This is a dialogue between 17 and 24 year old me concerning Valentine’s Day and singleness that I wrote around last Valentine’s Day. It’s amazing to see how my perspective on things has changed for the most part in the last 7 (or 8) years. All of these thoughts still apply today and I thought it would be fun to share them with you.
It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m single…
And what’s your point?
Wait, you’re me.
Yes, you in 7 years.
I don’t have a six pack yet?
I’m working on that, but let’s get back to what you were first saying.
This is weird Jarrod.
I know, but back to the topic.
OK… I don’t like being single.
So? Very few people do. You’re not exactly a unique snowflake in this feeling.
You’re not being helpful.
Sure I am.
Over 96 million Americans are single. The world-wide single population is probably 10 times that number. What makes your plight so special?
Our plight you mean.
Sorry. Because I don’t like it. I want to be with someone.
Hold on. Is this “wanting someone” thing because everyone else is getting someone and you want someone? Sounds an awful lot like the Super Nintendo situation in 1st grade.
No… And that’s not the same thing.
Sure it is. Like the Super Nintendo, you think a relationship, or an object, will make you happy, that it will fulfill your every need. But it won’t. You can’t objectify a relationship. It’s entirely the wrong way to pursue it.
Everyone looks so happy though.
But do you think that’s the only thing in their life that makes them happy? If it is, they’re setting themselves up for disappointment.
I’m so tired of seeing everyone else in love. It makes me feel like…
Something’s wrong with you? Guess what? There isn’t, mostly. You’re immature, but you’re seventeen, it’s a given.
I’m not immature!
Yeah… anyway, it’s life. It moves at a different pace for everyone. Do you really want to rush into something and regret it for years to come?
No. That would be terrible.
Then quit focusing on the negative. There is a silver lining to all of this.
Think about the positives of not being in a relationship for a moment.
Umm… I’m saving money.
A stereotypical answer. Not always correct, but valid. Think deeper. Bigger.
I’m not sure. Enlighten me.
If you were investing a lot of your time in someone else, would you be able to focus on improving yourself?
Maybe you need to be using this time to become the man the right women will want to be with not scrambling to find a woman. You have time to build yourself up, to focus on your relationship with God, time to advance at work or push for that promotion. You can get in shape, start a new project, take up a new hobby, spend more time with your friends, take more risks. The world is our oyster and you don’t have anything major to hold you back.
You’re saying it’s not as bad as I’m making it seem?
I’m saying you’re misinterpreting what cards you’ve been dealt. This isn’t something to loathe; this is an opportunity to jump on. You’re 17. This is where you start building the foundation that you’ll base your adult life’s decisions on. God has given you this time for one purpose: to grow you closer to him and to grow you individually. Everything will happen in his time, including finding someone. So you can choose one of two things: bitter or better. Bitterness is a paralytic, and what have you been doing lately?
Nothing. Feeling sorry for myself, not growing in anything spiritual or in any other area of my life. I guess you can say I’ve been paralyzed.
Exactly. But what does better do?
It does things?
Right on. Better implies improvement, it implies a process, it implies movement, not passivity. Don’t waste this opportunity.
You know what, you’re right! Maybe I’ve been looking at this all wrong.
The only good quote to ever come out of The Phantom Menace summed it up perfectly: “Our perception determines our reality.” And that’s exactly what you needed, a shift in perception.
So does it get better? The next 7 years?
Yes, but not without pain. You’re doing to fall in love and out of it. You’re going to have some relationships. You’re going to get your heart broken. You’re going to fail people, hurt people, hurt yourself, make mistakes. But you’re going to learn so much. You’re going to make lifelong friends that you’ll thank God for every day, and lose touch with others. Life is going to get in the way of many of the things you want, and you’re never going to get the reasons why. For every amazing experience you may have a couple of bad ones, or vice versa. But believe this: life is so much more meaningful now. The things you’ve learned are so much more important and necessary. The growth you’ve experienced is astronomical. But guess what? I still haven’t stopped growing, we haven’t stopped. With growth comes maturity, and while at 24 you may have some bad days, you’ll learn that it’s often better to be happy for others instead of sorry for yourself. And a girlfriend or wife isn’t the end all be all to our existence. They are a precious gift to be cherished. At 24 you’re going to want different things than you do now at 17. You’re going to want a woman who makes you want to be better. You’re going to want an encouraging woman, a supportive one, a sensitive and quick to listen woman. You’re going to want a woman that points you closer to God, that challenges you to be better than the day before. You’re going to want a woman that you’re willing to sacrifice for, that you wouldn’t think twice about putting her needs above yours. Those kind of women aren’t found everyday, but they are well worth the wait. That’s why we’re still being patient.
Wait, I’m still single at 24? That sucks.
(Sigh…) Have you not listened to ANYTHING I’ve said?