I’ll hold my own hand

So, dating. A time when two people become so exclusively codependent that their whole lives now revolve around each other. A time when you lose your independent identity and instead become part of a two-person mass that waddles around scaring children and making babies cry.

What the heck even is dating? Why do other animals seem to not have all the struggles and heartache and pain that humans do when it comes to finding a mate? Honestly, I think our romantic tendencies as a whole are one of the most differentiating traits of the human race. We are not satisfied with simply staring at someone, waiting for our hormones to kick in and tell us: “Yes, their face is symmetrical and their hips are suitable for childbirth” and then proposing to them on the spot.

Humans are so fickle. We have to be all coy and flirtatious—flirting is yet another Great Unsolved Mystery of the World I shall never comprehend—and never say what we mean but maybe act how we feel by attempting to pretend we are some ‘better’ version of ourselves that someone else may find more suitable. And I will never understand the benefit of pretending to be something you are not. Perhaps romance is just glorified deception and manipulation.

I feel like I was always a romantic growing up—I loved all the romcoms I watched with my friends and Hallmarks will forever be a holiday tradition in my household. The idea of a special someone who would sweep me away and feed me yummy food always came up in my ponderances of my future. So, I am not quite sure when romance for me transformed from a pleasant future of “tall, dark and mysterious” to an overrated pleading for attention. But perhaps it started with my interactions with the dreaded concept of dating.

In middle school, it was people walking down the hallway holding hands and passing notes. High school brought a bigger change. Because now I was not a grossed-out observer, I was a participant. And let me tell you all bluntly, I went right up to the edge of that pool of relationships and love and dating and peered in, then took a step back and dove right in. I was so incredibly lost in my first relationship. I was trying to act like the people who dated in movies, on television and those I knew around me in real life. I was acting like anyone but myself, because I thought being in a relationship meant acting in a certain way and not just acting like yourself. I had no self-identity. My days revolved around my boyfriend and his every want, and we had zero fights because our communication was nonexistent—we never talked about what was bothering us or how we felt like faking this version of ourselves for the other person really just made us feel drained and sad, rather than madly in love.

Honestly, I think in every relationship I have ever been in, I have always been a little lost. I am a people pleaser, and I find myself easily losing track of what I want and what I need when I am so focused on what I can do for those around me. I do not plan on changing my outlook on life anytime soon, because I truly do love making those around me who I care for happy. But I do wish I had learned much sooner in life how to be in a relationship with someone and still be myself.

To everyone attempting the whole dating debacle, I want you to know from both me now and my younger self, it is okay to have your own life! Please go out and do separate things that you enjoy, have friends that just you hang out with, spend some time apart from your partner and spend some time alone. You are your own person, always. You have your own wants and desires and you need to prioritize those without ever feeling guilty.

I will not tell you that you should go and “find yourself” first before you find someone else because that is bulls***. Love is so great because it is unexpected and surprising, and it is extremely probable that you will fall in love before you even really understand who you are. The point of having a partner in this life, at least in my opinion, is not just for procreation, but to have someone there to help you along the path as you grow to find yourself and help them as well.

So, if you still do not know who you are or what you want to be in this great world when you get hit with Cupid’s arrow, that is completely normal. Love is intoxicating and should not be feared, but it should be respected. Trust love and the change it will make on your heart, but do not lose yourself in trying to please someone else you are dating and call that justifiable because you love them.

Be yourself. If that is not enough for your partner, then they do not deserve you.