The experience of being single often reminds me of a book that I used to like reading when I was a child called “Are You My Mother”? I relate to the newborn chick in the story, wandering alone and exposed throughout the world, asking each strange creature he encounters if its his mother: desperately seeking his match. In my case, whenever I encounter a potential mate, my inner voice quietly asks itself “Are You My Partner”?
I dip in and out of the online dating world. I am assured by others that it is the place to meet new people these days but it is a hard environment to navigate. There is such a wide range of people. It is a crowded space and everyone has very different needs and intentions. I am also told that in the particular city I live in, there are five single women available for every single male. These are not great odds.
I have now started to reorient the way that I think about this process: turning it from outward to inward facing. I consider each dating experience as an opportunity to learn more about myself. To develop and hone my skills of self-reflection and care. What are my boundaries? Can I be brave and ask for what I need? What is my inner knowing telling me? Can I hold onto myself when things get difficult? Can I initiate a difficult conversation? What are the red flags? Are they deal breakers? Do I truly choose this person or am I simply settling for companionship?
When I get disheartened, I often think back to this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
I want to live my life in the arena, daring greatly. This is a life worth living. It is messy and scary and unknown but it is where I need to be. I don’t ever know if I will ever find my perfect partner, but in the meantime, I will be my own perfect partner and keep loving myself fiercely, loyally and unconditionally. I will remain committed to becoming a better human, and version of myself, and I will keep getting up, no matter how many times I am knocked down, and continue trying.