The winter holidays have come and gone, and at least 10 of my Facebook friends have gotten engaged. 2016 begins as another year starring me, myself, and I (and my two cats), but the thing is.. I chose for it to be that way.
Six months ago I moved to New York City as a 22-year-old recent grad, on track toward earning a master’s degree in journalism. I was brand new to this fast-paced city of 8 million strangers, and was thrown into a demanding program with roughly 100 other experienced and skilled candidates. Two or three weeks in, I was already feeling my head slip under water trying to balance deadlines, learning new technology, falling in line with the motions of the city, etc., all while simultaneously trying to maintain a long distance relationship.
I had tried the long distance thing before, knowing it typically failed. But I honestly believed, possibly in a naive sense, that I loved this person enough to make it work. I had been with them for three years collectively, and the program was only a year and a half. With so many people in my hometown getting married, engaged, having kids in their early 20s, I thought it made sense to simply follow suit once I earned my degree.
But the weight grew to be too heavy, and the stress of juggling everything was making me feel physically sick. I found myself having to choose between my work and my relationship in one too many scenarios, which felt a lot like making a choice between myself and someone else.
After the first few months of being constantly frustrated I had to ask myself – why did I move to New York in the first place? Not to settle down, that was for sure. The move in general was a life lesson to me. Despite the social norms of the south I was used to, I realized that right now I am too young to worry about being with someone forever. As many times as I’ve felt that I had gone through the “I’m just figuring it out” stages of life, it was clear to me that I wasn’t finished with them. I didn’t want to look at someone that I did care for as a hinderance on my life, so I ended it.
I’ve finally come to a conclusion in my life where I feel that being selfish isn’t necessarily bad in every situation. I’ve made countless decisions over the years worrying about how they would effect others, always considering the wants and feelings of those around me before my own. But when it came to this, when it came to my future, my career, and my potential to grow as a professional, young woman in this huge city of opportunity, I chose to be selfish.
You could call me cold, heartless maybe, but I see myself as more powerful than ever. You see, we are part of a generation that has more opportunity at our fingertips than generations before us, and I’ve always believed in seizing that opportunity. I’ve never been interested in settling down early for the sake of social norms, or “settling”for anything, really. I think that drive and that ambition should be seen as a value to another person in my life. If it isn’t, I’m going to keep working until I get to a point of success where I’m satisfied, with or without someone else at my side.
Once I reach that point, whether I’m 25, 28, or 32, I genuinely believe the rest will fall into place. And well, if it doesn’t, I still have two cats.