I haven’t posted in over a year, and I don’t really know why I’m posting now.
I suppose that I want to solidify some of the things that I’ve been thinking about, and I want to make my blabbering, craziness into some form of coherent thought. 

Mostly, my life over the past few months has been great. I fell in love with my students this year (again), and they did really well on the standardized tests that we took. I have found my stride as a teacher, and I have found myself completely in love with my profession. I love being in front of 8th graders…I love their energy, their earnestness, their thirst to figure out the world. Sure, I hate their pop culture (#yolo…what the hell? Why should I care who 2Chainz is?), and they are moody sometimes, but they genuinely want to learn how to make sense of this world, and they listen to me. They’re moldable AND independent, and I guess that’s mostly what I like about them. 

My relationship with God continues to grow. It doesn’t grow because I’ve had unwavering faith…I have doubted and questioned and been confused. There have been many things going on in my family (and my extended family) that have made me wonder about the power of God. I have felt myself blocking him out, consciously saying that I didn’t want to trust him today. However, as I overcame those doubts, I’ve realized that He is continuously there, and that only if I listen to His will for me will I be completely whole and find my true self. 

My boyfriend of 6 years (on and off) and I called it quits in September. He is in Maryland, soon to be LA, and I am here in Memphis. There was no sign of us meeting in the middle and living in the same town, so we said good-bye. Long-term long-distance relationships are very difficult, and I think that it takes people who are extremely confident in themselves and in the relationship to make it work. Neither he nor I were confident that the love we had could sustain the time and distance that it would take before we could be together. I love him dearly, but sometimes love isn’t enough. People who think so are naive. It takes compromise and time and so much else. But that really isn’t the point of this post.

After he and I ended things, I started dating. I started putting myself out there more, going to coffee shops to do work instead of sitting in my house, saying yes to social events, and generally just trying to meet more people. I even joined a dating site. I dated several people, one of which I saw for about 4 months, and ya know…None of them were right for me. I wanted so badly for all of them to be “the one I’ve been waiting for.” I mean, c’mon. People from high school and college are getting married and having babies (including those people younger than me!), and that biological clock just started ticking away. Is there something so fundamentally wrong with me that I cannot find a suitable partner? Am I ugly? Is it because I don’t drink, and that I have a big problem dating people who do on a regular basis? Am I flawed in some way? Those were the kinds of questions that were going through my head at the time. I was getting really, really down on myself, and I found myself going out with people that I knew weren’t right for me, just in the hopes that they would validate me, give me some sort of semblance of self-esteem that had just gone right out the window the moment that the long-term boyfriend and I called it quits. 

Thankfully, that time is over, and I have learned a few things about myself and about dating that I find immensely important. I’m not writing these down for any reason other than for me to be able to refer back to them in moments of weakness. 

Things I’ve Learned from the “Dating World“:

1. Never, ever compromise who you are for anyone else (unless you’re a sociopath). I am a person who, while not overly religious or militant about it, strongly believes in God. I do not drink alcohol, and I find myself incredibly uncomfortable dating someone who does. Because those two criteria kind of limit a lot of people out there in the world (and honestly, a whole lot of spiritual people who don’t drink alcohol tend to either be complete conservative idiots or granola-chomping, vegan, pretentious and completely unrelating weirdos who tend to be so self-involved they don’t notice you are in the room), I found myself wavering on those things. When I found out that one guy I dated was agnostic (and not at all curious or seeking), I told myself that it didn’t matter. When another guy I dated got drunk and called me, I justified it by saying that it was OK, he’s not an alcoholic, he can drink as much as he wants, it’s my problem, not his, etc. Even though the third guy didn’t drink, and he meditated every day, he was just plain mean. I thought that it didn’t matter, he had a good heart (somewhere in that hard, cold, lawyer-chest of his…), etc. However, I am looking for a person who is compatible with me and someone who brings out the good qualities in me. While I think that is very important for me to be “full” on my own (which is going to be a lesson in a minute), I do think that the person I end up loving, marrying, and living together for the rest of my life, must help me to grow and to become a better person. Other people probably have other incredibly important criteria….and whatever it is that is important to them, they shouldn’t compromise that, either. 

2. You must be whole in solitude before seeking someone else. Too often, I have found myself and too many other women out there who think that in order to be a complete person, they must seek it in men. They think that they need a man to “complete” them, or that something is fundamentally wrong with women who do not seek to have men be the most important thing in their life. Maybe it’s because I had a fantastic father who told me that I must be independent before I could be interdependent (you can quote him on that), or a mother who taught me how to be a strong woman, but I have never thought that I had to have a man to tell me who I was.

Or, at least, I held this belief theoretically. Sometimes, though, it is very difficult to remember to feed your own self and to take action to grow into the person you need truly are, especially when everyone else is getting married, Cosmo tells me that if I just do this easy thing, I can have a great man in my life! And I truly lost sight of that. DL, my long-term boyfriend of six years, nourished me and helped me to see who I truly was on the inside…I didn’t need him to “complete” me, but I did need him to help me see that who I was is really freaking awesome. Then I lost him, and I thought I wasn’t that awesome anymore. So, I started needing guys to tell me that I was pretty or smart or awesome in order to have self-confidence. When something went wrong, I went down the self-deprecation rabbit hole. However, over the past couple weeks, when I was forced to be alone on the beach in North Carolina with my family…I remembered. I remembered the lessons my father taught me (Independence before Interdependence), and the guidance that my mother gave me (When I told her I want to be a cheerleader, she said that she would rather have me be the basketball star instead of a girl on the sidelines looking to the man for happiness…). 

I remembered that I have to be a complete human being on my own before I can date. Men don’t want a shriveling loser who doesn’t know who she is! Why would they? I don’t want a man who is telling me that he needs me in order to know who he is! Those guys suck, they are needy, and they are annoying. 

3. If you are happier alone than with him, don’t date him. Why in God’s name would I want to spend time with someone who is not entertaining, intelligent, funny, or challenging? Why would I waste the precious and rare gem that is my free time on someone that is boring or stupid when I could be reading a good book or catching up on Mad Men? If I am happier by myself, I’m not going to waste my time anymore. I have realized that I really can be an awesome person alone, and I’ve learned that if he doesn’t challenge me in some way, I’m not going to waste my time. My life is short and valuable (like everyone else’s), and it cannot be cluttered with people who don’t help me grow into a better me. 

4. Look for someone who would be a good father. I’m not saying that I necessarily want children. I have a lot of hang-ups with it, and I sometimes think that I would just be OK with Alvin and Conley (my cat and dog). However, if I keep my eyes open for someone who would be a good father, I get the following qualities: 

a. He is selfless. A father must be willing to sacrifice some of the things that he loves (comic books, cars, sports, his band, or even elements of his career) in order to nourish his children. Does it seem like this fella would actually do that? Or does he get all bent out of shape when there is any kind of compromise when it comes to Monday night football or band practice? If he can’t drop band practice to go see your parents, then he’s probably not going to drop band practice when Ben has soccer game and Clara has a piano recital. And he probably won’t come home early to help you put dinner on the table and put the kids to bed. And I’m a teacher. I’m going to be tired. I’m going to need help. That father sucks. And if we don’t have kids, that guy still sucks. 

b. He is kind. A good father has a big heart for his children, his children’s friends, and his friend’s children. There’s a lot of love in there. And a man who has love for the people, especially for the kids around him, is sexy. Is he kind to you? Is he kind to the people around you? Is he kind to the waitress who messed up our order? Is he forgiving to the old man who is driving really slow in front of you? If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then he may not be nice to you or to your kids. 

c. He is funny. A good father makes their kids laugh. And not with dirty jokes. With silly, goofy, kid jokes. 

d. He is discerning and wise. Does he lack all self-discipline and make poor choices? He probably wouldn’t be a good dad, and he probably won’t be a good husband. Does he suck at giving advice? Probably not for me. Does he blow money on really stupid things and then whine about how he has no money for groceries? He’s not mature, he’s not good for me, and he would be good for no child ever (unless he’s the cool, wacky, and unmarried uncle that every child seems to have). 

5. He’s gotta have a full-time job with benefits, ya’ll. I’m done dating college students who don’t know what they want to do with their life. I’m done with bartenders or waiters or dishwashers. I dated those guys in college. And they are guys. They are not men. I want a man who knows that in order to be a contributing member of society, you need to get up every morning at a reasonable hour (that means 8 or earlier unless you work weird hours), put on clothes that are clean, don’t have holes in them, and match (unless you’re a painter or work in construction) and go to work. You will NEVER be able to relate to me, how hard I work, or what my life is about if you spend 3 hours on Reddit every morning (well, does 11-2 count as the morning?) And for god’s sake, get medical insurance. We are not 20 anymore. 

6. No more indie-hipsters or musicians. Unless music is strictly a hobby.  Do I really need to explain myself here? I didn’t think so.