By: Claire Cook, Regular Contributor
Image courtesy of Claire Cook. Clan Cook at Mullet Lake!
Family holidays are often bittersweet for me. I’m very close to my parents, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins and cherish the moments I spend with them more than anything else in the world. However, I’ve often felt like I’m out of place as the “single girl.” A true independent spirit who has traveled around the world, accomplished most of my career goals already and never had a serious relationship, I usually avoid the “how’s your love life?” question like the plague.
With the recent loss of my grandmother, the matriarch of our family, and the inevitable homesickness from my move to Los Angeles, I’ve never wanted to fit in with my family more. Over this past Fourth of July, I went to Mullett Lake (yes, that’s the name) for our annual family festivities. After several days amongst the incredible couples in my family, and my crazy cat lady aunt, (the one that every family has) I gave into my envy and my fears and cried. I cried because I’m single and worry that my career will prohibit my greater desire to fall in love and have a family. I cried because I don’t want to become the next crazy cat lady in my family.
After an overdose of self-pity and a pep talk with my 65-year-old and more fabulous than ever mother (she is “THAT GIRL”), I was talked off the ledge. I am ONLY 26 years old! My life is certainly not over, and I’m definitely not past my prime (thank God for anti-wrinkle regimens). When I first graduated from college and moved to New York City, I committed my 20’s to working my butt off and figuring out who I am and what I will/won’t put up with in a relationship. That doesn’t mean I won’t find the love of my life (if that exists) in my 20’s and it also doesn’t mean that my self-discovery will stop as soon as I blow out 30 birthday candles. What it means is that I need to slow down and take the pressure off. As my beloved Grandmother would say, I need to “be present.”
I’ve returned from vacation more present than ever. I don’t want my life to be about waiting for what’s next and obsessing over a checklist of must have accomplishments so I can fit in and feel fulfilled. I do want my life to be about living in the moment, making mistakes so that I can learn from them, and learning to love myself so I can love others. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I know that one day I will look back at this past Fourth of July and laugh at my 26-year-old self while sitting next to my husband and the rest of the couples in my family at Mullett Lake.
About Claire: Claire “Bear” Cook is a regular contributor to I Am That Girl who spends her days working in marketing at a multimedia company in Los Angeles. Having lived in New York City for 3 years and grown up on the East Coast, she moved to LA in 2013 on a leap of faith to build her career and broaden her perspective. Claire is passionate about travel, running, music, karaoke, walruses & wine and enjoys spending her free time with free-thinking, creative & positive people.