I was ready to get married long before I was married. Long before I was even close to getting married. Long before I had even come close to meeting someone worth marrying. I wanted the marrying part. My friends were all married. My siblings were all married. All the random people in the aisles at Target were all married. For God’s sake, where the F was my marriage license and wedding band and guy that came with it all?!
Good thing I had smart people all around me to teach me how to catch a man. The secret, they all said, was to just stop looking for him. Because all that really needs to be done to find the love of your life is to stop thinking about finding the love of your life. To start focusing on other things. Like work. And travel. And yoga. And fun trips with girlfriends. And then poof, Love Of Your Life just shows up. On cue.
And how did they know this? Because a friend of a friend of theirs totally gave up on finding the love of her life and went off and bought a one-way ticket to Switzerland. And then, swear to god, a week before she’s supposed to leave she meets Future-Husband in a bar.
So what did I do? I went off and bought my own house. I gave myself my own perfect space and my own perfect yard and my own perfect patio for enjoying evenings alone. And I started running marathons. And filling my time with training and conditioning and long runs. Because who needs a man when you can enjoy all those things all by yourself?
And then, of course, I met my now-husband. And, I too, became a friend of a friend story. A success! More proof! Just stop looking, and you’ll find it! Stop wanting it so bad, and it will happen!
It’s a beautiful story. It’s a wonderful example of just living life. It’s also complete bullshit.
Sure, by all appearances, I did go out and buy a house and get in shape and get the hell on with my life with or without a man. And then poof, I found him.
But that poof was three years. Three god damn years. And, while I might have tried to convince myself and those around me that I had stopped desperately looking for the love of my life. Not once did I actually, honestly, successfully stop.
I closed my eyes to the need to find a man in the same way that a four-year-old hides their eyes when playing hide and seek. No, Guy Down The Street Wearing a Red Sweater Who I’ve Already Mentally Re-dressed In a Tux and Perfect Boutonniere, I’m not paying any attention to you.
And I went on dates. So. Many. Dates. Terrible dates. Decent dates. Good dates that later led to short and bad relationships. And in my heart, I was always still searching for him.
And that friend of a friend of a friend who was days from moving to Switzerland before she found her man? I don’t know who the hell she is. But she didn’t really stop looking either. Because if she had actually stopped, the stories people tell would be about her drinking Schneider Weisse at the base of the Alps rather than her buying a pretty white dress.
The truth is, you can’t just turn your brain off from thinking of and searching for the thing you really want. You can only distract it for a little while.
And for the last little while, I’ve distracted my brain very well. I’ve taken a leap of faith, I’ve started my own business, I’ve struck out on my own to write. Thoughts of babies and embryos and my uterine lining have been pushed aside to make room for thoughts of accounting software and networking and gaining new clients. And so by that old friend of a friend story model, I should be knocked up by the end of the month.
But I won’t be. And those old familiar baby thoughts? They haven’t gone away either. They will never go away. No matter how hard I try and kid myself, they will always be there. Not that that stopped an old co-worker of mine from telling me about her friend of a friend who gave up trying for a baby so that she could focus on her business for a while, and then poof, ended up pregnant.
These friend of a friend, just-stop-thinking-about-it-and-it-will-happen stories are complete crap that we need to stop sharing. We need to stop telling each other these terrible lies. We need to stop making people feel bad for focusing on something they really want for themselves.
Because it’s okay to think about what you really want in life. It’s okay to look for it. It’s okay to try to make it happen. Because who the hell ever got what they really wanted by ignoring the fact that they wanted it?
And you know what? It’s also okay to let your mind wander to other things that will make you happy in the meantime. I don’t once regret buying my own house. I don’t regret a single mile that I ran. And I doubt I’ll ever regret breaking out on my own to write.
But I’ll never convince myself or anyone else that shielding my eyes to focus on those other things is what magically made my real dreams come true. Maybe, just maybe the only way to get what you really want is to face it head on and make it happen. Despite what that one friend of a friend might say.