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To live a year free of “romantic pursuit.” That is my goal. Most of the single men I know scoffed with disapproval when they got wind of my decision, even after I explained my reasoning. Honestly, I could not see what the big deal was. I wasn’t dating any of those particular guys anyway.

I’m no man-hater. I’m far from depressed or bitter. I’m not even looking to promote some self-sufficient pseudo-feminist agenda.

I just want to explore me.

I have always thought of myself but behaved in terms of other people. As a child I tailored my behavior to please relatives; everything was done to avoid “getting in trouble.” I stifled the better part of my creativity and swallowed my dreams because they were “silly.” By my teenage years I was behaving to be acceptable to family AND to gain the attention of the boys around the way. When I entered college, I was behaving in such a way to assert my status as a well put together young woman who was going to change the world AND was trying to land a man. I loved the idea of a relationship and felt overwhelmingly inadequate when my girlfriends would swoon about this date and that boyfriend, these flowers and that romantic getaway. Internalize all of that emotional chaos from childhood through college and you’ve got a tangled, emotional mess. I spent a lot of time trying to make myself visually appealing to men. I thought if someone would JUST want to pursue a committed relationship with me, I’d be less of a mess. I’d be…worthy.

In all of that posturing, though, I took a step back and came to terms with the fact that I had failed myself miserably. I failed to really take the time, and the leap of faith to explore who I am, what I like, what I dislike on my own terms and not me + someone else. I had for so long been weighed down with others people’s opinions and ideologies that I had no real ideas, ideologies or comforts of my own. I wore weaves because he said he loved the look on me. I killed my feet in stilettos because those are se*y, right? I was a little less outspoken because he wasn’t really into deep conversation. I choked back any talk of my faith because he hated it.

I had been chipping away at myself and there was little to nothing left. Just leftover scraps that I was trying to plate into a meal for myself. I was starving.

How silly is that? How unfortunate is that?

My ‘Aha!’ moment solidified that I needed a break from the love chase and the “cutie runs.” I wanted to live free of wanting (or needing – depending on my mood) someone to text before bed or craving one person’s affection in particular. What would my life look like if, for a period of time, I distanced myself from seeking a romantic relationship, and just focused on myself? How might my world change if I embarked on a real journey of self-discovery? If I took myself on dates? If I thought of myself on my own terms? If I spoke as loudly and often as I wanted? If I pursued dreams that no one else backed? If I dressed for ME and not to catch someone’s eye?

For one year I’m giving up the boos, the “hims,” the flirty texts, the friend/lovers. Instead, I’ll be re-centering my focus on the project of getting reacquainted with myself on my own terms with nary a man-chasing moment to distract me.

La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.

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