If I’m being totally and completely honest, my main goal in life has always been to find ‘The One.’ This may come as a shock to some, because I know I come off as incredibly ambitious. But my ambitions were merely a distraction from my lonely reign of singledom for seven long years. Although, if my goal really was simply to meet the love of my life, perhaps I shouldn’t have chosen a career path like musical theatre… Anyway, I digress. Before my lovely fiancé Adam showed up, I focused a lot of time and energy on relationships. When I wasn’t in one, I was looking for one. When I was in one, I was trying my hardest to fit a square peg in a round hole of my ‘ideal man’ and prove this guy was the one. Anyone who’s been single as long as I have is privy to the experience of all of your coupled friends giving you sage advice on how to find the love of your life and be happy just like they are with their partner.
First off, let me address something very important. Finding yourself in a relationship in no way makes you suddenly an expert on relationships. It’s not a prize you earned because you somehow figured it out and your poor single friend didn’t. People jump into relationships for lots of reasons, and sometimes they aren’t the healthiest. But, it is so hard as a person in a relationship not to smugly smile at your single friend, pat them on the shoulder and say, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll find someone.’ I’m guilty of that one myself. For any friends I’ve done that to before, consider this my public apology. I thought since I spent the better part of my 20s perpetually single, and have in fact found myself with a lovely man I can confidently call ‘The One,’ it would be fun to go over the advice I got from friends and see how it all panned out… Let’s go!
‘You’ll find him when you’re not looking’
I remember me and my friend being puzzled by this one. Our lives were so full and busy, I remember her saying ‘How much busier do I need to get? Do I have to buy a chia pet?’ It’s so funny to think the one second you announce ‘FUCK MEN’ the love of your life is going to perk his ears up, interrupt the conversation he’s having with someone and run through an airport to find you and fall hopelessly in love with you. That’s how that romantic story goes, right? I don’t know if I can honestly say I ever stopped looking. Sure, the dating apps would come and go from my phone, but I think my little beacon was always sending a signal through the ether that I was looking. Even those rare moments where I wasn’t looking, I would immediately think, ‘Oh my god! I am totally not looking for a guy right now! I’m probably gonna meet him soon!’ and then immediately be looking all over again. So do you have to magically find yourself in such a state of perpetual bliss that you forget the existence of romantic partners altogether? I don’t think so. I do, however, think there is a benefit in your life to releasing the choke hold around any goal, dream, or ambition.
Trying to remember back to the day I met Adam, I wasn’t looking in maybe the ten seconds before I got a text from my friend wanting to set us up. But that’s it. Just two weeks before I was trying to convince myself this awful man who very clearly hated women was potentially the one. I’d imagine telling the story of how we met, ‘Well, the first night I stayed over he popped a Melatonin and put in ear plugs and immediately destroyed all opportunity for heartfelt pillow talk. But, oh, once he came around he was so considerate!’ So obviously I’d learned nothing and was still on the hunt.
Whatever happens, meeting the one will always surprise you. But it’s not the actual meeting that’s the surprise. The surprise is the ease with which you two get together. You suddenly try to see each other as often as possible, and text without worrying about scaring them off, and have sex when it feels right, and become exclusive when that feels right. It all happens so easily that us coupled folks may look back and think we weren’t looking at the time. Because frankly, we didn’t know what we were looking for. Until you’ve been in an equitable, loving relationship, it’s hard to know what that feels like.
‘You have to love yourself before loving someone else’
Y’all. I love myself. I’ve been feelin’ myself for a looooong time. I’m a generally centered, confident lady. Of course I still look in the mirror woefully poking my ‘stomach pooch,’ and I sometimes still worry what people think. But my insecurity has always been that I was the best and no one noticed. So, I loved myself the whooooole time I was single. And look where that got me?! What I would say would be valuable is the same thing I say for any goal, dream, or ambition. Get happy NOW. Thinking that a relationship, or that promotion, or that fancy pair of shoes is going to single handedly make you happy is, I’m sorry to say… not true. I met Adam, the love of my life, we very quickly fell in love, and suddenly all of my romantic anxieties vanished… and reappeared in other parts of my life! You can’t escape them! Nothing external will solve a problem. So, no, the secret isn’t loving yourself. The secret is enjoying your life now. Especially if you’re single. For all you know, you may fall in love with a man who hates dancing like I did. So enjoy it while you can! And have fun dancing alone because you might be doing it alone forever thanks to the wet blanket you just fell in love with. I kid, I kid. But truly, what do you do that excites you? What makes you happy? Not only will you magically be happier, but you’ll also be an interesting AF person to date. And in case your future love doesn’t have similar interests, you can enjoy them by yourself anyway. And if your life is already full and happy and you know you don’t need a relationship, it would just be a cherry on top of a beautiful life sundae… then let me say, I don’t know when this person is coming, but DANG they’re gonna love the crap out of you.
‘When you meet the love of your life, you’ll KNOW.’
This is half true. Like I’ve said before, dating ‘The One’ or a good partner for you is easy. It should be easy. I’m not referring to external obstacles like living in different cities or having opposite schedules. I’m saying it should feel easy in spite of that. When I met Adam, he told me that very night that he travels a lot and I’d have to be okay with that. He was leaving for a three week contract in nine days. We saw each other six out of those nine days, and by the end he had already initiated a conversation about exclusivity. He was on a cruise ship with terrible service for three weeks, and we still managed to stay in contact every day. That is the ‘easy’ I’m referring to. Any games or withholding from either of you as a way to ‘win’ the other person is a bad sign. I have never had any doubts in my relationship about how this man felt about me. He made it clear, and he still makes it clear every day. He’s not insane about it. We aren’t hopelessly addicted to each other. But each step of our relationship has felt easy and inevitable. And I personally think that should be the bar.
Now, for the part that isn’t true. Is meeting the love of your life like a lightning bolt into your heart, the music slows, a light shines down from above, and a chorus of angels sing ‘There they are!'? ...I don’t think so. And I think waiting for a lightning bolt to magically show you the way in any aspect of your life is dangerous. If anything, my ‘knowing’ about Adam started with a tiny tickle the night we met, followed by days of anxiety. Adam was so clear in his affection for me, and I was so used to having to decipher the tiniest of text messages and signs from other men that I was scared. I was terrified that this guy was falling for me and I may not feel the same way. I was afraid I was going to hurt this sweet guy who my friend set me up with. And then I had a conversation with our matchmaker friend that I remember clear as day, and everything changed. He asked how things were going, and I said ‘It’s good, but he plans everything out and he paid for everything on our date.’ My friend shrugged and said ‘That’s because he’s a man.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but he wrote down my birthday and my favorite flower.’ And he said, ‘That’s because he’ll forget.’ And for whatever reason, my friend’s nonchalance cured my fears. I had another date with Adam, asked more about his ideal day and what he wants out of life, and started to fall hard for him. Even then, it would take another month for me to truly know he was the one. But still, a month is preeeetty fast, and plenty of people have taken longer to acknowledge that. So you see? Lightning bolts do not equal love. They usually equal some pretty serious sexual attraction, and I would get on that if you can because life is short! But don’t confuse that with love.
‘Make sure they’re a good partner’
Okay, this is my advice. I know, I know, I’m doing that thing that couples do to single people that I absolutely hate. But if there was one thing I could say to all single friends, it would be this. The love of your life, your life partner, your husband, your wife, whatever. They won’t just be a relationship. They become an entity and a foundation in your life. What I love about Adam is we always refer to the life we are ‘building’ together. And I think that’s the best way to think about it. To take all romance away and be completely practical… How are they with money? How would they be if either of you lost a job? Would they be there for you if you’re terribly sick? What kind of parent will they be? (If you want kids…) How will they be if we have trouble having kids? How do we fight together? The happiest of couples can be stopped dead in the face of these questions. Because a life partner is different. It’s not very sexy, but knowing Adam is good with money is a huge plus for me. And knowing we would both be able to figure out life without a job or help each other through loss is a huge deal. The vows may be outdated but ‘in sickness and in health’ and ‘for richer or poorer’ are there for a reason. Life is a big MESS. And a lot of stuff will get thrown at you. Some you will see coming, like the loss of a parent. And some you’ll be completely blindsided by, like a loss of a job. Can you still stand the sight of your partner through all of this? Could you two not only build but rebuild together? Those I think are the key questions to keep in mind. And neither of you may be equipped for those right out of the gate, but take a good long look at your partner. Do they support you no matter what? Do they lift you up? Can you ask them for help or support? Can they ask you?
And if there’s any thing I can say on the other side of being in a relationship I could tell little ol’ single me, it would be to worry less. If I had just gone out, met people, enjoyed their company for as long as it was right, filled my days with fun and friends, it would have been so much better! Maybe you’re not as obsessed as I was with meeting someone, and I hope you’re not. The big question to ask yourself is, if you know that this relationship is for sure happening, what would you do today? Would you worry? Or go enjoy yourself? So go do a dance party for yourself today, listen to your favorite songs, and know that your partner is there. And guess what? They’re looking for you, too! Don’t worry, you’ll find each other (I smugly say as I put my hand condescendingly on your shoulder).
Apparently, you are supposed to announce and declare your WAGs (Wildly Audacious Goals). This is not only garners support from your friends and loved ones, but it also holds you accountable to ‘doing what you said you were going to do.’ I’ve repeatedly read in a number of self development books that declaration is step 1. So, what better time than my first blog post ever? I, Katie Bland, want to be a best-selling author, and a motivational speaker in the world of personal development. That’s a scary thing for me to admit, but ‘scary’ in this sense that I feel a tickle of excitement knowing it’s true and it’s right. It’s been quite a journey to get me to this conclusion.
Ever since I was eight years old, I’ve wanted to be an actress. Lucille Ball was my first inspiration and my hero. And my over-achieving ambitious self started that dream early by filling out an application to Yale Drama as a third grader. From that moment on, instead of spending my summers playing outside and my winters skiing like every other Coloradan, I was in an air-conditioned dome in the middle of Boulder putting on musicals with 100 other kids. And I was good. Eventually I earned the coveted status of ‘professional actress’ in the Peanut Butter Players’ Lunch Bunch. This company boasts prestigious alumni such as Sutton Foster and Celia Keenan Bolger. I thought I was clearly on that same path to stardom as well. I had it all mapped out. First, I’d perform at Boulder Dinner Theatre. Next, I would move to New York and perform on Broadway (an easy step between local dinner theatre and Broadway, I’m sure…) Then I’d naturally move into film, and win my first Oscar in what I dreamed would be a period piece so I could have the best costumes. I even had a little ‘bit’ planned for my acceptance speech. I’d wear a dress with a long slit, and during my thank yous my finely toned leg would coquettishly slip out as if it had a mind of its own. I practiced my interviews on the Rosie O’Donnell Show in the shower. I fantasized about who my first celebrity boyfriend would be (Luke Perry). I wanted to be a star and I had been preparing since childhood.
This is where my mom would say, “God laughs when you make a plan.” In the end I didn’t actually apply to Yale Drama when the time came. My heart had fallen into musical theatre, and I went to Webster’s Conservatory Program in Saint Louis. And I didn’t perform at Boulder Dinner Theatre, but my first gig was a children’s tour—which is the well-known rite of passage for recent BFA graduates. And I didn’t get to Broadway (yet) but I did make it to Off-Broadway in a show I both loved and loathed. And then, the craziest thing happened. My dream changed.
It is hard to admit, and I know a lot of people back in Boulder still think I’m a star, but I took a look at what it would actually mean to perform on Broadway and… it didn’t feel right. I didn’t want that lifestyle. As we get older, I’ve found my friends and I become more concerned with what our day to day looks like. When I had my first date with my fiancé I asked him about his ideal day. Both of us were similar and craved a peaceful day with yes, some work, but neither of us were competing in the olympics or winning an Oscar. We were reading and drinking tea in our dream home. Of course, I still want to accomplish wildly amazing things, but I quickly realized my drive to be a star was not going to cut through the hustle and grind that is required to become a successful actor. I didn’t want it enough. Changing dreams can be hard. If anyone is as ambitious as I am, leaving a pursuit behind for something that excites you more can feel an awful lot like ‘quitting’ or ‘failing.’ It took me two years to forgive myself for this change of heart (future blog post on this later). And who knows, I may want to perform again one day, but for now, we are on to my WAG.
Since leaving that dream behind, I’ve started looking at what other creative pursuits I may enjoy. I will always consider myself an artist and a creator, as I think all of us are, and I wanted to find something that could light me on fire again. And what’s something I love talking about, thinking about, and reading about as much as I love performing? Personal growth! Spiritual journeys! Dreaming big! Reading or listening to a personal development book has been a part of my daily routine for almost four years. Some I’ve loved, some I’ve hated. Some I’ve integrated, and some I haven’t. But boy am I passionate about it. And boy, would I love to help other people dream big and go on their own spiritual quests!
But Katie, why would I read and take advice from YOU?! Good question. On my journey to find what the hell else I was gonna do with my life, I looked at becoming a life coach. As far as I can understand it as a layman, it’s like being a therapist, but without the degree, and you get to tell people what to do a little more instead of that pesky ‘listening’ thing. Sounded like a dream job to me! As I dived into the various programs available, most came with the disclaimer ‘You’re going to have to work on yourself first before coaching others.’ Website after website was very subtly telling me to get my proverbial shit together. And some may think that I actually currently have said shit together. I’ve been able to financially support myself living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, I have a successful network marketing business, I’ve found myself in a healthy romantic relationship, and I have enough energy and time to write a blog. I’m #adulting, everybody! But I’ve also gotten into an embarrassing amount of credit card debt, I’ve taken longer than I wanted to grow the aforementioned network marketing business, I’m writing this blog post in the time I had scheduled for ‘business admin,’ and I ate an entire box of Thin Mints last night. See? It’s all about perspective.
This blog will be a super honest look at my own spiritual journey. The successes and the failures. Hopefully, some of it will be funny, because I find humor the best form of healing. And hopefully, you can connect with it, too. This blog is a step towards a dream that one day this could transform into a book that Oprah loves so much that I’ll be interviewed in a Super Soul Conversation. Are you there, Universe? It’s me, Katie. Make it happen, please. But what would be even more exciting and fulfilling to know is that someone read this blog, totally related, and took one step towards positive change. If that’s my legacy, then I’m a happy lady. Enjoy, and I hope you take this journey with me. What is your WAG? Has it ever changed?