Recently, our very own Coach Britt got engaged. Instead of gushing about her exciting life ahead, she wanted to reflect on how she got here, and share her wisdom with others. This is her account of how she took advantage of being single.
I loved being single.
As an engaged woman, that probably isn’t something anyone expects to hear from me. I always wanted a real relationship, of course. I knew there was someone out there who I would want to spend most of my free time with. But I didn’t want to spend my whole life waiting. Limbo doesn’t suit me.
I spent about five years being single prior to meeting my fiancé. So trust me, I really do understand the struggle of balancing where I was with where I wanted to be.
As it turns out, being single was a blessing.
Instead of hyper-focusing on my relationship status, I decided to focus on bettering myself as a person so that if the day came when I would be a wife and mother, I had a repertoire of skills, tools, and knowledge to prepare me for that role. I knew life would only get busier – and while it would still be possible to tackle them once there, it would be EASIER to start earlier. I wanted to be proactive, and if marriage didn’t come to fruition, I would at least reap the benefits of the fruits of my labor. So my five year journey was jam packed to say the least. And that’s what I want for you. If you’re single, make sure that you are focusing on yourself instead of a “potential” mate. To get you started, here is what I chose to focus on in order to take advantage of being single:
I spoke to a Financial Advisor and found easy ways to eliminate a huge chunk of my student loans, which I finished paying back in February (YAY!). We all know debts are a *pain*, so not having that to worry about has been a HUGE blessing. I didn’t have any credit card debt, but the process is pretty similar according to many of my female friends.
Most marriages struggle, and sometimes even end, over financial hardship. Taking care of what you can now is the smartest financial decision you can make. I also learned about better retirement plans, home ownership, how to teach kids about income, how to plan for college, and how to properly save, give, invest and spend with generosity and wisdom. I learned all of this through the financial peace university workshop, and am so glad I took it.
Now as I embark on marriage, I can rest easy knowing that my finances are organized and I won’t be burdening our first year with debt. If I hadn’t taken this time to concentrate on the unpleasant process of cleaning up my finances, I probably would be bringing debt and chaos into my marriage. It may not have been the most exciting endeavor, but trust me, it’s worth it.
I started taking my health more seriously because 1) I’m important (lol) and 2) If I was going to add other people into the mix, their lives were going to be greatly impacted by my health as well. So I slowly but surely began to make my health a top priority. I learned how to cook more than the southern-styled meals my mom taught me (which weren’t the healthiest, but man were they good!), and learned how to make fun, healthy, and TASTY meals. It was a complete lifestyle change.
Best part? I felt better and looked better. Plus, let’s be real, having more energy would also come in handy once married too if you know what I mean (wink, wink!).
While I’m all for couples creating a dynamic that works best for THEM, I believe men and women should both know how to cook (for survival…at least), clean, sew, do laundry, have the fundamentals of basic home repair (i.e., how to change a toilet seat cover, how to check a smoke detector, etc.), basic car repair (how to change a tire, how to refill fluids, and how to change the oil, etc.), and how to budget for the home.
It took me a second, but I can safely say that I’m pretty well educated in all things domestic. Chores aren’t fun, but they can also pile up and create a rather scary dose of resentment in a relationship. I would rather get my hands dirty than open my relationship up to that kind of a vulnerability.
Point is, life can throw anything at us. It’s not beneficial to either party to remain ignorant when it comes to household duties, because there’s always a chance either one could become the single head of the household in a matter of minutes. Knowledge is power.
At one point, because I was so busy waiting and focused on being a wife, I couldn’t tell anyone what I liked to do for fun. I didn’t have many interests of my own, and I wasn’t nurturing the ones I did. I struggled to verbalize my passions and determine how I could pursue them in my work or in my play.
My mom reminded me that I wouldn’t stop having a life once married, and lovingly encouraged me to get back out there and discover things I enjoyed doing. I started to invest in myself, and in others. There were a lot of opportunities for outreach, many of which were sooo much fun.
I believe that every spouse will eventually need a break, and each spouse has an identity and purpose, so learning that early on was extremely helpful. So go out and enjoy the night life with your friends.
5. Role models
Relationships are WORK, and I knew I was going to need a role model in the form of a current wife/mother, and in a married couple I admired to provide me with sound guidance. There was going to be buckets of knowledge that they had acquired that would no doubt work to my benefit, so I sought out a mentor in a woman who reflected the image of what I believed a wife should be. And I’m so glad I did because she provided much wisdom, advice, and much encouragement as I patiently waited and kept on living.
I dealt…with… my baggage.
And not going to lie, there was a bit of it from a previous relationship that I didn’t want the next guy to suffer from, so I dealt with it.
I dove into my spirituality and took accountability for where I had gone wrong. I changed my thinking. I chose to be more positive and it opened my heart and mind to all of life’s possibilities, which renewed my hope. I learned to love and like myself. I started seeing myself for who I was, and began to let go of the unhealthy comparisons. And I took the time to value my friendships and familial relationships. I knew from past experience it was all too easy to neglect those, so I began nurturing them more in hopes that that habit would be in place and stay in place.
Being single forced me to come head to head with control. All I wanted was to be in the right relationship and start my life with someone. But I had to accept the fact that I was not in control of that timeline.
So I learned to let go.
I accepted that the more I worried or tried to force things, the more I found myself in unpleasant predicaments, wound up, and making silly mistakes. I decided to give the one thing I desired the most over to God, and that was one of the HARDEST things I’ve ever had to do.
However, it forced me to realize that up until that moment, I hadn’t ever fully trusted Him enough to give Him that which I treasured the most. I was okay with Him handling other things, less important things, but not that. I wanted to control that because I wanted to control the outcome.
Because honestly, I wasn’t always in favor of His outcomes, and I definitely wasn’t always a fan of His timing! But the moment I did, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, and eventually, I found myself here:
Engaged to the man I did NOT see coming, and who’s much more than I thought to affirm or pray for.
He’s BETTER than what I envisioned and expected in so many ways, which let me know that despite my struggle of letting go, God ultimately had something better in store. I just needed to trust the journey and process He was taking me on that was leading me to become a better version of myself.
I want you to love being single too, because it will set the foundation for your next chapter in life.
I know these things might not work for everyone, but I hope they can at least inspire you to take advantage of the time you have just for yourself. There is so much you can accomplish that you will thank yourself for later. If you need any guidance, suggestions, or encouragement, that’s what I am here for. I’d love to help you capitalize on this time in your life.