Independence has been my first instinct for a long time. And not just because the idea of being a lone ranger is romantic or appealing. It is just the way it is. Or rather, is symptomatic of my perpetual desire to better myself. I want to learn and do as much as I can! Learn five languages, graduate with honors in whichever programs I choose, participate in stimulating, rewarding internships and fellowships, and always add to the collection of data in my brain. Grow. For whatever reason, a relationship seems incompatible with these aspirations. I suspect it is because I believe my focus will be split between my lover (person of interest? Lady friend? girlfriend? significant other?) and my dreams. Funny that I should set those two as opponents in my head. Rivals. The worry seems to be that if I am happily emotionally and romantically with someone I will rest easy on my aspirations — be content with my situation and not actively work to expand my little mind more, apply for awesome jobs, make and keep goals. Is that hogwash? Knowledge and excellence often seem to be my main loves in life. The welfare of other beings and the planet is somewhere in there. A stern voice in my head has always declared: “focus on your work. A [romantic] relationship would be a hindrance right now. Focus on self-growth right now. Focus on your future.” What I am beginning to realize, however, is that I will always want to improve myself. I will always want to be better. I will always, I hope, strive to be the best I can be. If I do not recognize my drive for what it is, I may find myself avoiding wonderful relationships when I am 25, 30, 40, or even 60. Jeopardizing current and future possible meaningful relationships with others is not conducive to a happy nor successful life, I realize. Meaningful interactions with others and strong relationships bring me great joy. It would be a mistake to convince myself that achieving my professional and intellectual (and ______) goals are impossible while in a relationship with someone I care for. Telling oneself “now is not a good time to be in a relationship with _____ because I have to do x, y, and z” is not okay unless one has tried and not been successful in their efforts to be the person they want to be while with another person. Yes? No? Perhaps walking alone all the time is a misguided act of self-preservation.
I have met a lovely person. Whether we are together for a few months, years, or for life, I suspect I owe it to both of us to be the person I want to be while also committing to our relationship rooted in mutual trust, respect, and caring.
While the idea of the lone wolf is appealing and romantic, the truth is that wolves are (mostly) pack animals. I owe it to myself to keep my mind and heart open to connections with others.