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Ask Ogonna: The romance of autonomy and its importance

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Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna or ask her at ask.fm/askogonna


You know those couples that take cute pictures at quaint little coffee shops that you are sure don’t exist in the real world and have tear-jerking captions that you know took them hours to devise, but you still get sappy fawning over them?

This post isn’t for that couple.

This is for all of the single citizens of the world who, while on the road to finding true romance, are learning how to be happy by themselves.

Truth be told, whether or not you are in a relationship, there will come many difficult times when you will be alone. Your emotional stability will be tested, and you might not even have a friend to call. Distance can cause separation anxiety or emotional trauma, and you have to be okay handling things on your own.

When it comes to preparing for relationships, I think dating yourself is probably one of the best yet most underrated things you can do while you’re single.

Yes, I truly mean going on a date by yourself. That means plan a cute outing or activity you envision for a date with a significant other, get all gussied up and go out by yourself. And while you are out, minimize your phone usage — after all, you wouldn’t want a future date texting, now would you?

I suppose this notion of dating yourself sounds a bit offbeat, but I stand by the idea that embracing autonomy allows for introspection, self-development and self-love.

My real life example would be a few weeks ago when I had to work on campus over winter break by myself. As a self-prescribed introverted extrovert, the first day was torture. I was excited to finally have time and space to myself, but the eeriness of an empty building was as overwhelming as my lack of motivation to do anything. I had nobody to talk to or convince me to go work out or accompany me to meals; no one to impress with my outfit, no one to confirm plans with, no one to tell me what to do.

But in the end, it was exciting to go for a run for myself or out to dinner simply because I knew it would be good for me. I realized that being comfortable with autonomy goes deeper than relationships and friendships. It’s a boost in self-confidence, a way to ensure that with or without anybody by your side, you can achieve all you want and be happy doing so.

Who you are while single is amplified that much more when you are in a relationship. So, start getting to know yourself. Go see a movie by yourself and feel connected with strangers as you laugh and cry at the same screen. Try out a new restaurant and treat yourself to dessert. Hold yourself to high standards so that when you do start dating or commit to a romantic partner, you know how you want to be treated, and you won’t find yourself settling for less than what makes you happy.

True love starts with knowing yourself and loving who you are. Who better to love yourself than the one who knows you best?

(That’s you.)

Here’s to hoping we all find true love, whether that manifests itself in a romantic relationship, and here’s to learning how to love ourselves more and more, day by day.

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