I don’t know about you but in my younger years I thought I knew everything there was to know about love and relationships. I knew what I wanted and I thought I could make it happen because of my own striving.
When I look back to my twenties, I’m equally embarrassed and humbled at all the lessons I have had to learn over my life (some easier or more difficult than others!).
As an aspiring writer, I like to read lots of different types of blogs. From fashion to natural living, spirituality, and lifestyle blogs, I just eat them up. One type of blog post I see with some amount of regularity, are posts where the author gives advice to their younger, single self.
I am always drawn to those types of blog posts. Even if I disagree with the writer, I find the varied perspectives and experiences of people fascinating.
At the end of the day, hindsight is 20/20. Ideally, hopefully we all learn from our mistakes or past experiences. If I could go back and tell my single self how to take advantage of that time, here are some (of the many!) things I would say to my younger Patty self:
I wish I went to counseling sooner
Each of us come with our own set of baggage and wounds. On some level, I think all of us could benefit with a little counseling over the journey of life.
I went to counseling off and on for generalized anxiety a bit during high school and college. But I never felt like I was growing as a person or learning tools for my emotional health and wellness. When problems began to disrupt my marriage, I went into counseling like it was a second job.
Slowly, I began to realize all the things I never dealt with before getting married. I began to do the deep soul work I never saw or thought I needed.
Guess what happened? My life was radically transformed. I am not the same woman I was five or six years ago. While my “Patty-ness” is still the same, I have and continue to become a more whole, healed version of myself.
Don’t put off getting help if you need it. You’re worth the time and effort!
I wish I learned to love myself more
From the time I was a young little girl in junior high I have not felt comfortable or at home in my physical body. I did not love myself very well. Thinking back, I can remember constantly thinking I wished I was like all the other girls around me. I wished I was prettier, more popular, thinner, or the type boys danced with at the school dance or flirted with at the roller skating party.
The lies I absorbed and picked up about my worth and physical body were harmful in more ways than one. There was so much toxicity I believed about myself that was just not true. As I went to counseling and began to work through my past wounds, I began to see myself differently.
One of the many tools that helped me was praying daily (often many times a day!): “Jesus help me to see and love myself the way that you do.”
I wish I went on more dates
I had a skewed view towards dating in many ways, perhaps a bit too scrupulous.
Looking back I wish I went on more dates, and I think single Catholics should go on lots of dates before settling down in a serious relationship. Why?
Going on lots of dates helps you practice the fine (and sometimes tricky) art of dating well. Dating helps you fine tune what you are looking for in a partner and what are the things you cannot stand or most important qualities you’re looking for in a man or woman.
Going on more dates helps you get to know yourself better, understand your own thoughts and desires while practicing trusting your instincts.
Go on lots of dates. Be open, show up for your life, and allow yourself to be surprised.
I wish I didn’t look for a husband to fulfill me
One of the biggest lies I swallowed up as an insecure twenty something was the myth that finding a good Catholic husband would fulfill me. I was married at twenty-six. By the time I was thirty-one, I was divorced, annulled, and slowly ready to dip my toes back into the dating world with a brand-new perspective.
Before I got married, I thought the “right” Catholic man would fulfill or complete what was lacking in me. The areas I did not love myself I thought could be filled by the love of a husband. I wanted to be loved so badly and thought a husband would help me love myself better.
False. That never works.It has been nine years since I clung to that lie. Now, I’m so grateful I let it go and threw it out.
Don’t look for or marry someone because they fulfill or complete you. Your own beautiful life should be full or rich without a significant other, so that when you meet the right person someday they are more like an enhancement, a sweet surprise.
Relationships should not be what fulfill us this side of Heaven, but deep down we hopefully know that Jesus is the only one that truly satisfies.
I am not an expert in many areas, but I do know the advice I would give my single self would be very different from what I used to believe.
Are there certain things you wish you had done differently when you were single?
What have you learned through those experiences?