He was my first love and the boy next door, well not exactly but I could see his bedroom window from my house, so close enough. We had been dating for two years; getting engaged seemed to be the next step.
At eighteen I was shy, naïve and my life revolved around my boyfriend. He wanted to get married and have children. I adored him, so I assumed I wanted the same.
In hindsight, I had no idea what I was doing.
When we announced our engagement I was already working and earning my own money. I left high school at 15, completed one year of secretarial training at a local TAFE college and got a full time job. Completing senior at high school or going to university was rare at the time at least for girls. Unless you had a particular career in mind or excellent grades, you either went job hunting or took a course that would allow you to secure an administrative position.
Since I wasn’t aware of what options were available, I chose the secretarial path. As money was tight for our family, paying for any further education would have been an issue. My partner believed as many people did at the time, that a woman never went back to work after having children. Whilst this belief didn’t influence decisions regarding my education, it certainly influenced my thoughts on starting a family.
As much as I loved my boyfriend, I had goals of my own. I’d been planning a holiday to the United States for many years. Though I was earning a meagre wage at the time, I saved a significant amount of money to fund my travel. My partner refused to go.
Despite the fact that we moved in together our lives began to head in opposite directions. My partner had accepted a job where he was on call 24 hours a day. As a result, I hardly saw him. I missed him dreadfully at first. At one point he told me that I needed to be more independent. Looking back that was one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ moments.
I started going out more with my friends. I began finding out what I enjoyed as an individual instead of as a couple. In essence, I started becoming me. It became clearer that my partner and I had completely different interests, hobbies and goals.
Everyone was totally shocked when I went on holiday to the United States by myself. My family, friends and boss were convinced I’d change my mind, considering my partner issued an ultimatum that he might not be there when I got back. I held strong (though I was terrified) and headed off on my big adventure. All bravado aside, I cried for a solid hour once I got on the plane.
That one decision changed the course of my life. It changed my life for the better. My holiday was amazing. I was a different person when I came back. I’d become more confident, outgoing and had a lust for adventure and life.
The relationship ended as soon as I got home and while there were some difficult moments of adjustment after being in a relationship for so long, the break up was ultimately a relief.
Over the years I have made many wonderful friends, moved interstate and overseas, dated and had serious relationships and worked with some amazing people and companies. Travel is still a dominant force in my life. At 37 I went backpacking by myself through South East Asia and Europe for eight months without working. This particular trip filled me with a sense of freedom and possibility that I wholeheartedly embraced.
I decided quite a long time ago, I didn’t want children. I don’t think I ever wanted children to be honest. I felt I was supposed to want them. Different partners over the years wanted to have kids, people expected me to be a mother, so I assumed that was what I was meant to do. Now I have chosen a different path for myself and I am happy with my decision. I know it is the right course of action for me.
In 2006 I started working with a personal coach, which opened up the next exciting chapter of my life. Coaching helped improve my self-discipline, motivation and focus. Now I am much more career orientated. A long buried yearning to be a writer resurfaced and I am working hard to grow a successful business as a freelance writer and blogger.
Today I am 46 and not married. Correction, I am happily unmarried. I live by myself and totally love it. When I first started living alone, I was concerned I would be lonely. Quite the opposite happened. Having a place to call my own after years of living with flatmates and partners was a joy. I revelled in the freedom of not having to answer to anyone, being able to come and go whenever I wanted and having time to myself.
Not once have I thought to myself I wish I’d gotten married when I was young. Okay maybe once when I was sick. I was running a temperature and hallucinating at the time, so that doesn’t count.
My life is currently about growing, learning and exploring and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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