Heather and the Happily Ever After

I was feeling nostalgic the other day and went exploring through old videos on YouTube of songs I used to listen to years ago. I came across a song that talked about not needing a man because they were happy being free, doing their own thing, etc… They didn’t need a ring around their finger, so on and so forth. I find this comical, when on the same album majority of their songs are about finding a man and falling in love. Isn’t that the perfect picture of human nature? We are, all of us, walking contradictions. None of the feelings that provoked the writing of these songs are any less legitimate just because one school of thought may be in opposition to another. I think, as women, we want to be independent and self-sufficient because it’s a necessary part of life and it’s also greatly empowering. I think we also want to be loved and taken care of. These are two very real and valid parts of who we are. Furthermore, I don’t think one should be sacrificed on the altar of the other.

The issue is when any one side dominates an individual’s life. I was always a hopeless romantic even before I really understood the concept of love. It was everywhere and in everything. Movies, music, human behavior, etc… All I had to do was step outside my door and it was there. In every kiss, intertwined hand, hug, etc… I was conditioned from my early years to desire love and relationships. Now, there are all kinds of love. The love between a parent and a child, between siblings and friends; but the one kind of love that everyone seemed to be inspired by and clamoring for was the romantic kind.

I was raised by a single mother, so I knew the instability of romantic relationships, yet I still held onto a lot of my naïve sentiments. My mother was also very strong-willed and independent. She taught her children to be the same way. She never told us what out lives were ideally supposed to look like. She never discouraged our dreams, but she also never encouraged them with much beyond a few words. To be plain, she was pretty hands off when it came to guiding us toward a clear path. I was left to look to media and my church family for direction. I think you can tell where this is going. Love. Love was the ultimate goal, the thing to aspire toward, to grab a hold of.

I spent twenty-eight years working toward this goal. After I got saved I talked to married couples, gleaned from experienced woman, read books, listened to sermons, etc… I was preparing myself for my husband. I was confronting my baggage, so that I could have a clean slate in my marriage. I had never worked harder at anything in my entire life. Meanwhile, everything else was put on the back burner, left to simmer and ultimately grow cold.

As I got older and relationships came and went with no wedding ring, no blissfully ever after I became disillusioned, angry, bitter and depressed. I came to realize that I was trying to control the one thing that is uncontrollable and letting die all the things that could have made me happy in the here and now. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I knew I had to come to terms that my focus had been wrong all these years. Don’t misunderstand, this is not about not wanting to be married or find love. This is about having more going on in your life that makes you happy and fulfilled than marriage.

Now, I don’t regret all the growing and learning I went through for marriage because it made me the person I am today. Someone who is whole and happy on her own. However, I do regret that I didn’t focus on my dreams, in terms of my career, sooner. Now, regret is a wasted emotion, so rather than wallow in self-pity I went back to school. It’s true, I will be thirty when I graduate, but I will finally be on the path I always wanted. The one that was overshadowed and placed on the back burner because I thought I had time, that what I was currently doing was more important. The truth is that I may still be single when graduation day comes. I can’t allow my happiness to be entirely dependent on the “one day prince charming will come”; and if I am not doing anything to better my life now, than I can claim that’s not what I am doing all day long, but it would be a lie. So, I’m active, I’m moving forward and making changes for a happier tomorrow; and I’m proud of me.

I am also ecstatic to see that media has finally seen the light and is following suit, encouraging young girls to pursue their dreams and become trailblazers. Be their own knights in shining armor, rather than sitting around, twiddling their thumbs waiting for one. Maybe this generation will finally be the ones to find the balance between independence and love.

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