Mary Ruland | @IRuleThisLand__

For as long as I can remember, I was forever single. I had moments of complete satisfaction being alone. Other times, I found myself swiping right on dating apps,  hoping to find a perfect match. Through it all, I always seemed to look at relationships as something I could do, but not something that would make or break me. I managed to find my own way around in this world, and having someone along for the ride seemed nice, but not a necessity.

Being single gave me time to decide what I really wanted in a partner. As the early 20s came at me full force, I looked for someone who could make me happy overall. In college, I was thrown off when I realized not everybody was willing to commit to a serious relationship like I was. I found out who I was as a person, which included what I was willing to wait for—someone who would accept me for who I am.

Being by myself seemed like the best option. Nobody to answer to, and nobody to hold me back. The immaturity of men I had dealt with in college disgusted me. That’s when it dawned on me how important it is to have time to be on your own.

You understand and look at life in a completely different way, and value yourself and the choices you’ve made that got you to where you are. Being single so long and giving myself time to come to terms with past relationships brought me the closure I wanted. The best part? I was able to give that to myself with no validation from anyone.

Once I had this revelation, I stopped searching and concentrated on myself and what I wanted out of life. And as fate would have it, I finally stumbled upon something, or someone, worth my time.

One fall night, I made eye contact with a guy at the bar (cliché, I know) and thought to myself, “Well that’s a strange feeling.” It was this overwhelming urgency that I wanted him in my life. Long story short, we bonded over “The Walking Dead” and our love of Tombstone pizza, and he renewed my interest in a potential relationship.

Many people who begin new relationships say their significant other changes them for the better and they can’t imagine life without them. For me, my boyfriend compliments me and gives me support, but I have seen life without him, and it was pretty darn great. Being single for so long showed me how amazing someone loving you unconditionally is, but loving yourself is even more important. If you don’t care about your own soul, you can’t expect to give your energy to someone else’s.

Someone is called your other half because they are a piece of your life, but not your whole life. You should never sacrifice your own goals and ambitions, because at the end of the day you’ll be left with nothing to grow within yourself. I am forever grateful for the single years in my life. Being single never defined me, but the lessons I learned strengthened me to wait for the beautiful love I have now.