"Don't let it consume you."
He shared stories of friends he had from high school and college and how consumption to various things had provided a pivotal point in their lives when things took a turn for the worse. And he further reinforced a message he had been giving to me for years, "Focus and balance. Balance and focus." We talked about how as long as you have balance in your life, a positive focus and never let anything totally consume you beyond your control, you're on the right track.
For the great majority of my life (save a handful of nights in college) I've followed quite closely to this advice. If you ask any of my friends nowadays, it's a rare occasion that I actually get drunk and even that only happens when I'm in a safe place, with people I know, and a guaranteed ride home. I've watched people very close to me become consumed by substances and this has only helped the message hit home even harder.
And now, at the ripe old age of 28 I've got a pretty good balance down. Until recently, I noticed I had maybe become a little consumed by something totally different. Something far less scary than booze or crack, but consumed nonetheless...Dating. Anyone who's single in the "grown-up" world can probably attest to this. It's not like college where you're just constantly meeting new people, and friends of friends are introducing you to new men like it's going out of style. Dating in the "real world" can become work. Like part time job, waste a bunch of time and don't get paid, WORK. It happens kind of quickly and you don't realize it at first. Then all of a sudden you realize you're juggling dates and staying up late texting someone who probably has a girlfriend anyways. (What's that? Oh, just me? Well then, carry on.) And like anything that consumes you, the high of it eventually wears off. You burn out. What was once fun and exciting becomes daunting. You feel pressure to keep up with it. Go out, meet people, put yourself "out there". And then, it's not fun and it's not exciting. It's stressful. It becomes all people ask about. You become sick of telling the same stories over and over again.
I realize this makes me sound just absolutely ridiculous. But it's true, and if you're in a similar situation you probably can relate. I still like dating, I'm still very open to dating people and I'm excited about the potential of meeting nice, quality men. But that's just a little sliver of what is going on in my life. There's so much more to do and get excited about and learn.
So I've made an effort in the last couple weeks to become unconsumed by dating. To not care about it, to not get wrapped up in how successful it is, to not let my happy or sad moments be hinging on someone else. And let me tell you something, this has been a fantastic decision. I've been doing all sorts of stuff for me and me alone. I've stepped outside of my comfort zone for no one else but myself. I've been to the gym more, read more books, cooked dinners, met strangers, joined a book club, gone to church, had sleepovers with my nephew, and spent more time with friends and family. All while not giving a fuck (to be quite blunt) about dating, or men, or if or when I'll ever get married.
It has been quite liberating. And before you get all your panties in a bundle, let's just cover some bases. While I've joked quite a bit lately about just picking up some more cats and calling it a day, I don't actually think I'll end up a crazy cat lady. I'm still confident I'll date someone at some point. But in the mean time, I'm going to make Single Angie's life the best damn life it can be. And so far I'm doing quite well. So take that dating, you consume me no longer!