REVISITED | In Defence Of Putting Yourself First

A year or so ago I wrote this blog post, all about being single in your 20s and feeling like you were nobody’s priority. I was trawling back through my blog archives today, trying to find some inspo for what to write next and, upon rereading it, was struck by how different I feel now.

In the post, I wrote  about how no matter how many amazing friends & support networks I was surrounded by, I felt alone. As if nobody cared enough about me to make me their sole priority. I linked it back to being single, the fact that you don’t have a natural partner in life to automatically share in those moments with and have that unspoken connection with. I said, “when you’re the single one it can really feel like you’re always shoehorned into the equation, rather than having plans made specifically for you” – pretty depressing, huh? Now at 27, nothing has really changed since then in terms of my relationship status, but my mindset is very different. It may be that lockdown has forced a more introspective reaction from me. Living on my own for 4 months I had to make myself my own priority. I had no choice but to look inwards for that feeling, because there was nobody around to do that for me. Of course, I am forever grateful to my friends who reached out throughout that time, especially my lovely colleagues who went food shopping for me when I was ill, sent me flowers in the posts & generally lifted me up and made me feel supported and loved. They did make me feel like a priority. However, on a deeper level, I do truly believe like I’ve had a shift in terms of how I see things now. I don’t think I’m searching for that feeling, and therefore it comes more naturally.

I guess throughout lockdown I have also felt much less external influence and pressure on me to be doing certain things, or acting a certain way. On the whole, I’m not one to necessarily bow down to peer pressure, but I know that when writing that previous blog post, my head was in a very different place. I was living at home, with a really long commute into work, feeling like I was neither fully invested in my home life, nor my work life; sorta straddling both lines without being able to commit to either. I often missed out on social occasions with friends in Medway, but equally could never get properly stuck into life in Folkestone. Couple that with that ‘mid-twenties crisis’, where you reach the age that, as a teenager, you thought you’d have everything sorted by (spoiler alert: it doesn’t happen!) and you’ve got a pretty perfect storm. Now that I’ve made a decision and moved, I feel like I can be truly present in both spaces of my life and don’t have any of that conflict in my mind anymore. I guess it also doesn’t hurt that there really hasn’t been much going in anyone’s life when you think about the day-to-day; the FOMO moments have been few and far between and it’s been really nice to allow myself to slow down a bit and just take stock. I think it can be all too easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, scrolling through Instagram stories and feeling like everybody has someone but you; whether that’s a best mate, a partner, a child, just somebody to share with. It will be interesting to see how my mind wanders with lockdown restrictions lifting and social occasions opening back up again, but I do know that being able to quieten that external influence somewhat has certainly helped me.

In my previous post, my conclusion was that you should be able to put yourself first, and that should feel enough. But, if I’m honest, at the time of writing that was fairly pie in the sky stuff. I absolutely wasn’t there in terms of my mental state. However, I truly feel like I am now. In my self isolation diaries I’ve celebrated the pandemic (if that’s at all possible) for forcing me to become happy in my own skin and in my own company. As I said in my most recent post, I’ll never know if/when I would’ve got there by myself, but I know this has sped up proceedings. I genuinely don’t really have many of the feelings I mentioned in my original post anymore. That might just be as a result of me simply growing up and getting a bit of perspective, but also I think opening up about it last time really helped me work through it. Those sorta thoughts just no longer really enter my consciousness and  I never really question if I am anybody’s priority anymore, because I don’t feel like I need to be. I think that probably just shows a level of security and comfort in myself that I didn’t have before.

It’s definitely worth noting too that when I originally posted that blog post back in 2019, I had so many responses from friends (and even strangers!) who felt the same; my fellow singletons and also those who were dating, or in long term relationships. So it appears that it’s a feeling that does not discriminate, no matter how things may appear from the outside looking in. At our core, we want to feel wanted and needed and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This blog post isn’t trying to disregard that whatsoever, but simply show that you can still crave human support & interaction, whilst feeling settled too. In my original post I wrote “it’s a fundamental human response to want to feel like you’re important to people and that they’re putting you first. We all crave love and validation, in whatever form it comes, and to feel like somebody has put you above all else is a really pure example of that”, which I still stand by. It is lovely to feel like somebody cares and has prioritised their time with you, because it shows that you’re really important to that person, and who doesn’t want to feel that way? However, if I’ve learnt anything over the last few months its that putting yourself first is the most powerful form that love and validation can take. I know that’s a bit ‘zen’ and wishy washy, and if 20 year old, or even 25 year old Lizzi could see me saying that, she’d rip the shit out of me mercilessly… But I also hope that she’d take a bit of comfort in knowing that these thoughts and feelings fluctuate and that it won’t feel that way forever.

Hope you’re all doing OK! Lots of love, as always.

 

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