Young love. One moment you’re setting off at the age of 18 to “find yourself.” The next, you’re caught-up in the glances of handsome blue eyes, an athletic body, and promises of tomorrow. He tells you he loves you and that’s enough. Love conquers all, right? Nobody tells you how hard marriage and kids are. It doesn’t take long to realize that’s not always what dreams are made of.
After my divorce, it became clear that I had made so many poor choices in life. I had married too young. I had fallen too fast. I was utterly addicted to love in an unhealthy way. I believed that the only path to happiness was in the arms of a man. Embarking on life as a single mom was a treacherous journey that I had been ill prepared for. I found it troubling to balance being the breadwinner and nurturer. A simple solution would be to marry again and share the burden with someone else. Right?
I discovered online dating was a simple distraction from the weight of the world. I would garner attention from men, perhaps go on a date here or there, but most of all, it fed my addiction. I would find myself so engrossed in finding “the one” that I had neglected so many other aspects of who I was. I had always wanted to write a book, become a singer, have friends, and take my kids on trips. There were so many things I wanted to be, do, and experience, yet I was stuck on one single thing.
My ex-husband and I had found a good rhythm for co-parenting, and although we had irreconcilable differences, we’d found friendship in our divorce. We had successfully found the silver lining and coexisted happily. I wasn’t happy with that though. I didn’t want to just be single. I wanted to find someone who I could call a life partner, but I failed. Again and again and again.
Through it all, something amazing happened: I decided to go at things differently. I stopped dating. I deleted all my dating apps and profiles. I stopped responding to messages. I stopped looking for my boyfriend everywhere I went. I just stopped. I began to look at life through the lens of positivity, accomplishments, and what made me tick. I sang. I wrote music. I began to write novels, which I later finished and self-published. I started a podcast. I gave my focus to friends and family. I took my children on vacation. I got a promotion at work. I even got a dog. Slowly, my life began to transform. I began to realize my purpose was not to find a boyfriend and be in love, but give value to those around me.
My life became peaceful. Soon I could see I was surrounded by many blessings and friendships. I had beautiful experiences every day. I focused inward to make my heart beat with passion. I was finally finding myself and doing the things that made me happy. I was giving my children the kind of mom they deserved. They say when you stop looking for love, that’s when you find it. I beg to differ. I say when you stop looking for love, that’s when you find yourself.
It all became clear why Jane Austen said she would live by her pen rather than marrying without affection. Because it’s freaking amazing! Find your pen. Live your life. The rest will fall into place.