Friday, 28 November 2014

A Year of Single: What I Learned About Dating

So... I've been single now for almost a year, and my oh my, what a year it has been.

I'm always pretty honest and open about my life on the internet, I figure - why not? People will judge you regardless, and at the end of the day, you're only ever really what you choose to reveal. And if you're a good person with good intentions, honesty can't really backfire too much, I hope.

When I first became single back in December 2013 - my first instinct was PANIC. For three years I'd known routine - and even though my happiness levels had plateaued below a comfortable level, it was still a daunting feeling to have to start from scratch. Square One. I'd made the fatal error of allowing a boyfriend to become more than just a boyfriend - my social life was lacking, my business took up 50% of my life, and he was the other 50%. All of a sudden I had this gaping hole in my chest and in my life, and my mind was screaming, FILL IT. FILL IT. 

And that's what I did. I jumped head-first into the first guy who caught my eye. 

Lesson 1 - Panic dating is not a good idea. 

This guy was lovely. Great conversation, nice stable job, great with kids and seemed to really care about his future and want to settle down. No drama, nice upbringing. He was ready, I was ready - what could go wrong? A lot, apparently. Whilst I won't get into the details, I learned from this lesson that's when you're panic dating, you ignore a lot of the essentials that you had forgotten you required. His offer of stability made me totally forget that I thirst for someone who has adventure coursing through his veins, who can get up and go exploring at the drop of a hat. In fact, I've never really liked stability at all in a guy. I've always been attracted to guys who are searching for something, yearning for something, constantly trying to put their finger on what it is about life that makes their feet want to run. And after a couple of months, and the initial post-break-up mist had cleared, I realized that I had completely forgotten what I was looking for.


Lesson 2 - Recognising a Summer Romance

This year, I also had my first ever summer romance. As soon as I met him, I knew it wasn't meant to be anything more than a friendship. And yet he had a music taste that had me yelling "I LOVE THIS SONG!" every time he shuffled, and a backpack that was ready to go at all times. Hiking, adventure, camping, guitars, roadtrips. Exploration at every corner, and just a real fondness for each other. In recognising he was a summer romance, I had no desire to assert any kind of control over his life, or attempt to divert it's course. It was incredibly liberating. I've always been a hopeless romantic and a relationship-girl. As soon as I see a guy isn't for me - I carry the hell on and don't look back, and I'll usually know in a matter of weeks. This time round, though, I let myself enjoy the friendship. I let myself get close to someone, all the while knowing the expiration date would come. And we left it on great terms, with an incredible summer of memories, and a fantastic friendship that will last a long time. It was one of the only "relationships" I've ever had that have been nothing but positive. When he set off on his next adventure, I felt zero pangs of sadness, no yearning, no "what if". Just a "Have an amazing time! Catch you soon, friend."

Lesson 3 - Tinder is not good.

Tinder. Well. Tinder made me feel very good about myself - new matches all the time, endless inquiries from an ever-growing queue of hopeful suitors. I think I was one of the lucky ones never to get harassment or straight-up sexual offers, I was always very much treated with respect on Tinder. I went on a couple of dates with incredibly lovely guys, but the experience as a whole on app-dating was horribly unemotional. 
I found myself in bars mentally swiping people that I walked past, and men felt so easily disposable all of a sudden. I never knew how MANY guys were out there until Tinder. "Good looking? Check. Ambitious? Check. Well travelled? Check. But wait - he lives 53km away, and is 23 when I ideally want someone at least 25?... NEXT."
It was TERRIBLE. I enjoyed the ability to swipe for around 3 weeks, and then deleted and began properly enjoying getting to know people again. No one should have access to that many options - because as Sylvia Plath put it -
"I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet."

Well said, Sylvia. Who knew your gorgeous poetry could describe Tinder so precisely?

Lesson 4 - Single is a default, not a status

I feel sometimes that as a woman, we are conditioned to spend our whole lives waiting for Prince Charming to rock up and give us permission to finally begin enjoying our lives. From every DAMN DISNEY MOVIE EVER forced upon us as children, to every teen magazine emblazoned with ways to impress men, be attractive for men, EXIST for men - to romantic movies (or, every movie I can think of), - I found it a very uncomfortable situation to have no romance brewing at all, whatsoever. Zip. Nada. Hmm.

There became a time when I was wide awake on some random Tuesday at 3am. I was considering re-downloading Tinder, I'll be honest. And then I thought, "I love Sylvia Plath quotes, but I don't know anything about her." And I wiki-ed her. 

This 3am changed my life. For the next month, I spent every night from 1am-6am (some nights, I didn't sleep at all) LEARNING. I googled every single person I could possibly think of - Plath, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Shakespeare, The Bronte Sisters, Frieda Kahlo, Timothy Leary, Steve Jobs... I started INHALING wikipedia at an ungodly speed. I watched documentary upon documentary, I invested all my time into everything and anything that captured a moment of interest in me. I wrote poetry, I started conceptualizing for photography again, I listened to incredible music, I learned, I learned. 
I learned about Islam, I learned about the universe, the Fermi Paradox, I blew the dust from old Philosophy textbooks, I learned about revolutions and stepped back in utter wonderment at this incredible world I had been apart of for 23 years, that I had only ever skimmed the surface of. 

At first - I was captivated. Gripped by this unfamiliar thirst for knowledge, amazed at the people who have stood on this same earth and stared at the same stars as ME! And then, I was sad. I was disappointed in myself, in society, that I had allowed myself to be deprived of so much wonderment for so long. All that time I had been waiting for Prince Charming, I'd been waiting at the window for his car to arrive, only to ignore the fascinating, captivating, incredulous world that lay on my doorstep, waiting patiently at my feet to be acknowledged. 

I was saddened that society does not teach women to search for this. How had I missed out on all this LIFE? Why have I been brainwashed to need a man, when all I need is the dirt beneath my feet and the infinite galaxies that hang above my head, just to feel alive? Single is not a status. Single is my default. I am an incredible being - I can move matter with my mind. I live in a universe which mysteries remain unsolved and I have the opportunity to ponder, to question - and this ENTIRE time, I've been taught that I should be thinking about what colour to paint my nails to best impress some guy?! EH?!

But you can't dwell on the past, and I have a lot of making up to do. Big lesson, that one.

And so,

Lesson 4. Wait for the "Fuck Yeah!"

In my opinion, the "Fuck Yeah!" can only come when you know yourself, and the world, very well. I have not known myself for 23 years.  I have not known the depths of my interests and the depths of the worlds behind my eyes, until now. I am so enthralled by being alive, and learning, that right at this moment - I could happily be by myself for the rest of my days. Just give me some wi-fi and my cat, and there will be no problems here, my friend.

The "Fuck Yeah!" comes when someone shows up in your life, and you question what it is they can bring to your already fabulous, fulfilling and exciting existence. And they impress you. Not with promises of escape, romantic gestures, expensive gifts or rock hard abs. Oh no.

I have found myself impressed with a man that can teach me things I've never considered. I am turned on by an extensive vocabulary, by a man who knows even more than I do, even after months of wiki-mania. The conversation is fluent, unfaltering. The wit is perfectly timed and the laughter is belly deep and leaves my jaw-aching. To stay awake and discuss philosophy, science, dreams, art - not because it's cute to do this with a guy because I saw it on a movie or a pinterest list somewhere, but because I need to know if he knows himself, too. I have to know this guy. I have to turn him inside-out and empty his body of all his knowledge, and pour it into myself. 

Do I need a man in my life? Nope. I don't. Do I need this man in my life? Fuck Yeah.

And if he doesn't seem captivated by me? That's alright. Because I have a world at my fingertips that I can lose myself in, any time, any day. Rejection isn't scary when the alternative is time to learn, time to grow, time to build and conquer.  I mean, I am pretty awesome. I'm a total catch. Why would I spend any time on anyone who doesn't see the magic that's overflowing from my boots? Who can't hear the music? Who doesn't see the point of the excitement for life that's glittering in my eyes?
Oh no, no.


Wait for the Fuck Yeah.
Wait. For. It. 

12 comments:

  1. I'm in (and have been in) similar space(s). Thank you for summing it up so well. You are a wise, wondrous & growing woman.

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  2. Rosie, you write like a goddess. Loved reading this!
    Xx, Aditi

    adi-may.blogspot.com

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  3. When I read your post I felt the urge to contact you. Since I read an article about you on the Digital Photography School site I have not stopped following your work; but always admiring your side as a photographer, your creativity, your artistic sensibility. Now I feel deeply connected with a person living in another continent and that goes through the same dilemmas.

    I really appreciate all that you share with us all, now I just want to share something with you when I was more or less your age and going through something similar. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, a book I wish I had read before 23. I wish I had another level of understanding of myself at that age or any age.

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  4. The world needs more Rosie Hardys. Fuck Yeah!

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  5. Inspirational, Rosie. In a very similar position and couldn't agree more.

    (ps there are two Lesson 4s in the article)

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  6. Fantastic post Rosie! Could not commend this enough! :)

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  7. i always love your writing, thank you for this post :)

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  8. This post is wonderful! I've been following your work for years and years, and honestly at this point the main reason I come back is for your writing and musings.

    This reminded me of an interview with Diana Von Furstenberg, she says: “I think the most important thing for anyone is to have a great relationship with yourself. Because no matter what happens you always have yourself, you know? Just take yourself seriously and be close to yourself and be demanding on yourself. But also like yourself and design your life.”

    I think that's so true, even (especially!) when you're in a long term relationship. Hanging out with yourself is important!

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  9. Dear Rosie, It makes me soooo solo sooo happy that you have discovered this on your own.. I had a similar experience after trying to pick myself up from a terrible relationship. You are right, women should be taught this more. And even men so to speak, I feel like men, also become subject to the mentality of being powerful and needing to find a mate. Going to the gym and looking "hot" and don't care about their souls or intellect. I'm glad that you are taking yourself on dates and discovering the world around you! It is liberating. I wish you luck and that hopefully we can see a glimpse of your new discoveries through your photography!! Cheers!

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  10. Rosie, you have no idea how much this post and seeing you so happy after your break up has helped me. My boyfriend/fiance of five years left me recently. You're such an inspiration. I've followed you for years anyway, and I've always loved your work, but now i have a whole new love for you. I follow you on instagram and i just love all your posts. Your always smiling. You seem so content and happy. I remember when i first saw this post in November, i was still in a relationship and i didn't think anything other than "good for you". But then my ex left me (in February) and today i found myself actively seeking this post. I've read it through a whole new set of eyes. Its given me so much hope and although its only been a month, i hope to be where you are in a years time. I wish you nothing but more happiness and hope one day with both find the people we deserve to make us happy. Thank you for giving me hope, and showing me everything will be okay. That its not the end.
    Thank you thank you thank you.

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