Day 10: I learned to grill!

Well, check another thing off my “year of single” bucket list: tonight I learned how to grill.

To be fair, I’ve always been able to grill…I’ve just been weirdly (and irrationally) afraid of the part where you have to turn the grill on (you know, fire + gas = not a good idea for me). So I asked my dad to come over and teach me how to do it without blowing up everything in a mile radius.

And I did it! Which shouldn’t be surprising seeing as 99% of the world knows how to operate a grill but I’m not going to lie, I’m feeling pretty dang proud of myself. We made grilled BBQ chicken thighs and zucchini and it was delicious (especially paired with a Corona refresher and my mom’s homemade savory oatmeal!).

But what was even better than actually learning how to grill was getting to spend quality time with my parents which I don’t get to do as often as I’d like. And that made me realize how this whole year of being single could end up being about a lot more than just accomplishing a bunch of cool shit. It’s also going to make me a better daughter, sister, and friend…and that makes my heart so happy.

I’ve always put romantic relationships ahead of any other relationships in my life (including the one with myself obviously) so I’m excited to use the year ahead as an opportunity to refocus on those other relationships. Starting with my parents tonight. And dang, it really feels good.

Day 8: New friends

I’m exhausted today (for literally no reason!) so I’m not going to write much. But I will say I checked off another item on my list today: I made a new friend!

(Hey Emily, I’m sure you’re reading this :)

We’ve been Instagram friends for awhile but finally made it real-life official and this girl is such a freaking sweetheart… so I’m verrrry excited for the start of what’s sure to be a great friendship.

More on all of this later but just wanted to post a quick update before I unplug for the night. Also definitely want to talk about my first weekend as a truly single woman because it was both hard and freeing at the same time.

Time for snacks, books and bed for this girl now though.

Day 7: Cleaning out my closet

Is there anything more satisfying than cleaning out your closet? Short answer: No.

Long answer: As cliche as it sounds, going through everything in my closet and getting rid of anything I no longer wear or that no longer fits or that no longer feels like me was exactly what I needed for a fresh start. So that’s what I spent my Saturday doing.

Goodbye crop tops, goodbye too-short skirts, goodbye everything that attracted the wrong people to me for too long.

And some things I got rid of just because I attached them to painful memories, or things that I don’t necessarily want to be reminded of as I start this new journey. Like the dress I bought for a wedding with my ex or the (very cute) outfit another ex had given me for Christmas.

I’m so excited to replace it all with stuff that I love…not stuff that I think I have to wear so that men think I’m hot. Like more flowy dresses and jumpsuits! (No lie, I had one boyfriend who forbid me from wearing jumpsuits because they “aren’t flattering.” Hence why he is now an ex!)

Not to mention that cleaning and reorganizing are just super cathartic on their own. Especially if you’re blasting T-Swift in the background and wearing no pants :)

Day 6: My first weekend without dating

“What are you doing this weekend?”

My friend asked me that when we were grabbing coffee this morning. And honestly? I had no response. Which really threw me for a loop because usually I’d either 1) be doing something with a boyfriend or 2) be going on a date.

Aka every weekend of my adult life has centered around dating.

Aka I have never ONCE had a weekend where I wasn’t thinking about where I should go or what I should do to find a guy.

And when I realized that, I was like whoa. That is not how I want to be living my life. I’m not going to look back and think wow I’m so glad I spent five years of my life, five years of weekends, going on dates that I usually didn’t really want to go on or getting drunk at bars just to meet people who didn’t even align with my soul.

So this weekend is really the first weekend in many many years where I’m taking back the power. I get to decide what I want to do. And not what I want to do in order to meet someone. But what I actually want to do.

It feels foreign as hell but also incredibly freeing! I haven’t decided exactly what my plans are but isn’t that the beauty of it all? I can finally choose how I spend my time, whether it’s going to yoga or just laying on the couch with a good book.

Side note: I’m also thinking about going to a sound bath for the first time just because I think it sounds so freaking cool and I’ve never gotten around to it because there were always dates to go on or things I should be doing instead (eye roll). But there’s one at a studio near me this weekend and I’m sooooo interested. So stay tuned for that experience!

Day 5: I'm going to Italy!

To say I’m freaking out right now would be a major understatement. That’s because I just booked an 8-day trip to Italy. By. My. Self.

I seriously can’t wipe the smile off my face right now. Because honestly I’m equal parts terrified and excited and I truly think that’s the best feeling in the world. You know the one where you’re going so far out of your comfort zone but in the absolute most amazing way possible?

That’s what this trip is going to be for me. And I can’t fucking wait.

After all, it’s where my favorite book (Eat Pray Love, obviously) begins: eating delicious pizza and exploring the Italian countryside solo. And if it worked for Elizabeth Gilbert, I sure as hell believe it can work for me.

Traveling to Europe (and Italy in particular) is something that’s been on my bucket list forever. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing… but it’s something I always thought I had to do with someone else.

Soooo I’m calling bullshit on that. Of course, if I do end up in a happy relationship or marriage one day, I’m sure I’ll want to explore the world with that person. But until then, who says I can’t do it on my own? Why should I wait around to do the things I want to do (aka waste my life) until I meet someone? Like seriously what kind of sense does that make?

None. Which is why I (very spontaneously) booked this trip tonight. Because enough is enough. At some point, it’s up to me to start living the life I want to live. No one else is going to do it for me. No one else knows what makes my heart happy, what fills my soul. All of that’s on me. And all of that is finally beginning.

And on a much more superficial level, you better believe I’m so freaking excited for all of the pizza, pasta, bread, wine… ugh, for a girl who subsists 95% on carbs, it’s going to be an actual heaven on Earth. Get ready Italy, I’m coming for you!

Day 4: Today I didn't wear mascara

And that’s a big fucking deal.

For a little backstory: I’m the girl who NEVER (and I really do mean NEVER) leaves the house without mascara. I put it on if I’m taking the trash out, I put it on if I’m going to see my grandparents, I put it on at 5 a.m. just to sweat it off in a 6 a.m. yoga class.

I always wear mascara.

Because to be honest, I’m not comfortable without it. I’m not comfortable that someone (maybe even a potential date, gasp!) might see me bare-lashed, might see me looking anything less than perfect. My hair could be a mess, I could be wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt… but if I have mascara, I’m okay.

So the fact that I didn’t wear it at all today? Big. Fucking. Deal.

And yes, I went out in public. Multiple times in fact. And guess what: no one noticed. No one except me.

It’s a really big turning point for me, a really big mind shift. I was getting dressed to go run errands this morning and of course, reached for my tube of mascara. But then I stopped myself: Why was I going to put it on just to take it off when I got home? Who was I trying to impress at Target? And more importantly, if I’m giving up dating for a year, WHY am I trying to impress anyone at all?

So I put it down and walked out the door, naked lashes and all. And as small as it sounds, as silly as it sounds, I have never felt as free as I did in that moment.

Because I was finally giving a (figurative) middle finger to all those pressures and expectations that as a single woman, I’m supposed to look a certain way, that I’m supposed to try harder, that I’m supposed to do everything just to make myself the perfect future girlfriend.

But now that I’ve committed to a year of being single, that weight is no longer there. And dang, it feels good.

P.S. This 100% doesn’t mean I’m “giving up” on myself. Or that I’m going to live in ratty clothes and greasy hair. Of course I’m still going to get dressed up. Of course I’m still going to wear mascara most days. But the point is that I no longer feel like I have to do that… and that’s an incredible feeling.

Day 3: So excited I can't sleep

At 12:45 last night I woke up to pee. Just like I do every night. Except last night was different. Because while I usually fall right back asleep, last night I almost couldn’t (spoiler alert: eventually I did).

But for almost an hour, I laid in bed wide awake. And it wasn’t because I was sad or hot or worried or stressed—it was actually the opposite. It was because I was so freaking excited.

Excited for the year ahead. Excited for all of the things I want to do. Excited for finally coming into my own, for finally putting myself first and saying fuck what anyone else thinks.

I was literally so excited about life that I couldn’t sleep…

That’s amazing. Seriously. That hasn’t happened since I was like 8 years old and excited to go on vacation. But as an adult? Sleeplessness is basically because of work or because of stress. Not pure excitement about life.

So while I woke up really tired this morning, I also woke up really hopeful. I truly believe the next 363 days are going to completely change my life, completely change who I am (for the better!), completely change what I want and what I ultimately end up getting.

It inspired me to make a list of all of the things I want to do in the next year because there are SO many. A single girl bucket list, if you will. Like take a solo trip to Europe, join a book club, and learn to make bagels. (The full—but constantly-being-updated—list is here.)

And yes, I recognize that these are all things I could do with a partner. And yes, I recognize that I didn’t have to take a vow of singledom just to fucking learn how to make bagels. But in my heart, I know this is what I need to do. I need to do it all for me. And to be honest, that’s all that matters at this point.

P.S. Back to the whole trip to Europe thing: I literally was thisclose to buying tickets to Italy last night. Keep in mind that 1) I’ve never been out of the country and 2) I’ve never gone on a vacation by myself! Like who am I?! But I really almost hit “buy” spontaneously. And while I’m going to wait a few days/weeks before I do book it (I think), the realization that I can do stuff like that now was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a very long time.

And on that topic… for people who have traveled overseas, help a girl out: Italy or Ireland or France in the fall?

Day 2: It gets worse before it gets better

No, this blog is not going to be a sob story of me trying to get over a breakup. But yes, I’m going to talk about said breakup. Especially since it just happened, oh, TWO DAYS AGO.

And what I’m going to say is this: It gets worse before it gets better.

The first day, while I was obviously upset, was also strangely freeing in a way. I listened to a lot of Beyonce and Taylor Swift, spent time with my mama, and boldly decided I was going to give up dating for a year. I honestly felt unstoppable.

And by unstoppable, I mean in denial. I felt fine because, well, I didn’t let myself feel anything at all.

But it all caught up to me today. Just like it always does. Just like I knew it would.

Because it isn’t the first day after a breakup that’s the hardest. It’s the second.

It’s the day when you go back to work and you realize life goes on as normal… without him. It’s the day you hear his favorite song on the radio… without him. It’s the day you wonder how you’ll ever feel normal again… without him.

That was my day today. Yes, I know the breakup was for the best and yes, I know I’ll be okay. But to be honest, in the slow moments, in the moments when my mind isn’t preoccupied with something else, in the moments when I’m alone with my thoughts, I miss him. More than I should. More than I expected to.

So it’s hard. I’m not going to pretend that I feel okay today. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have my doubts about all of this.

However, I do know that I’ll get through this. I always do. And I know that the next year is going to be more fulfilling, more beautiful, and more life-changing than any year that came before it. And while it hurts right now, it won’t be forever.

That’s what I keep reminding myself. That’s what is getting me through. That no matter how hard it is today, I have so much more and so many more better things ahead of me. I have to believe that.

Day 1: One year, no dates

“I’m giving up dating for an entire year.”

That’s what I told my mom this morning on our walk.

“A whole year. No dates. No relationships. Nothing.”

She rolled her eyes, of course, reminding me that this isn’t the first time I’ve said that. And that’s true—this is not the first time I’ve said that but it is the first time I’ve meant it.

It’s a decision I made this morning when I woke up with the worst emotional hangover (yes, those are a thing). My head felt heavy, my body felt heavy, and most of all, my heart felt heavy. Everything in me felt depleted, felt beaten down. Everything in me felt destroyed.

That’s because last night I went through yet another breakup. Yet another breakup where I was pretty much blindsided. And even worse, yet another breakup where my now-ex-boyfriend ended things via text. TEXT! (Not to go on an angry rant here but come on guys, we aren’t 16 anymore. Have some fucking balls.)

So yeah, as you can imagine, I woke up this morning feeling pretty shitty. And as I tend to do after a breakup, I immediately started blaming myself. What the fuck is wrong with me? Why do my relationships never work? Why can’t I seem to find the right guy? What. The. Fuck. Is. Wrong. With. Me?

But then I Googled “30 and single” (I’m 27, FYI, but in my post-breakup depression, that’s basically 30 which is basically a 90-year-old spinster). And an article by Shani Silver popped up… and I’m not even being my normal dramatic self when I say it changed my life.

More specifically, one paragraph changed my life:

Maybe, instead, we should spend more time talking to single women about things that don’t suggest they’re broken? I fully trust that what we want will find its way to us, and that we don’t have to “fix” ourselves first in order to get it. We’re just as valid and worthy as everyone else.”

And with that, I knew what I had to do—I had to give up dating. I had to stop looking for someone. I had to, above all, stop trying to “fix” my singleness.

There’s so much I want to do and so much I need to work on in myself before I’m ready for “the one.” I know this. I always have. But I’ve always turned to dating, to relationships, to men to make me feel validated. To be my figurative Band-aids.

So for the next year, I’m giving it all up. And that’s what I’ll be documenting on the blog every day: the ups and (what I’m sure will be many) downs of a year of being a single. A year where I’ll stop focusing on men and start focusing on me. A year where I’ll create the life I’ve always wanted to have and become the me I’ve always wanted to be.

And yes Mom, this time I’m really doing it.