I genuinely do not know where 2014 is going; June is more than half over, and that means we’re already halfway through the year. It also means that it’s now been more than six months since Stacey and I broke up, and I am finding it easier to talk about how my life has changed.
My parents split up when I was a teenager, and one of the lessons my mum drilled into me in the following months and years was that I should never feel obliged to stay in a relationship if it wasn’t 100% what I wanted. She told me time and time again that there’s no point trying to be selfless when it comes to relationships, because if it isn’t what you want, in your heart, then you’re really just wasting time; both yours and the other person’s. I think it was this support that my mum installed in me that gave me the courage to sit down with Stacey and talk about how I wasn’t sure that our relationship was the right thing for either of us. It wasn’t easy, but it felt somehow right. I think that was the point that I realised that there had been something missing for me for a while.
I don’t want to give the wrong impression; I loved Stacey, loved my jobs, loved Edinburgh. I look back to my life then with fondness and a whole lot of great memories, but at the same time I do wonder whether I tried to settle down just a bit too early. Stacey and I moved in together when I was 21, and our lives became very ‘grown-up’ very quickly. By last winter, I was finding myself bored more and more often – which led to lots of trips to Essex, or mini-breaks, or visits to see friends – anything to break up the boredom of a 9 – 5 and weekends spent doing laundry and grocery shopping and DIY. It just wasn’t what I expected my early twenties to be.
To be fair, I didn’t expect to spend my mid-twenties in a tiny town on the east coast of Scotland either, but life has a way of opening doors just at the right time every now and then. I’m really lucky to have returned to St Andrews and found myself in touch with a group of people I first met eight years ago, when we started the same undergraduate modules. It’s awesome to leave my office each evening and wander back to my home (all of about 200 meters away) and find that I’ve been invited to watch the football at the new union, or that there’s a mass game of Cards Against Humanity going on at a friend’s house, or walking into the pub and seeing that people I know have taken over about two thirds of the bar. I’m definitely an extrovert, and it’s made me realise that part of my issue with Edinburgh was probably just that I didn’t have a big enough group of friends who were right there. The joy of living in a university town is that there are so many people here my age, all studying or researching exciting things, and it’s so easy to bump into a friend-of-a-friend and suddenly realise that actually, you’re probably academically related. #StAndrewsproblems.
A few people (my mother included) have asked me if I’m seeing anyone new recently. The question has surprised me, because dating has been the last thing on my mind. My life is so awesome right now that in order to date successfully, I would have to meet someone who completely blows me away. When things are this good, I just don’t find myself looking for another person to slot into my life. I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m moving forward without the need to replace the relationship that ended. It was bizarre at first – not having someone who’s always there, who knows everything about me, from my favourite chocolate (Kinder bars) through to my preferred name of future children (no chance I’ll be putting those online at this stage!). But that’s gradually been tempered by conversations with people who don’t know anything about me; the chance to tell stories that older friends have heard over and over, and listening to their stories.
Some days I look back to where and who I was only six months ago and it feels like fiction – something that happened to a girl I knew, but not me. I just feel so comfortable in my skin right now; and I think part of that just comes from being relaxed in where I am in my life. So I’m almost 26 and I haven’t bought my own house; I’m not a senior member of management in a big advertising agency; I’m not engaged and planning my wedding. My twenty-one year old self would probably be shocked at the fact that I am completely okay with all of these things. I’m happy. Right now, that is more than enough.