Friday, January 11, 2013

My single years after college, part 1

The first couple years out of college were tough. I had no real plan for my career so I moved closer to home and took the first job I could find while I figured things out. It took me two years to decide what I wanted to do and to jump on an opportunity. During those two years, I suffered from depression. My job was stressful, I had left my friends in Minnesota, and I felt no pride or accomplishment with my life, which is something I need to feel fulfilled.

Out of my small group of close friends from college, two of them got married during this period. One, right out of college, and another after a very short dating and engagement. I always knew that she (the latter one) would be very "intentional" about her relationship whenever it happened, but it surprised me to see her get married within one year of their first date. With me living 5 hours away, I barely knew her fiance. They seemed like a good match, but as the wedding date neared I found myself wishing something would cause it to be called off. After the wedding, I cried as I drove myself home, because I felt that I had just lost my best friend. I knew that her serious nature and beliefs about marriage would cause her to change once she got married. And I was right. She stopped confiding in me and sought out married friends from church. When we met up, she was no longer free to do as she wished. Everything had to go through her husband first. She quit her job and never started again, so we no longer had work to relate on. I simply wasn't ready for our relationship to change, at least not so soon.

My own views toward marriage at that point was still the same: waiting for God to bring along the right one, whom I hoped would be as abstinent as I was. I didn't do anything to try meet people. It was too hard with my crippling self esteem and depression. As I watched everyone I knew from high school get married, I grew increasingly self-conscious about my single virgin status, but there was nothing I could do about it as far as I could tell. And I got pretty good at not caring. Over time, perhaps as a defense mechanism, I came to see myself as someone who would never love. Romantic love didn't exist for people like me as far as I was concerned. It made it much easier to be single and enjoy the things I did have. Looking back, I wonder if I simply wasn't ready for an adult relationship. I'm really not sure. Even when I eventually did come out of my depression, I still identified myself so closely with singleness that when I did find love at 28, I was consistently baffled to find myself falling into romantic cliches that I had seen my whole life but never allowed myself to think could be for me.

In an exciting decision, I moved out to Denver with a friend, where we were both planning to attend grad school. This move made all the difference in my life. I was 24. I had a fresh start with a new job I actually liked, a plan for my future, new friends, and a new church--one that was quite different from the conservative churches I'd attended my whole life. Within a couple months, my depression was gone. Moving that far away from my family, church and college friends would prove to be the distance I needed to find out who I was, what I really wanted out of life, and gave me room to question my beliefs.

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