Alone And Learning Still - 10.02.00

While on vacation a couple weeks back with some friends, we were discussing different relationships and secrets and whatnot. I was talking about the first person that I'd gone out with in college and then started talking about how after the relationship had ended, I started going out with someone again soon after that. As I kept talking, I realized that there were actually only very brief times while in college that I wasn't actually dating someone, and as I thought about it, it gave me a lot of insight into my personality and decision-making at the time.

To give you an idea of my ways in college, let me give you the super-fast rundown on my four years there. Please remember to keep in mind that previous to college, I only dated one person and that was only for about a one month period of time. I was a newbie to dating and considering things, I basically still am at the ripe old age of 25. Anyway, when I went off to college, it actually took me awhile to actually start seeing someone. I had my fair share of freshman crushes, but nothing panned out until one month before the end of the year and that was with someone that lived approximately 1000 miles away and was graduating. We went out for several months (over the summer) but it ended slowly and I broke it off literally hours before I began seeing someone else.

That continued on for a couple months, then it ended and I was single for approximately 2 months before starting to see someone else. Again, it was near the end of the school year and we kept up writing and whatnot, but things didn't continue on in the fall. Which was really OK, since I started seeing someone new that very weekend. This time, I had a longer relationship and after about 7 months we called it quits. I kind of started seeing someone right before the end of the year (only a couple weeks later) and again the summer break came.

Once again, the relationship didn't continue after the summer, but I was seeing someone again only 2 weeks later. (notice a cycle yet?) I continued seeing this person right on through to the time that I myself graduated from college and that was that. There was even a point in the last relationship when I was cheated on and I should have ended things, but didn't, mainly out of feelings that I didn't want to be alone.

About 1 year out from college, I began seeing someone again that I'd gone out with in college. We went out for about a year and a half (my longest and most involved relationship to date) and since ending it last fall I've not technically seen someone since. Now, that first year out of college wasn't me being alone by choice. As in college, I was completely in the mood for dating, but I was completely out of my element. Instead of being located in a college atmosphere where it was easy to meet people, I was in a new town with no friends and although I found different girls attractive or interesting, there was no common element for me to use to bridge that gap. I felt lonely and alone much of the time and sulked about my situation instead of thinking about things a little bit more and realizing where the problem was.

In this past year, I've had a lot of time to myself again and over the course of those 12 months I've realized that the problem wasn't one of my being out of my element or out of college or anything else; it was something with me. Looking back to my college years (and especially my senior year) and after, one of the major things I realized was that I didn't have much at all in the line of self-confidence. Although I tended to be more outwardly confident in myself (read; cocky) over the course of those 7 years, and although I had fleeting moments where I would believe in myself, it almost always seemed to come back down to someone else re-inforcing that idea within me. During the times when I didn't have that person backing me up and telling me that things were fine or that I talented, I'd go into more of a withdrawal from my friends and even slide into what was probably a mild depression.

Call it co-dependence if you will, as it may have been. As I look back and retrace my actions and words, it feels like many times I was just putting up a front and if that front were to get damaged, I'd need the words of someone else to help me build it back up again lest it fall completely.

And so I've spent a lot of the past 12 months in reflection and although I've gone out on what I would consider dates with several different people, I haven't "dated" anyone. It's really strange because unlike the past (when I would be ready to jump into a relationship after being alone for only a week), I'm content to just meet different people and learn about them and have meaningful discussions and talks. As for me, I'm still going through a time of serious self-reflection and one of trying to build up sort of a confidence in my abilities, thoughts, and self in general.

Don't get me wrong. I still go through periods of extreme self-doubt and even ones of depression (which I'm sure make themselves known on this site), but instead of needing that person who is constantly there reassuring me and telling me that things are going to be fine, I have myself. It's a much longer process of persuading myself the very same thing, but each time that I manage to do just that, I think it helps to make me that much stronger of a person. I know that sounds really cheesy, and I'm trying to stay away from quoting motivational phrases or anything else, but it's really how I feel. And that's OK, darn it.