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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#67: Taking Responsibility

On paper, the last six weeks were the most intense series of unfortunate events so far in my short-ish lifetime. I worked twice as many hours as usual intense pressure three times as intense as before after two senior teammates quit, only to find out the promotion I want more than anything is delayed. The immune system I’ve always been proud of failed me when I was sick for two weeks, likely as a result of the stress. It took getting ghosted when I least expected it to finally see that I allowed myself to date the wrong type of person (with a few exceptions, you know who you are) and be treated poorly. Despite this, I’m incredibly proud of myself for the level of maturity I demonstrated recently, compared to how I would’ve acted just a year ago.

I could be angry and find ways to blame others for any of these difficult situations, especially when it comes to dating. I had my moments, but enough is enough. I had to prove to myself and make the statement that above anything else, I still have more fight in me. I was probably sick, but I decided during 9am spin class on Saturday to run the Boston half marathon the very next morning. When I bought a ridiculous one-piece outfit (my ‘chicken’ suit), my goal was just to finish the race, kind of as a joke. Given the 45-degree weather, pouring rain and 5 hours of sleep I got the previous two nights, I wasn’t confident I’d be able to do it in under 3 hours. However, when I looked down at my watch at mile 6, I was on track for a PR. I pushed through and got a PR of was 2 hours and 8 minutes, partially thanks to the chicken suit. As it turns out, the chicken suit is actually meant for a triathlon, which involves swimming and running, so I didn’t chafe whatsoever, even without the anti-chafing cream I didn’t pack because I didn’t think I was running.

I don’t expect anyone to understand how big of a deal it is to me that, not only did I finish the half marathon, but achieved a personal record (PR) running through a city that made me feel so inferior, yet I still love. I proved to myself that nobody knocks me down. I do my best to avoid competing when it comes to anything I care about, because once I to compete, I’m winning – no matter what it takes.

Speaking more generally, I recognize that I allowed myself to be in each of those situations and I knew the risks. I purposely selected a role that would present me with extreme challenge and responsibility. I couldn’t predict that we’d lose half the team, but I knew it was well within the realm of possibility. No matter how tired or overwhelmed I’ve been, regret has never crossed my mind. I want everyone to know that.

No matter how much I tried to resist it last year or last week, I also knew all possible outcomes of my dating life. I chose to date men in the military over and over, consciously or not. I convinced myself that I didn’t have control over romantic interest, but I was wrong. I’m not saying I can control who I develop feelings for, but I can control who I seek out and choose to spend time with.

I let myself get stuck in the pumpkin patch when I should’ve been looking for an acorn squash. You can’t find an acorn squash in the orange pumpkin patch, and it’s difficult to spot an acorn squash when you’re staring at the entire farm. No matter how perfect a pumpkin is (or isn’t), a pumpkin will never be an acorn squash. In light of this, I’m narrowing the possibilities to the acorn squash patch and being more objective about my choices. There is no perfect acorn squash, nor is that what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the acorn squash whose dents I can work with, and compliment my own.

Before the half marathon, I spent a few days feeling hurt, and then another few days being upset with myself. Today, I have no regrets. I feel a new sense of peace and certainty about the future. These last few years of dating the wrong people will help me appreciate the right person.

I still have work to do, so I did a few things to make it easier: I paid for the premium version of Bumble. There’s a stigma that people who pay for the premium version of dating apps are desperate for matches or creepy. I paid for the premium version for the right matches, not more matches. I paid for the premium version so that I could filter to the demographic I’m looking for. Emotional energy is worth far more than $11.99. There are plenty of great men who aren’t in my target demographic but I’m doing everyone a favor by limiting my dating pool to men that I’m compatible with.

For the time being, dating is no longer emotional. Before I can enjoy an emotional connection, I’m making smart decisions for my future partner, self, and most of all, children. I need to know that potential dates are ready to prioritize a relationship, want a family, value ambition, and either want to be in a similar location, or are flexible with their location. I’m willing to compromise on certain things, too. On the one hand, I can’t believe that I’m thinking about these things right now. On the other hand, I’m relieved to be planning for these things. I’m willing to prioritize dating now and make hard decisions for a smoother future.

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