Summer – represents the three months in Michigan when you can wear your favorite sandals and dresses and when you don’t mind your hair still being wet from your wash-and-go. Summer means it’s time you go hard in the paint at the gym because you certainly didn’t do any of that January through March. Summer is the time for warm weather, hanging by the pool, Bar-B-Q’s, and sleeping with your window open when a thunderstorm rolls in. While summer is a season of so many great things that many of us look forward to all winter long, it also is a gentle reminder that some of us silently loathe - it’s a time of summer crushes and new romances getting ready to bloom in full force.
The summer of 2013 was a summer of change for me. I had to prepare myself, because I knew the endless Facebook and Instagram posts of couples out enjoying their summer together was getting ready to be blasted on my timeline. Blowing kisses to one another on paddle boats, taking usies at concerts, traveling to a white sandy beach sipping on their pina colodas – sounds amazing doesn’t it? Well for a newly single woman, I can’t say I was that excited for the summer. Of course, I was happy it was warm, I enjoyed hanging with my friends, but in the back of my mind I was scared. Not only was I scared to start over, but I was also scared to live. Seriously, I had been in a relationship so long I had to learn how to go to a movie by myself. Yes, I was that girl. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t lose myself in my relationship. However, after being in a relationship for nine years I did get comfortable in having someone there to always do things with, and when you’re friends aren’t as single as you, your options for hanging out get real small real quick. Therefore, I had two choices - find some new friends that were also unattached with lots of free time or learn how to do things by myself. I decided to challenge myself and do both.
I wanted to stop freaking out about my newly single-solo-dolo status and instead focus on everything that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The summer of 2013 was my summer of rebirth. I wanted to stop focusing on the fact that I was no longer someone’s girlfriend and instead focused on becoming a GOALfriend. That’s right! What is a GOALlfriend? For me it meant becoming my own best-friend. It meant learning how to truly encourage myself, be supportive of myself, and set new goals for myself immediately. I found myself not feeling 100% comfortable doing certain things by myself like traveling, or trying out the latest glass blowing Groupon, or going salsa dancing. I came to the realization that I was putting my life on hold waiting for other people to join me. That’s not how I wanted to live! I realized I didn’t have to wait for a relationship to go to see the movie I wanted to see. I didn’t have to wait for my friends to go with me to check out the new exhibit at the DIA. I wanted this summer to be different. I wanted to take the summer to create a better version of myself and to do that I focused on five things. I encourage you to look at this awesome season you’re in and challenge yourself to step outside of your comfy box, try something new, set goals, and live the most intentional life you possibly can.
This is the time for you to be a little selfish. Deepen your relationship with God. In our singlehood we have the opportunity to give God our undivided attention. Use this time to discover who you are and whose you are. Once you begin to feed your spirit and your heart, then you will want to make sure that you’re feeding the mental, emotional and physical part of you as well. Stop spreading yourself thin. Get that facial you keep putting off. It’s been far too long since your last pedicure, get one! Get in shape and work on becoming your most healthy self. Stay committed to self-care, something we often times forget to do with all the noise, hustle and bustle of life swirling around us. This summer commit to learning more about yourself, your interests, your dislikes, your aspirations, your growth areas, and your goals.
You can’t be your own best GOALfriend if you don’t have goals you’d like to achieve over the summer. Stop putting yourself on hold and set achievable goals and commit to completing them within the next few months. Stretch yourself! I wanted a big change so I decided to cut my hair…well at least I considered it a cut. Most people would consider them to be layers. You might be thinking, that’s not a big goal, but for me, at that time, they were. I took myself out on movie dates, of course they were matinees, but I went to a movie alone and by the third time I didn’t feel completely awkward. Your goal might be as simple as reading three books, making sure you eat breakfast every morning, or finally asking your boss for a raise. Your goals don’t have to be huge - remember to start small, be specific and clear as to what you want and when you want to do it. The more details you have, the more likely you will be to follow-through.
Be a Bit of a Wanderlust
There is nothing better than traveling to a new place and learning about other people and different cultures. You may not be comfortable traveling internationally by yourself and that’s completely fine. This is a perfect way for you to reconnect with good friends and create new memories. Domestic travel is just as great! It may be a 6 hour drive to the state next door or an hour and a half ride to a city nearby – travel is a great way to go on a new adventure and gain a new found freedom for channeling your inner wanderlust.
Meet New People
While it is important to pour into those friendships that you have already built and established, it is also important to continue to meet new people. One of the easiest ways I was able to do that was by joining a kickball league. I didn’t know anyone on the team, but over time we became a little family. We went to Karaoke on Wednesday nights after our games and even would hang out on the weekends. My initial goal was just to do something that was active and fun. I had a blast that summer due to the new friends I added to my circle. You definitely don’t have to join a kickball league, but you should put yourself out there, get vulnerable and begin connecting with a few new awesome people.
Use your summer to not only do things that will empower you, but use this time to do for others as well. Give back to your community, volunteer with the youth, serve on a ministry at your church, tutor local students. While donating clothes and shoes to Goodwill is great, I’m sure you will eventually will start wondering how can you make more of an impact - I know I did. Start by making a list of causes that are meaningful to you. I made a list of 30 Thoughtful Acts of Kindness. I did everything from donate old dresses to high school girls for prom, to donating money for charity, to creating hygiene bags for the homeless. It’s easy to keep the focus on ourselves. I was heading into that summer with selfish thoughts and self-serving wants. I was more concerned with everything I needed to do to prepare myself for love again, that I forgot the true meaning of love. 1 Corinthians 14:4-7 shows us that love isn’t about receiving it’s about giving. I encourage you to stop looking for love and start giving love. We all want to be loved and once you realize that you are unconditionally and irrevocably loved by God, that’s when you know that with this life we have, our goal shouldn’t be an end in itself to make ourselves happy. Our goal should be to do our part in the Kingdom loving others and being servants of love.
While these are just a few ways that I was able to become my best GOALfriend, I encourage you think big. This is the perfect time for you to create a bucket list and start checking things off day by day. Habbakuk 2:2-3 reminds us to write the vision and make it plain. By focusing on yourself and your new goals I can guarantee that you will learn how to hold yourself accountable. You’ll start to feel energized when you begin to see all that you’re accomplishing. Most of all, as you pick goals that are meaningful to you, you will start to see more direction and focus in your life. Goal’s are life’s roadmap to living a more confident and fulfilled life. So, set some incredible goals for yourself this summer and enjoy all the fun and success that comes your way.
Original article can be found in Volume 1 Issue 2 of Advance Magazine