Love & Relationships – Partners & Patience

I want to preface this post by acknowledging that I wrote this a few months ago when I was feeling really lost and anxious when it came to love and relationships. I was putting a lot pressure on myself to make “progress” in my dating life. I felt like to make “progress” I needed to get into a relationship, or at least get closer to one. But I couldn’t control who I was meeting, and how we felt about each other. Ultimately, I decided to take a little break from dating. During that time I started to realize how much progress I actually had made. In dating the “wrong” people, I learned what I don’t want out of a partner, and, consequently, what I do want. I also learned that I don’t need to sit around waiting for a partner to bring romance into my life.

I decided to share this post now, because while I’m feeling much less angsty about my dating life, a lot of the sentiment still rings true. I have good days and bad days, which usually correspond with good dates and bad dates. Love and relationships is also something back in the forefront of my mind, with Valentines day right around the corner. In the spirit of not sitting and waiting for a partner, I decided to be my own Valentine this year. I bought myself flowers, and chocolate and bought myself gifts. It feels good and empowering to be able to do these things for myself, and it makes me a little less impatient.

I don’t know if there’s anything more profoundly frustrating than being single in your mid-late 20’s. 

Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Sure, there are plenty more objectively aggravating aspects of life, but being single and dating in your 20’s has to be up there. Especially as someone who considers herself a strong, independent woman…and a bit of a hopeless romantic. 

There’s a part of me that’s content with my life. Actually, I am content with my life. I have a great apartment in a fantastic city that I’ve only begun to explore. I have friends nearby that I’m lucky enough to see regularly, and other friends farther away that give me an excuse to travel. I’m healthy and running regularly, and I’m fueling my body right. I have somehow begun to find little joy in each and every day. I have a good life, and I am happy. 

But still, I’m single. 

I have been enjoying going on dates every now and again. Dating hasn’t been high on my priority list, but it’s been fun, and a great way to explore different parts of the city and to try new and different things. I’ve gotten to a point where going on dates is pleasant and not painful. So that’s good, right?

Still, I go through periods where I feel hopeless, like I’ll never meet quite the right person. I think maybe I should be less focused on having fun and more dialed in on finding “Mr. Right.”

I know no of that is true, and that the right person will come into my life at the right time. I also worry that if I do meet someone I like, I’ll lose my sense of self, and I feel that I need more time to define myself on my own terms. Then I think that if I do take the time to work on myself and I become even more independent and self-assured that then no one will want to be with me. But, then again, why I would I want to be with anyone who felt threatened by someone who is secure in themselves. Better to be alone than to be stifled by the patriarchy, right? 

Or is it?

I’m getting to a point where all of my friends are coupling up, if they haven’t already. Some of my closest friends who I leaned on as my “single friends” pre-pandemic have now found themselves in serious relationships. While I am happy for them, I can’t help but feel jealous and impatient, because it feels like it’s never going to happen for me. And not only that, but as my friends couple up around me, there’s an unspoken pressure for me to do the same. 

Maybe it’s ridiculous and I’m just being dramatic (Me? Dramatic?!), but I have moments where I feel self-conscious and guilty for asking some of my coupled friends to hang out. Sometimes I just want a friend to get coffee with, or come over and watch a movie. Those things feel easy to do with my single friends, but when I look at my coupled friends, I see that they have someone to do those things with all the time, especially now that the more established couples are moving in together. Being in a relationship means having an automatic partner for all the little things in life. 

For the most part, I’m content to do things on my own. I’ve reached a point in my self-love journey where I can finally appreciate my own company. I enjoy my Friday morning walks to get coffee while I listen to one of my favorite podcasts. I even find joy in a quiet Saturday night, getting takeout and watching a movie or show I’ve probably seen a thousand times before. (Watching A Cinderella Story and falling asleep on my couch is one of my favorite hobbies).  

Most of the time I don’t even crave a relationship, I just don’t want to always be alone. 

Ultimately, I do want to be able to share my life with someone. I want to share the joy and happiness I find in each day with a partner who does the same in return. And so, as I tip into the latter half of my twenties, I begin to lose patience and wonder if I’ll ever find my person – my partner. 

I’ve seen how wonderful and full life with the right person can be, I’ve seen it happen for my best friend and her college boyfriend, now husband. I wrote a similar post over a year ago when she got engaged, and now I write again as I just attended her wedding. 

I wrote a year ago that I was okay with where I was in my life, that I was happy for my friend being in love and engaged, while also being happy and content with going through life solo. And that was true, and it’s still true. 

What’s changed in the past year is that I’ve begun to crave the kind of companionship my friends have. I spent over a year “working on myself.” I didn’t date, I wasn’t trying to meet anyone. I spent my time doing the things that bring me joy, like running, writing, exploring, taking pictures and videos to capture the little but very important  moments of life. As a result, I have a stronger sense of self and identity, and I’m happier than ever. 

So now I face the fears and frustrations of dating and seeking out a relationship in your 20s. 

The scary part about that is, it means I have to feel things. It means subjecting myself to potentially getting hurt. When I meet someone I connect with, I get my hopes up that this could be something real.

The problem is, I have yet to establish a connection where those feelings are reciprocated. It’s frustrating to put yourself out there, see the potential and hope it turns into something just to have those hopes crushed over and over again. I often leave a situation wishing I never met this person or I didn’t feel the things I do.

I’ve continued to see guys I don’t feel a strong connection or attraction to because it feels safer. I guess the hope is that feelings will develop over time, but in truth, I just don’t want to risk get hurt. 

Then, out of the blue, I’ll meet someone who makes me feel something special, and I rethink things. Sometimes I want to run away when I feel my heart skip a beat when he looks at me, because pursuing feelings like that means risking getting hurt. 

But, at the same time, I’d give anything to feel that way every day. To be inspired by someone. To feel heard by them, understood. To have someone special to share those mundane but beautiful moments with. Someone who sees life through the same beautiful and broken lens that I do. 

So I don’t give up. As frustrating and disappointing as it may be, I won’t give up. I believe in love. I believe that life can be incredibly special when shared with another person. And just because I haven’t met him yet, doesn’t mean he’s not out there. 

So I have patience. I trust in the universe, and I hope that my future partner is out there being patient too. 

Typically I write and share this posts with my friends, with the intention that they will relate. But this time I write because many of my friends don’t relate. Still, I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. If you’re reading this and you relate to the impatience, frustrations, and loneliness of being single in your 20’s, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And if you ever want someone to get a coffee with, I’ll be there, even if it’s just in spirit. 

I think that knowing you’re not alone makes the trials and tribulations of dating in your 20’s a little less painful. Because, at the end of the day, that’s all we really want, isn’t it? Someone who understands us and who we can share and experience life with. So, for now, we’re at least in it together. 

Long Live 2021

I’m not usually one to make a big deal out of New Year’s. I’d rather be up early on New Year’s day than up all night tossing back tequila shots or sipping champagne. New Year’s just isn’t my holiday. Yet this year I felt like I needed to sit down and reflect on 2021. 

This was a transformational year for me. Not in the one big pivotal moment that changed it all kind of way, but in the each day was an opportunity to change my life and took a chance on myself kind of way. 

From the outside, it might look like I made some drastic changes this year. I decided to leave behind my life in San Francisco and moved back to the East Coast permanently. I got my own apartment in a new city, I bought my first car, I started a new job, and I travelled to new places. It sounds like a fun and exciting year, right?

“I said, remember this moment, in the back of my mind”

Long Live by Taylor Swift

It was, but those big moments aren’t what defined my year.

The moments from this year that mean the most to me are the little ones. The walks I took to explore my new neighborhood. My best friend dropping off coffee and pastries to me after that marathon I ran. The drives around town with my sisters where we belted out our favorite Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo lyrics.

This year I built a life I love, a life I am so extremely proud of. Yes, those major life changes were instrumental in getting me here, but the little moments, the ones that often go un-noticed, those were just as foundational and all the more meaningful. 

So that’s really my takeaway from this year – appreciating the little everyday moments,  the ones were no one is watching – that’s what makes life so special. 

Loving Him Was Red (Taylor’s Version)

Heartbreak is a funny thing. It’s not fair. It’s not kind. It’s not predictable. It comes to you in waves, some shallow and manageable, others difficult and devastating. Heartbreak isn’t something easily moved past, many carry it with them for years on end. Sure, the pain eases with time, but, like a once broken bone, sometimes it still aches a little. 

We know going into new romantic situations that we may get our hearts broken, yet many of us still take the risk. For us, the potential of falling in love is worth the risk. Being in love can make it feel like the rest of the world doesn’t matter. It’s an incredible thing to feel seen by someone, to feel like they understand you in a way the rest of the world can’t. 

We never saw it coming

Not trying to fall in love

But we did like children running

The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)

I think that’s why Red (Taylor’s version) hits so hard. Sure, there was the months long build-up to the release, but there’s much more to this album than media hype. It’s the devastating relatability of the lyrics to the ten minute version of All Too Well. It’s the way your hearts sinks when Dylan drops Sadie’s hand in the dinner scene of the short film. It’s the fact that too many of us have been right where Taylor was in 2012 when she wrote these songs and we can feel her heartbreak radiating from the lyrics. 

But it’s also the way we can feel a resurgence in love in the lyrics to Begin Again or Everything Has Changed. It’s the fateful optimism of Message in a Bottle where you can feel the excitement of meeting someone special and the hope that they might just feel the same way. 

These songs validate our feelings – both the broken hearted, and the optimistic and romantic. They make us realize that it’s okay to feel the way we do – to feel like a crumpled up peace of paper lying on floor after a heartbreak, or to feel like starlight dancing with someone we love. Whatever it is we’re going through, her lyrics remind us that we’re not alone.

I find the Red album special because it encompasses a wide range of emotion. For me, I treated Friday November 12th as an emotional “holiday”. I listened to the album and let myself feel my way through the music. I watched the All Too Well short film twice and found myself more emotional each time. I felt the hope, and the heartbreak, and cried as needed. It was, quite simply, cathartic. 

How can a person know everything

At eighteen, but nothing at twenty-two?

Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)

This is why I love Taylor Swift. I find her music, as a whole, to be relatable. Sure, I can’t connect to every lyric is every song, but I think it’s the way she expresses emotion through her lyrics that make her music so intriguing to me. I feel deeply, I over analyze, I romanticize life, and I remember things all too well, and Taylor validates that. 

So, while my experiences might be different, she makes it okay to express the way things make me feel. Ultimately that’s why I started this blog – to write about the way I see the world and express how I feel going through different stages of my life. Taylor Swift remains inspiration for me to do that. I’m not musically inclined so I won’t be writing music anytime soon, but I’ll write these blogs and share them with you in hopes that even a few people can feel validated in what they are going through. 

It’s too hard to pick favorites, but let’s just say I’ve been listening to Babe, Message in a Bottle, and The Very First Night more than the other vault tracks. 😉

What are your favorites?

I used to be a dreamer.

My sister recently pointed out to me that I am a realist. I was taken aback, I’d always thought of myself as more of an optimist. I felt like for most of my life I generally saw the best in people or tried to make the most of bad situations; I was a positive person. It occurred to me, however, that somewhere down the line, that stopped being the case. I stopped seeing the world with a rose-colored tint, and began seeing things for what they were. I used to be a dreamer, but I’m not anymore.

I used to be a dreamer. I fantasized about the future, about what my life would look like, about what the world would be like.

But the world can crush dreamers; reality will eat you up and spit you right out if you’re not careful.

I wasn’t careful. For a long time anyway, I wasn’t careful, and and the world ate me up and spat me right out.

It took a long time, but I picked myself back up. I was shattered, but slowly and surely I began to put the pieces back together. Eventually though, I made the mistake of dreaming again. Then, as history repeats itself, reality took hold, and my dreams were one again nothing but dreams.

I had dream of what my life was going to look like in 2020. It was my year to get my life together. I’d finally picked up the pieces of heartbreak, work burnout, and personal insecurities, and I was piecing myself back together with glue and a careful hand. It seemed to be holding. So I began to dream again, I dreamt that I would once again be whole and functional. My dreams were less crazy than they were before the world broke me down the first few times, but they were still there.

Then, suddenly, the world stopped. Not just for me this time, but for all of us. My fragile pieces hit a brick wall and my cautious dreams came to a sharp halt. I didn’t shatter this time though, not completely anyway. I just new that if I wanted to get past this metaphorical “brick wall” I needed to leave my dreams behind. I couldn’t carry them with me. Not when I was still rebuilding myself to begin with.

So I did it. I climbed over that brick wall. I figured I’d find new dreams on the other side. And sure, there were fantasies there, but the climb left me too weak to pick any of them up. I couldn’t trust that I’d be able to carry them with me. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to deal with the fall out of inevitably having to drop them.

Now my life is changing again. As the world reopens post-pandemic, so do the possibilities for my life. This time however, I’m taking small cautious steps to a goal. Not a dream anymore, a goal. A desired life, but a real one, not a fantasy.

The difference between fantasy and reality is that I see the problems I will face. In a fantasy we don’t think about the downside, the risks. That is why I fell so hard when I came down to reality those first few times. No, now I see the obstacles. This is life, not a dream.

Still, I work towards my goals. Though, at times, I’m not sure how I feel about them. They are as bright and shiny anymore; they don’t look the same as they did when I was a dreamer.

I don’t get excited about things the way I used to because I’m terrified of being disappointed. My fragile state can’t take another blow. There are too many obstacles on the ground that might trip me up. I can’t risk leaving my head up in the clouds for too long, or I might stumble into something greater than I can handle.

It’s not fun to live like this, I don’t really like it, but it’s my reality right now. I’m pushing through, logically assessing situations, and still working towards my goals. Risks scare me. I don’t want to take risks, but sometimes I have to. I have to trust that I’m strong enough to risk dreaming again, even just a little. I have to trust that I can handle a fall and that, worst case, I now know how to put the pieces back together.

Moreover, I have to trust that the risks are worth a fall and that, overall, I’m on the right path. I have to believe that the universe has something amazing planned for me; something greater and more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed.

A Look-back on Life Before the Pandemic

Recently I’ve been thinking about what I want my life to be like once the pandemic ends. It may be just a fantasy for now, but, with vaccines being distributed I sense some hope in the air.

Before the pandemic I thought I was finally getting my life on track. I’d just accepted a new job that I was to start at the end of March. The new office was a short walk from my apartment and promised much better work life balance. I was looking forward to having more time spend with friends and to focus on training for the San Francisco marathon. I had family time on the calendar too – my sister was going to visit me in a few weeks from southern California and my parents and youngest sister had just booked flights out west from Connecticut.

I felt like everything in my life was finally coming together. 

Then, in the matter of days, it all unravelled.

Now, here we are, almost a full year later. We’re used to pandemic life now. Many of us are working from home, barely leave the apartment, and rarely wear anything other than sweatpants. Some are going to work, but they’re wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from co-workers. There are no Friday afternoon happy hours or meeting some friends at the wine bar to complain about how shitty our weeks were. 

The question is, do I really miss that? Do I really miss my life pre-pandemic?

For me, the feelings are complicated. Some weeks are filled with intense nostalgia for times that I never thought I would wish for again. Other weeks I think I’d like my life to stay like this forever. Most of the time though, there’s a balance. So I’m thinking, when life begins again, what will I want back, and what do I want to go without?

If you follow me on Instagram you may already know at least one topic that’s been top of mind – work. I asked on my Instagram story last week whether or not people were looking forward to going back into the office….eventually. The responses were, unsurprisingly, divided.

I also asked people to share their why– why they were or weren’t looking forward to going back to the office. My hope was to find some perspective on how others were feeling and maybe provide reassurance that we aren’t in this alone.

Still, regardless of how we feel or what we want, most of us aren’t going to have choice when it comes time to go back to the office. Our companies will say it’s time and we’ll go running back because we need our jobs, for better or worse. 

So, aside from work, what are some of the things that I miss about life pre-pandemic? What are the things that I will want to bring back into my life and what things will I want to live without?

New Friends. My favorite Instagram story response/argument for going back to the office was, “So I can make new friends.” It’s not just because the person who wrote this response just joined my team at work and I want to be best friends with her….no, pressure ;). It’s also because I’ve worked for this company for almost a year and have barely met my co-workers.

At my previous company I met some of my best friends and it’s hard now to not have friends at work. Even if I don’t find my new best friend at the office, it’s nice to just be able to build rapport and get to know the team on a personal level. At least for me, job satisfaction increases when I feel connected to the people I work with.

Happy Hours. Before the pandemic I actually started going to a Friday evening yoga class so I’d have an excuse to skip happy hour, or dip out early. I found that people are less likely to force you to take a shot when you’ve got a yoga mat in hand (shocking, I know). Overall though, I do miss happy hours. I don’t miss the excessive drinking and the pain I’d feel the next morning when I got up to meet my running group, but I do miss socializing with friends and co-workers. I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to grab drinks and bond with my new team.

Routine. If there’s one thing I miss the most about life pre-pandemic, it’s probably my routine. Since going remote, I’ve struggled with routine. It’s too easy to let myself sleep in or say I’ll just do it later when I know I’ll be home all day. Pre-pandemic though, I had the routine. I would wake up at the crack of dawn to workout. Some days I’d lift or take a spin class, but most days I ran. I’d run the Embarcadero and watch the sun rise over the Bay.

I miss it. I miss my walk from the gym to work. I normally hate crowds, but I miss the throngs of commuters stopped at the cross walk. I miss the random lady who paused to a minute to compliment me on my outfit. I miss settling into my spot in the conference room and making small talk with my team. I miss the walk home at night. I miss returning home exhausted, eating dinner, and then curling up with a good book as I dozed off to sleep. But most of all I miss doing it all again the next day. 

The Gym. While running has really gotten me through the pandemic, I miss going to the gym. Before all of this I was a member at Equinox, which according to it’s slogan, is even more than just a gym. “It’s not fitness, it’s life.” I have kept up an overall healthy lifestyle – I run, I strength train, and I eat a balanced plant-based diet. But I miss being around other people who do the same. I miss the community feel of being surrounded by other people who enjoyed spending their morning hours striving to improve themselves.

There are certainly many more things that I miss. It’s been so long there are probably little things I’ve forgotten how much I miss, like running into a friend on the street or smiling at a stranger. On the flip side, there’s one thing I don’t miss; the rush. I don’t miss pressure to constantly live a certain lifestyle, to always be out and about, to never take pause and reflect on what I’m doing and determine if I’m actually happy.

I’m grateful that the pandemic has given me this time to think and figure out what truly brings me joy. There were things in my life in March 2020 that weren’t serving me. I plan to leave those things behind and move onward to a better life. 

Outfit Details:

A Yellow Wood

A Yellow Wood

Life Choices & Fall in New England

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

If that sounds familiar — it should — it’s the first line in a pretty famous poem.

I can recall having to memorize Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” for English class in middle school. Clearly, it stuck with me as I can still recite every word to this day. 

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
 And sorry I could not travel both
 And be one traveler, long I stood
 And looked down one as far as I could
 To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 Then took the other, as just as fair,
 And having perhaps the better claim,
 Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
 Though as for that the passing there
 Had worn them really about the same,

 And both that morning equally lay
 In leaves no step had trodden black.
 Oh, I kept the first for another day!
 Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
 I doubted if I should ever come back.

 I shall be telling this with a sigh
 Somewhere ages and ages hence:
 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
 I took the one less traveled by,
 And that has made all the difference.

The lines most frequently come to mind around this time each year, especially when I’m home in Connecticut. I’ll go out running on one of the local trails and the imagery of Frost’s “yellow wood” engulfs me. 

The image of the divergent path is so literal in my mind. The leaf-covered path forks and the trees, with their yellowing branches, obscure the path ahead. As I run through the woods, I think about the path I’ve taken in life; “the road less travelled.”

It was the last few lines that probably stuck with me most. I have always tried to take “the road less travelled;” forever choosing the path that no one else dared to take because it was different or challenging. This mindset is likely what led me to fall in love with running, and marathons in particular. The idea of suffering for some noteworthy  accomplishment appealed to me. It’s also part of what lead me to move to San Francisco. 

Choosing to move across the country, thousands and miles away from friends and family, is never an easy one. For me though, it was.

When the opportunity to move to SF was presented, it seemed like the perfect option. Moving across the country to such a vibrant and unique city was a bold move, and it wasn’t one many of peers would have chosen. Therefore, it was perfect for me – I was up for the challenge. 

I took road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

But here’s the thing, that’s not the point. 

In preparing to write this post I decided to refresh my memory on the poem and it’s meaning. My research lead to a rude, but much needed, awakening. Evidently, this is one of the most widely misinterpreted poems… and I had fallen into it’s trap. 

It’s a common misconception is that the poem is about “the road less travelled,” when in fact, the title is the poem is The Road Not Taken.

Frost was not praising himself or anyone else for blazing their own path. Rather, he’d written the poem to poke fun at friend for his incessant chattering about not having taken a different path on a walk they took together. 

The poem of course goes far deeper than a joke at the expense of a friend. I could go line by line through my interpretation of the poem, but I’m assuming post readers won’t want to flash back to their middle school English class.

In it’s simplest form, the poem is telling us it’s silly to regret choices we’ve made in life as each metaphorical road we didn’t choose wouldn’t have changed our lives all that much. 

Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same.”

And yet, it’s the culmination of each of the “roads” we chose that determines where we are in life…and where we’re going. 

It’s incredibly easy to dwell on past decisions, and a trap I find myself falling into more often than I’d like to admit.

What if I’d taken a different job or moved to a different city? What if I hadn’t let myself fall for that guy, would my heart never have been broken? What if I had never decided to join the cross country team, would I ever have found my passion for running? 

If I hadn’t made each and every decision I’ve made over the past twenty-five years, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And, despite everything that’s gone wrong over those past twenty-five years, I am extremely grateful for each decision I’ve made because I know I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

As for the decision to move to SF, for that I am probably the most grateful. There have been more times than I’d care to admit where living in a strange city 4,000 miles away from my friends and family was extraordinarily lonely. While many of my co-workers had friends from college, or siblings, or cousins nearby, I had none. I toted myself on my ability to do things on my own and be perfectly content. In reality though, it was hard. 

When you’re going through a really difficult time it’s tough not to question each and every decision you made that got you to that point.

It got easier though, I made friends with people who had made the same bold decisions and were struggling in the same ways I was, even if we didn’t always admit it to each other. I made more friends with people with whom I shared many common interests. We bonded over heartbreak, career struggles, and a love for the outdoors. 

Furthermore, I learned how to say “no” to things and people that I weren’t serving me. I’m learning how to balance work and life, though that’s an ongoing battle. Ultimately though, I learned how to prioritize myself and my own happiness, and that by constantly forging my way down “the road less travelled,” I was setting myself up to be miserable. 

One of the major factors in my decision to move to California was a desire to distance myself from where I grew up. I love my friends and family here, but I thought that I was bigger and better than our small town. Having spent nearly 6 months this past year living at home on and off, I realize how silly that notion was. I’m ever grateful for my choice to move to SF and I will never regret that. But I didn’t need to march down the road less travelled all the way across the country just to prove a point. 

Or maybe I did.

Being away for so long has given me a renewed appreciation for the most wonderful time of year in small-town Connecticut. The trees are filled with bright and vibrant colors, the ground is coated in a bed of fallen leaves, and the air has a little bit of a chill in it – just enough that my nose gets a little red after taking the dog for a long walk.

So now as I run along the leaf-covered trails I think about my past decisions and about the long way I’ve travelled to get here. I think about the times I decided to take “the road less travelled,” because I thought I was up for the challenge and I might just impress a few people along the way. I chuckle a little as I go, thinking about how naive I was to believe that anyone cared if I did that. But really, that decision, the decision to run my first marathon, to move across the country to San Francisco, or even way back to high school, deciding to join the cross country team. Each of those decisions, they have made all the difference. 

“And that has made all the difference”

What decisions have made a difference in your life? What things did you question in the moment that, looking back now, have made all the difference? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Quarter-Life Crisis

A quarter of a century later….

Being in your mid-20s is a weird time. If you’re in your 20’s you know this is true. We have some friends who go out and party every weekend (and week night), and we have other friends who are engaged and/or married…maybe they even have kids already. 

I’d like to think I’m a happy medium between the extremes. I don’t really go out drinking very much anymore – maybe once a week at most (before COVID, of course), but I could also not be farther from being engaged…let alone married. 

I recently celebrated my 25th birthday – the mark of the true middle of my 20’s.

Being in the middle of a global pandemic is a weird time to be celebrating something, but I was lucky enough to be at home with my family in Connecticut and they put together a lovely little celebration for me involving a few close family friends, a set of giant “2” & “5” balloons, and some delicious spicy margaritas. 

A few margaritas into my little birthday celebration I got a text from my college roommate – one of my absolute best friends in the whole world –she had gotten engaged. Abby, my best friend, and her boyfriend, Dan, have been together for ~6 years by now. They met the first day of class freshman year and after a year of “just friends” status they started dating. Fast forward six years later, Dan got down on one knee and asked Abby to marry him. 

I am BEYOND happy for Abby and Dan; their love story is one I hold very dear to my heart. I considered it a lovely gift to me that Dan and Abby would get engaged on my birthday. After all, I do credit myself a bit with them finally starting to date…but that’s a story for another time. Still, I couldn’t be helped but to think about how different my life was from Abby’s. We’re the same age, but we’re in very different places in our lives. 

I could not imagine being engaged right now. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t met the right person, or because I have been spending some time focusing on myself after my last relationship ended. Or, maybe it’s because I’m naturally independent, or maybe I’m less mature. But no matter the cause, it’s clear I’m just in a different place in my life. 

My true love.

My neighbors had a litter of dachshund puppies and let us “borrow” a few for my birthday festivities.

This got me thinking about whether one place was better than the other. Is being career focused better than being relationship focused? Is spending more time traveling better than being settled in one place? Is being engaged or married better than being single?

I would say no. 

About a week prior to my birthday my sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year. I told her all I wanted was happiness. Naturally, she meant as a gift, a physical present, but truthfully I didn’t want any tangible good, all I wanted was to be happy. 

And that’s why I don’t think any one lifestyle is better than the other, at 25, in your late 20s, or at any age. There is no one size fits all model for life, it’s about following your heart and doing what makes you happy. And that’s exactly how I am living my life. 

I was incredibly happy to be spending time with my parents, sisters, and close friends for my birthday. I was elated to get in a 6 mile run the morning of my birthday – and was extremely grateful that the oppressive June heat and humidity had calmed a bit that day. I am also happy and SO excited to celebrate Abby and Dan’s engagement (and eventually their wedding) because I love them both and I know that they are following their hearts and are happiest together. 

The fact that we each find happiness in our own way – that’s what matters most.