By: Allison Annala, IATG ContributorJuly 6, 2016
I’ve been struggling with a crisis of conscience lately. The short story version is that I’ve spent quite a long time figuring out who I am. An I AM THAT GIRL junkie to the core, I’ve worked tirelessly to discover what it means to be the best version of myself, and I think I’ve done a pretty great job.
You see, I used to be quite co-dependent. I couldn’t get a haircut, choose my clothes, or decide which classes to take without consulting 10-12 of my closest friends. I was about the furthest away from being a self-sufficient human being as you could get. I couldn’t text a boy without first reading it to my roommate, and I most certainly didn’t enjoy spending any time alone. Alone = Loser in my mind, and I was hell bent on proving I was just like everybody else.
Only I wasn’t like everybody else. I knew who they were. I had no idea who I was.
So, I dropped the act. I started a chapter of IATG, and I worked my butt off to figure out who I was, what I wanted, what I needed, and what I didn’t. I was tired of pretending I knew all of that information already, because, in all honesty, I didn’t have a freaking clue. So I learned how to get vulnerable. I was vulnerable with myself, vulnerable with my chapter members, and vulnerable with all kinds of strangers via the IATG blog. I spent the next two years dating myself. I would take myself out for dinner, rent a movie just because, stay out late with a group of friends, or go to bed early because it was what I needed. I wrote… a lot and got very in touch with my feelings. I made art, planted flowers, and took lots of trips to see people I loved.
I never went on a date with another human being, and it was awesome.
After two years of dating myself, my relationship was pretty amazing. I was finally comfortable with myself. So comfortable with myself that I began panicking any time a potential suitor would express interest in me. I’d instantly feel like I was being smothered (not super fair if you think about the poor guy who just wanted to buy me dinner). It was an instant defense mechanism, like I was hiding something sacred behind a huge wall that no one dared to break down. I think what I was really protecting was my independence. Independence is something that I never knew I needed, and now that I have it, it’s hard to imagine my life any other way.
But is dating someone really sacrificing my independence? I’m not sure. It’s definitely scary to consider inviting someone else into a life that has been exclusively mine for a long time. I know I’m afraid of sharing myself with someone else. I also know that, eventually, I would like to find someone to share my life with. I think that I’ve been using my own relationship with myself as a reason to not take risks with new people. I’m pretty sure that’s not wrong, but it’s certainly not the right way to open up to new opportunities either. Perhaps I’ll open up to someone new, just one person, and build from there. One person can’t be that scary, right? Who knows… maybe I’ll open up to someone who turns out to be MY PERSON. Maybe not. No matter what happens, all that time spent getting to know myself was entirely worth it!
Are you afraid of opening up to another? Well today’s the day to get a little vulnerable. Try sharing something small with a trusted friend or potential boyfriend/girlfriend. Take baby steps and show the world and those around you just how magical you are.
Allison is a huge advocate for girls and women, particularly when it comes to body image and self-worth! She coaches gymnastics and teaches at her Alma Matter, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Visit her blog www.allison-lifeisbeautiful.blogspot.com.