As a twenty-two and a half year old woman, the outstanding fact that I’ve never had a relationship bothers me. As things go, it’s not a huge issue and I’m aware — painfully aware — that I am not alone in my solo sailing boat, that plenty of my friends and other people my age have yet to resign themselves and latch on to another human being. And I know, yes, I know, that I am ‘still young’; ‘there is time’ and I ‘will meet someone someday’. But, the thing is, in less you’ve dealt with the same kind of levels of self-esteem issues, in less you’ve battled with the insecurities about my body and those that live in my head, telling myself I’m not worth it… Then, piece by piece, build yourself back up and are still left hanging, you won’t get it. And you won’t experience quite how it starts to eat away at all you’ve worked on.
I’ve learnt the hard way not to seek validation in the people you’re falling for. I know that doesn’t work, that the cliché saying of ‘you’ve got to love yourself before you expect anyone else to’ isn’t so completely awful. There’s actually a tragic truth in it that it burns me a little to hear. But, when you’ve begun to reach my age and you’ve seen everyone else, siblings and friends, start their romantic entanglements in their teens, or at the cusp of adulthood, you begin to question whether there is something unloveable about you. Whether anyone will ever see the qualities you admire in yourself, like that you’re a little bit weird in your sense of humour, but you crack some damn good jokes. That you’d never change yourself to fit in or to seem cooler. That you read a lot and you goddamn better believe you read what you like, same goes for music. That you’re a touch dorky and, sure, you’re not blindingly beautiful, but you’re cute and there’s a part of you that can really appreciate those cute odds. And no amount of solid appreciation can be enough in a string of almosts.