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How 5 Years Of Being Single Helped Me Become The Person I’ve Always Wanted To Be


There isn’t an event I go to and someone I know doesn’t come to me and ask me those rude, meaningless questions: “Why are you single? Have you met anyone interesting lately? Or Aren’t you feeling desperate?”  And who knows how many more of these questions people have been asking me during these 5 years as I am single.

I honestly can’t understand why some people equate being single with being lonely. Because the truth is, they have nothing in common. Okay, at least, to some point.

Now, before you begin to think to yourself, “Seriously girl, how have you been without a boyfriend for that long?” Or worse, “Do you have such a terrible personality that no one wants to be with you?” let me just quickly explain what my life has been like in the last six or so years.

I was, of course, head over heels in love with my college boyfriend. He was my greatest help and support. He was everything to me. But, soon, things started to change. He became different. He looked nothing like the guy I fell in love with. He broke my heart and we split.

It took me a while to understand what went wrong and what was supposed to happen next, but as time passed, things got easier and the pain eased off.

Next, came medical school. Four amazing years of  studying, meeting new people, making wonderful friendships, and having two unsuccessful relationships. After I finished school, I completed 6 more years of residency training and here I am.

So, when people who I know, including those I meet for the first time, ask me: “Why are you still rolling solo” or “you’re so smart and pretty, how come you are single?” I really don’t know what to say. I hate that awkward pause before I attempt to come up with the ‘right’ answer. I mean, why am I single? Hah, well, it’s certainly not because I’ve gone on hundreds of dates or something, but just haven’t found the right guy yet.

In fact, there were four… one who tried to convince me that I shouldn’t hang out with my friends anymore because his company would be enough for me. And another who sent me some ‘shocking’ selfies and wanted me to do the same.

Then there was that one guy who was a control freak, he even controlled how many drinks I had when we went out in clubs and how many times I hung out with my friends. And another one who respected me so much that he dumped me on his best friend’s wedding.

I could answer in a lot of ways, but would I truly believe my answer? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m single because I’ve been busy with all the school and work stuff or because I’m just focusing on getting myself situated before I think about dating someone.

For sure, I could just  answer people this way although I know that their response would be: “Oh, well, don’t worry, you’ll find someone soon” or “Good for you,” which is even worse.

Good for me?! I mean how can this be good for me? I’ve forgotten how it feels like to cuddle with someone, feel their warm, comforting hugs, and feel like they love and respect me and want to be with me. I haven’t had someone to kiss me or hold my hand and proudly tell the world how happy and grateful he is for having me in his life. It’s just been me.

I feel the worst during the holidays when all couples spend the day together celebrating. Whether it’s Christmas, Easter, or Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but remind myself that I haven’t been in a relationship or anything close to it for five years. I haven’t had someone to call me at the end of the day and tell me he missed me.

But, no, I’m not going to elaborate anymore on this and make myself sound miserable because the truth is – I don’t feel that way.

I have a loving family, amazing friends and career. I’ve invested in myself these past five years. I have my dream job and I’m financially secure. But, most importantly, I have invested these past five years’ time in understanding who I am and what I really want and need in life.

You know, being single can sometimes be tough, lonely, and even depressing. But, these difficult times are just a phase. Being single is neither a curse nor a death sentence, and I know this the best.

Being single enables you to see yourself from a different, objective perspective. You get to see the depths of your soul and discover new things about yourself. Being single helps you learn who you are and what you really need and want in life. It enables you to invest in yourself on both personal and professional level and become the person you’ve always wanted to be.

You know, I’m not going to pretend I am glad I haven’t had any worthwhile relationships in my life while trying to accomplish one or two important things since my last breakup. It’s been lonely, and it has been difficult and I still have no idea why it has been this way. However, I do know that I am an entirely different person than I was when I was 20 years old.

I also know that the time I’ve invested in making myself the person I need and want to be has and will continue to benefit me. 

And whoever wins my heart next will have the pleasure of knowing and eventually loving someone who has enough confidence and strength to have held her own for so much time.

So, until I find the right guy, I’m going to keep telling people that I’d rather be alone and independent when they ask me why I’m single or try to encourage me to find a boyfriend. Most importantly, I’ll know that I’m okay with not having someone to kiss and tell me “I love you” before I go to sleep.

So, for all of you out there who think that the time you’ve invested in yourself was just a waste of extremely lonely time, please, know that you’ve made it and succeeded on your own for all this time …and that is more than a lot of people can say.

Riley Cooper