid. Trust in yourself. Have experiences, but don't lose yourself in the midst of it all. Stay strong about who you are and where you're headed. Don't let stress and anxiety overrule this important time of your life. You are figuring yourself out and it's messy, scary, but also beautiful. Learn about gratitude, and have more of that in your life. Right now is shaping who you will become.
Keep working on becoming the kind of person you want to be. I promise you, the people meant to be in your life will be crossing your path soon.
Your older, married, and still imperfect Self
What do you want to tell your younger, single self? What would have been helpful to hear? Share in the comments below.
Liz is a couples therapist and relationship expert who specializes in working with millennial couples and individuals in Dallas, TX. Get a free copy of her relationship e-book: The Five Relationship Mistakes You Are Making And What To Do About Them.