As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in the first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Paige Mariah's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
My last relationship was a whirlwind.
And not in a bad way. But in the best way possible.
When we met, he told me upfront that he had applied for the Peace Corps and would be leaving in a year to serve in The Gambia for 27 months. Though I had my reservations, I allowed myself to let my guard down and really fall in love for the first time.
Man, we had such an intense romance. It almost felt as if our love was on a timer, so we were always looking for new and exciting experiences together to make the most of the little time we had left. Sometimes we would even take sick days together from work, just so we could be in each other's presence longer.
As his time in the States began to wind down, I knew that I had to start to figure out what was next for me, before the heartbreak completely consumed me. My relationship became my primary source of happiness when everything else around me felt so unsure and complicated. What was I going to do once he left? He was choosing himself and I felt like I needed to do something big and exciting that would benefit my own life as well.
If he was able to drop everything to follow his dreams, why couldn't I?
Courtesy of Paige Mariah
I'm a digital content creator by trade, hailing from the suburbs of Chicago. I attended Hampton University and returned to Chicago to begin my career once I graduated. Though I had a 9-5, my 24/7 was digital content creation—from written blogs to YouTube videos to building my social media presence. I've always been passionate about sharing my experiences in hopes of helping others.
After four years at my job, I was feeling extremely stagnant and my love life was just as unfulfilling. I just felt something was missing in my life. Though I wasn't happy in my career, I was slightly convinced that once I found true romantic love, that emptiness would begin to be filled. Then, it felt like all of my prayers were finally answered with my last relationship.
So, to feel this way, suddenly meet the man I prayed for, and have it was all ripped away from me...I was destroyed.
But even though I dreaded losing him, a major part of me always felt he was very brave for making the decision to leave everything to pursue his passion. He seemed so sure of himself and his decisions, whereas I overthink and often second-guess myself. How can I not admire that? He forced me to realize just how much I was holding back in my own life. And although London always had been the city of my dreams, actually living there never felt quite possible or realistic. But I didn't care. I stripped myself of my fears and decided to go for it. I applied to grad school and prepared to move to London.
We broke up about two months before I was scheduled to leave, which I thought would be enough time to heal and get over him. So when I arrived, I started dating almost immediately—probably like the second week of being here. I got into a new situation with a really great guy, but then the honeymoon phase quickly ended. He had no idea what he was getting himself into and neither did I. I found myself acting so out of character. I was mean, snappy. Everything he did just seemed like the opposite of what my ex would do and it would irritate me. I told myself that maybe this was because I hadn't given myself the opportunity to "multi-date" and really enjoy the single life.
During my spring break, I went on a 10-day tour around Europe. I climbed to the top of a mountain in Switzerland, did paragliding in Austria—basically having the experiences of a lifetime, but yet I still felt so incredibly sad. I was convinced that I just missed my ex, my home, my comfortable life. I finally accepted that there was some much-needed self-work that needed to be done. Immediately.
It was time to work on my relationship with myself.
I took an official hiatus from dating and ended things with any guys pursuing me romantically. I stopped relying on "good morning texts" for comfort or being "chosen" by a guy as reassurance. I needed to figure out why being alone was so scary.
To combat this, I spent a lot of time alone; taking walks, listening to audiobooks and podcasts that focused on manifestation, positivity, and self-love. These forced me to face deeply-rooted issues and insecurities that I never even realized that I had. I knew this was the best thing I could have done for myself.
When you lose control of the reasons someone is no longer in your life, your mind is filled with millions of irrational thoughts. I would frequently ask myself questions that negatively affected my mental health.
"What are you going to do with yourself when he leaves? Will you ever find anything as good as this again? How much longer will it take for me to start over with someone else to get married and start a family one day? Will he fall in love with someone else who can relate to his experience in a way you will never be able to? Would people think I wasn't good enough to make him stay?"
Ladies, we have to stop doing this to ourselves.
After my little hiatus, I developed a totally different perspective on dating. I now feel less pressure and stress when it comes to finding "the one". I don't settle anymore. I once felt like I had to come off low maintenance and agreeable to find love. Now, if I realize that a guy isn't what I want, I just move on.
Courtesy of Paige Mariah
I am complete by myself.
Of course, I will always enjoy and desire companionship and love. But approaching dating this way just feels so much lighter.
Things are looking up for me and I feel the happiest, and sometimes even emotional, when I'm doing something as simple as walking down the street or grocery shopping. I still look around and can't believe that I really live in London. I just feel so grateful for how far I've come, how blessed I am to be living this dream, and how much I've been able to grow over the last year.
I feel closer to my purpose than I ever have in my life. And honestly, couldn't ask for anything more.
To keep up with Paige, you can followher on Instagram and subscribe to herYouTube channel.
Featured image courtesy of Paige Mariah
Originally published on January 14, 2020