11 things I've learned in my (almost) 31 unmarried years

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This month marks so many milestones for me. I turn 31 (how the hell am I 31?), Dan and I get our marriage license (!!!), and it's my last full month as a Saoud. I'm overwhelmed with anxiety and emotions (for instance, I started tearing up on my way to work today just thinking about marrying Dan next month), but it's mostly in a good way. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking back lately about how amazing my 31 unmarried years were. Don't get me wrong... I am over the moon excited to marry Dan. But, there's so much I take away from my time as a single lady, and I wouldn't change a single moment of these years for anything. 

Here's what I learned in my 31 unmarried years: 

1. I knew myself as a single person. Not only did I know myself as a single person, I liked myself as a single person. I knew who I was and what was important to me. And now that I'm no longer a single person, I feel like I've taken the best of those things and brought them into coupledom. 

2. Living alone is kind of awesome. I distinctly remember a few nights after my roommate Krissi moved out, I was alone in the house and I heard a noise. At first, I was scared. And then I realized that if something bad was going to happen, it was going to happen, and I couldn't be scared every time I heard a bump in the night. These were formative years as I learned to live alone and love it. I'm grateful I had that chance. 

3. Veering from the life plan is okay. I didn't follow the life plan I thought I would. For a long time, I lived under the assumption that I was going to marry my high school boyfriend as soon as we graduated from college. For me, that wasn't the right choice. Many people can get married at 18 or 20 or 22 or 25 and be blissfully happy forever, but for me, I think it was important that I had the chance to grow in to myself first. If I'd gotten married at 22, I never would have had 80% of the experiences I had in my 20s... experiences that live in my fondest memories. 

4. Trips with only girlfriends will lead to tons of adoration and said fondest memories (see #3). Except the hungover memories. Those I did not love. But traveling with four girlfriends to Las Vegas (and again, later, with three girlfriends) and two girlfriends on a cruise to Key West and Cozumel were some of my most favorite vacations. If anyone says you can't have friends who are also soulmates, that person is dead wrong. My girlfriends are the other pieces of me. 

5. Dating the wrong people is okay. I dated the wrong people. The WAY wrong people. But I took something away from every single person who wasn't right for me. Sometimes, I learned about the way I wanted to be treated. Sometimes, I learned about the way I definitely did NOT want to be treated. I learned what was really important in a partner, and what things I could let go. And I also learned that there are a lot of idiots out there. :)

6. Making a mistake is okay too. I made mistakes. Quite a few mistakes. I don't regret a single one of them. 

7. Heartbreak doesn't equal destruction. I got really hurt by someone I really thought I was going to have a future life with. At the time, I was devastated. But it made me come back a far stronger person. The Angela I became after that breakup is so much better than the Angela I was before. I am stronger, smarter, and more loving because of it. 

8. Our parents are always right. We are born and grow up thinking our parents know EVERYTHING. Then we become teenagers, and there we believe our parents know almost nothing. But as I've grown into an adult, I've learned more and more, my parents really do know everything. My mom always told me someone wonderful was out there waiting for me. She was SO right (and, by default, my dad is always right too!)!

9. I crave alone time. Don't get me wrong -- I love being with Dan, my family, my friends, talking on the phone, being in public, etc. But I'm just as happy at home, by myself, doing things I like to do. In fact, I need it for my sanity.

10. I fell in love with exercise: running, Jazzercise, and barre classes. I started Jazzercise the summer after I graduated from college and knew immediately that I was in love. It was the first exercise program I'd ever been able to stick to. And nine years later (eight as an instructor!), I'm still totally in love with the program! Running fell into my lap five years ago. I put one foot in front of the other and never looked back! But if I'd had a family, I don't think I would have found the time and energy to train for the two half marathons I've run. Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying it's impossible to run halfs and have a family, but I feel like my priorities wouldn't have been focused on me. These exercises are necessary for my sanity, my creativity, my energy, and my happiness. 

11. Everything happens for a reason. I know that phrase is cliche. But I don't care. Every single moment in my life has led me to a life I've always dreamed of. Every single moment led me right here. And I am incredibly blessed to be on this journey. 

I lived. :)


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