I’ve always believed every cloud has a silver lining. Plenty of times in my life, plans and expectations backlash or don’t unfolded the way I’d prefer yet after some lapse of time, the purpose of the event becomes evident. I remember when I was slaving away on a farm in a small rural town in Australia. I was miserable while there but afterwards gained clarity about myself and my basic necessities to be happy. Then there was the time I got devastated after being denied a job I’d applied for, only to be contacted shortly after and offered an even better position. Situations similar to these have brought me momentary negative emotions while in hindsight prove to have been worth it.
For some odd reason, the silver lining theory wouldn’t apply to my dating life. Up until I was twenty sixish, my track record had neither been pleasant nor gained me any social rewards. Quite the opposite, I’d received a nice scoop of rejections and disappointments with negative remarks, questioning and being an outsider sprinkled on top. I was rather full on “not good enough” syndrome struggling to see what good had come out of it all. In retrospect, it’s clear to me one major reason was I’d barely reeked the benefits of the solo lifestyle. At least no where near the extent of equal balance between the pro’s and the cons. Sold on the relationship “ happily ever after” jargong, I naively bought that was the only route leading to true happiness (cringe). Since prince charming wasn’t showing his face I reasoned I must be defaulted somehow.
Fast forwarding a couple of years, I had entered a whole other stage in my singledom. A psychology degree richer, growing passion for solo travels and overall increase in independence had boosted my confidence. The tight grip of monogamy frenzy was also losing its grip and I found myself no longer buying the “upgrade” coupledom was painted out to be. Moving along with my life and happily so, I still had a nagging tension within. Quite desperately, I needed to fathom the point of the harm my forever singleness had caused in the past. Unsuccessfully I was twisting and turning to find the big payoff in it all. From my perspective at the time, my singleton journey was such an anti-climax and I had a hard time accepting it. Sure, there were a few profits, but it was pocket change in comparison to what I’d gone through. A tiny part of me was waiting for a huge payoff to cash in for all the hassle. Deep inside I caught a belief assuming the reward would appear in the shape of “ the right person”. No wonder, the hype around romantic partnerships is insane. With it’s superior position, outshining any other form of relations and marketed as having patent on deep love and connection, could you blame me? In spite of being contempt with my life, when checking in with myself asking “has my singleness been worth it?” I was reluctantly shaking my head.
Then one day a fat check finally dropped in the mailbox. I was scrolling on instagram and I came across a picture of someone I once had eyes for who’d clearly had moved on. I continued to scroll when it hit me. Quickly, I rewined to the specific image and I was taken off guard by my reaction. I felt nothing. You see, back in the day I know for certain the photo in question would have set me off in a world wind of negative thinking about myself. Suspecting the absence of affect was a false alarm, I ploughed through triggers guaranteed to rattle me up. I pulled up pictures reminding me previous failed encounters, updates by friends way ahead of me in the relationship game and old texts where I’d clearly been pied. Nope, I got nothing. The triggers had notably lost their magic. The question popping up in my head during this revelation was “why would I care?” I love my life and can’t grasp how others business in any way could possibly mirror me or my value. To be fair, it feels rather far fetched. I suspect I’d felt this way for long but not articulated it yet. An attitude had been forming which wasn’t so inclined automatically accepting outside signs of disapproval as factual truth. It’s my choice to stand on my own side and boost myself to my best ability in those situations. This was clearly a new milestone for me and I celebrated by breaking out in my happy/chicken dance saved up for rare occasions! I asked myself as countless times before; has my forever signless paid off? Hell, yes!
I’m not sure what the official definition of self-worth is. If I would attempt to frame the essence of a healthy sense of self-worth, I’d say it’s when a positive self image is kept in the midst of disapproval, rejections or negative perceptions of such. Certainly it’s impossible to exclusively experience great value of oneself. It still hits me now and again but not as intensely in the “romantic” department. Self-doubt or getting absorbed in feelings of being less is bound to occur now and again, it’s part of the human experience. However, I’ve learned self-value can work as a sort of buffer when facing situations that don’t make me feel good about myself and empower me instead of shreding.
If someone told me couple of years ago that my forever singles would be a ticket to increasing my self-worth, it would have annoyed me big time. Hearing “positive” stories about singlehood not resulting in partnership, just seemed like a lame cover up or settling for second best (the “best” being a relationship of course). So I don’t want to downplay the role my forever singleness had in the past. Though I truly feel it’s been worth it today my response was negative most of my life.
During sessions with struggling singles’ the concept of self-value and the link to singleness is essential. Specifically, how being single is viewed by the individual and the influences it has on their well-being. Getting swept away by negative judgements or playing the comparison game can cloud who gets to have the final say about our core value. To those searching for a partner I can’t highlight enough the importance of introspecting the area of self-worth before heading into the dating jungle. I would know, my main downfall was basing my value outside myself, pretty much handing over the control of my well-being and sanity. Being “outhere” can get very vulnerable so navigating oneself and inner stability is key.
I absolutely love taking part in my client’s self-worth journey and observing the progress they make. The recognition factor is high and that’s probably why I feel so passionate about this type of work. With that being said, self-value, in my opinion is not a race with a finish line. I think it probably resembles’ a continual spectrum requiring conscious maintaining and regular check ups.