What happened when I stopped thinking I needed a boyfriend

Waaaaarrrrning! Personal Post here. The kind of post where the title is fairly indicative of the content that will follow. The kind of post that gives you just a little too much insight into my personal life that I have nonetheless decided to share with the wild web. Why do such a thing, I hear you ask? I choose to share my thoughts and ramblings in this ‘journal’ section of my blog to reach out to others and help put our thoughts into words. Sure, you might not agree with me. But with a title so indicative of the content that will follow such a title, you can by all means choose to stop reading now. But before you go, this post is for all girls – single girls, in-a-relationship girls, i-want-him-back girls, and sworn-off-men girls. Hell, this post is even for boys.

A little over a year ago was the last time I changed my Facebook relationship status. Yes, I am from generation internet. Shortly thereafter, exactly one year ago today, was the day I booked a one-way flight to London that would have me leaving Australia (forever?) some two months later. Prior to my departure, I had never really been a serial dater. I had had two serious relationships in my 22 years of living and a string of highschool boyfriends… pretty ‘normal’ in the realm of dating, or at least that’s what I told myself. But somewhere along the way I had come to depend on others for my happiness. If I was in a relationship I wasn’t particularly happy in, I’d convince myself the pros outweighed the cons because I needed that person. I feared change, despite knowing it was the best thing for me. I feared being alone. I feared being the late bloomer whilst all my friends were coupling off in droves. I feared the idea of being a strong, independent woman because I was led to believe (mainly by mainstream media) that strong women would end up alone because men found a woman’s strength and independence intimidating and perhaps even unattractive. But what happened next couldn’t have been further from the truth…

WOW in NYC

Standing there in the thick of it all, knowing no one and no one knowing me… I could be any version of myself. I could better myself. I could rid myself of my past mistakes, faults and indiscretions… and be a better version of myself. Not just for now, but from this day forward.

Somewhere along the way amidst my endeavours to please others (particularly one other), I had lost myself. The things that once made me happy were no longer capable of doing so. I became stuck in this downward spiral of self-criticism. I kept wanting to change my exterior in an effort to change my interior and I never saw any of this as a bad thing because I was merely of the opinion that everyone else was doing it. Whether we admit it or not, for far too long we as women have become reliant on the approval of the opposite sex. Whether its a matter of our appearance, our whit, our intellect or our achievements, we have all at some stage become reliant on how we are perceived by others, particularly the opposite sex.

So then I flew to London.

Since flying out to London, I have visited all 6 inhabited continents around the world in a non-stop journey to find my feet. From the little things such as packing my suitcase every few days, waking myself up with an alarm after two hours sleep, getting biceps in one arm from carrying 30 kilograms of luggage up and down metro stairs, to dealing with situations when they inevitably go wrong… each and every step this year has been with my own two feet. 

Sometimes I have chosen to catch a cab instead of the (much cheaper) public bus because it’s 1:00am and the last time I wandered the streets alone after midnight with a suitcase in tow, a homeless guy followed me for three blocks until I reached my hotel. Sometimes I have phoned home in a pool of self-pity to describe how someone had stolen hundreds of dollars from me. Sometimes I have come so close to booking a flight home that my credit card digits were entered and ready for the final purchase, when a knock on the door came with a flower delivery from a reader who had thoughtfully seen my dispair and wanted to reach out to say how thankful they were that someone else was travelling the world for them, because they couldn’t take the time off work to do it themselves.

…So it hasn’t always been hard & it hasn’t always been easy. It has been a roller-coaster ride, as is life for each and every single one of us, it has just been a roller-coaster travelling at lightening speed where I have seen, done and experienced more than many will in their entire lives (for which I am eternally grateful for). But the one thing it has been is independent. Slowly but surely I managed to ween myself away from the idea and notion that I needed someone else… anyone else. It was something I needed to do for myself in order to know myself better, understand my limits and expectations, handle my emotions so that now nearly nothing can phase me, and challenge myself so I’m never left wandering what I could have been capable of in life.

Brooke lake bled slovenia

All of this is not to say that we should live and die alone.

We shouldn’t. 

But by forcing myself to stand on my own two feet and not rely on anyone else for their approval or disproval, I have allowed myself to actually grow into the person I was capable of becoming. Had I have not taken the plunge and hopped onto that flight to London, I can honestly say I don’t think I would have ever become the person I am today.

brooke saward

In life we learn with age that we don’t necessarily have just one love.

Generally speaking I believe this to be true, though I have met a 60 year old lady who married her boyfriend she met at the ripe age of six and has never known any different. This is what we call an exception to the rule. All power to her.

But just like our fashion sense, physical appearance and musical preference changes over the years, so do our feelings toward people we love and have loved. Change is healthy. Its natural and evolutionary; it makes life interesting. So for the most of us, you will love more than once. You will also love and lose… its all part of the deal when you go in head first, knowing that whatever you just got yourself into will either make or break you eventually.

brooke cesky

But regardless of whether you are in love, hate love, long for love or really just don’t even think about it at this point in your life, the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. And to learn to love yourself first will inevitably lead to the ‘right’ kind of love in the long run. You will in turn become the truest and most happy version of yourself. You will know what you like as well as what you don’t like and you will be confident enough on your likes/dislikes/thoughts/beliefs to be able to stand by them. You will have your own opinion. You will fight for that opinion in a healthy discussion, rather than side with another’s view simply because you aim to please them. By loving yourself you allow yourself to be loved for who you arenot who you intend to be.

& that’s what I learned this year.

Brooke Saward polaroid

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