“You totally have a type. You always crush on the smart, super-involved boys.”
“Guys don’t know if you like them or not because you’re so friendly to everyone.”
“Sweetie, does [Current Crush] know you don’t like football? Maybe you shouldn’t mention that.”
“Maybe you’re too picky.”
These comments, and many other variations, have been lobbed at me since I was about 16 years-old. Friends and family have offered up unsolicited advice, all from a place of genuine love and concern, but also from a total lack of understanding.
In a nutshell, everyone told me: “Change who you are, change what you want in a man, or stay single.”
Well, I took their advice. I stayed single.
I wasn’t willing to change my personality to convince one of my best guy friends to date me. Nor was I willing to date a guy not good enough to be in one of my many and varied circles of friends.
Being single was great.
I might not have had a boyfriend, but I never lacked for male companionship.
I never had a problem finding dates for my sorority functions. I was friends with all the brothers in Pi Kappa Phi, and later in Beta Theta Pi, all of whom made great dates.
During the summers, I drank with my twin brother and our shared (guy) friends from high school. Sometimes I was even privy to unfiltered guy talk. I graduated from college a few weeks shy of my twenty-second birthday, no current or past boyfriends to speak of.
I moved to France to become an au pair, and then again to teach English.
I pined after a few of those best guy friends at home, but my long-distance crushes didn’t stop me from flirting with (and sometimes kissing) every French guy I met. My plan was to fall in love with a French man, get married, and live in France the rest of my life
But life turned out even better. I made three new best friends—we have the matching tattoos to prove it. I traveled all over France, sometimes with friends, sometimes by myself. I finally made it to Norway to meet all my cousins.
I’ve vastly improved my French language skills. I’ve perfected my self-confidence. I’ve discovered the art of dining alone. I’ve learned how to win over strangers in a single conversation, in English or en français. I’ve created—and followed—a tight budget for the first time in my life.
I’ve achieved the impossible, and I’ve become a better person because of it.
Maybe I still could have done it all with a boyfriend back home, but I never could have made those dreams a reality with a husband in tow.
My life-changing experiences provided me the courage to withdraw my application (when I was one of two final candidates) for a year-long, salaried internship at my alma mater. Why? To fulfill another dream: interning with my sorority for eleven weeks in Columbus, Ohio.
As fate would have it, I fell in love with the city of Columbus. I also started dating a man who met all my picky requirements, a man who recognized all my awesomeness. I compromised neither my standards nor myself.
My current job began in New York and has taken me to Toronto. My long-distance relationship has proven that my past decisions were the right ones to make. I’m not 100% invested in my glitzy environment as I was in France. My life is split in half. For this man, the sacrifice is worth it.
But if I had only listened…
If I had dumbed myself down,
Or pretended to like sports…
If I had dated the guy with different values,
Or agreed to go out with men less intelligent than I am…
Not only would I have not lived the awesome single life I did, I never would have met the man of my dreams.
I chose to be single, rather than settle. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What about you? Do you think it’s important to stay true to yourself? Or do you think I’ve missed out?
Brita Long likes to call herself an international jet-setter. Three years out of undergrad, she is not in grad school, she is not married, and she has not lived in one place longer than ten months. (To the absolute horror of 18-year-old Brita). But she’s happy and she’s paying the bills–that’s all that matters, right? Follow Brita on Twitter.