What A Thrifted Table Taught Me About Waiting
If you know me, you know I love a good bargain. On Saturdays, you can find me strolling the aisles of the local Community Aid and Goodwill, coffee in hand, searching for hidden treasures.
Earlier this year, I was thrilled to put my thrifting skills to use when I moved into my very first apartment by myself with just a bed, dresser, and small desk. It just so happens that I also started grad school the very next month, so the need to furnish my little place on a tight budget became ever apparent.
I filled my new space with all the adult essentials: a couch, TV, and bar cart of course. As I stared at my TV sitting lonely on the floor, I realized I needed a table for it.
I wasn’t willing to settle for just any TV table, though. I had a vision for how I wanted the room to look, and the table needed to match my “Urban Outfitters on a grad budget” vibe.
My mom, sister, and I spent many weekends visiting thrift stores, but to no avail. None of the tables were the perfect fit for my little apartment. So my living room remained half-empty, TV sitting in the middle of the floor. I took the search to all my go-to sources—local thrift stores, my favorite online shops. Even Target let me down on this one.
Still, I wasn’t willing to settle. I knew what I wanted, and I was determined to wait until I found it.
Then, one day as I strolled through one of my favorite thrift shops, past the pink, velvet couch and old rocking chairs, I saw it. The perfect TV table. It was just the right size for my little space, and its antique charm made me giddy with excitement.
As I set up my treasure in its new home, I couldn’t help but think of the old quote, “Good things come to those who wait.” And it reminded me a whole lot of my current season of life.
Last summer, my boyfriend and I broke up, and found myself single. Flying solo. Table for one.
I knew almost from the start of the relationship that it wasn’t right. We had different expectations, wanted different things in life, and to make it even more complicated, we lived in different states.
But I was tired of waiting. Tired of being single. Done with the questions at family gatherings about why I’m not dating. So I settled on a relationship I knew wasn’t right for me.
And you know what? I was miserable. The relationship drained the life right out of me, and I felt empty, anxious, and confused. As much as I’d love to channel T Swift right now and insert a chorus about all the shitty things he did, I’ll save that for another time.
Even though the relationship brought a lot of heart ache and guilt, it taught me a valuable lesson. As I sat quietly in my living room one night admiring my thrifted table, it hit me. I’m done settling. Done choosing relationships with guys I know aren’t right for me.
That doesn’t mean that waiting is easy. Just last week I threw myself a pity party. As I stood in my kitchen chopping sweet potatoes, I felt the tears stinging my face because I had nobody to share them with. Yes, you can laugh, and no, I’m not usually that emotional.
Sometimes waiting is hard. Sometimes it looks a whole lot like a mini meltdown over some sweet potatoes. But it’s also a season of sweet growth.
During my season of singleness, I’ve been able to spend time on things that make me happy, things that allow me to shift the focus off myself and onto other people, things that make me a better person.
Instead of filling my nights with text messages and FaceTime conversations, I decided to fulfill a life goal and started taking grad classes. Instead of spending weekends driving to New York and leaving feeling empty and sad, I now spend my weekends visiting friends, writing letters of encouragement, hiking, thrift shopping. Heck, I even discovered I like cooking!
As I scrolled through Twitter today, I came across a post that said, “I truly believe a little loneliness is better than a friendship that sucks the life out of you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind or show patience and forgiveness toward those who don’t treat you well. But you can be wise about where you choose to invest your time & your heart.”
Those words are powerful, and you bet they apply to dating relationships.
As I listened to my favorite podcast at work today, I heard Ali Nelson tell her story of rushing into a marriage she knew wasn’t right for her. She talked about being in the midst of a messy season and wanting to hear more stories from other people going through similar things. Stories from people who don’t have it all figured out.
Well, friends, I’m currently walking through this season of singleness and waiting. As Ali put it, I’m in the “messy middle of living life and talking about it.” I don’t have it all figured out, and I don’t know all the answers.
But what I do know is this: you should never feel like you have to settle, sweet friends. A season of singleness is far better than forcing yourself into a relationship that wasn’t meant for you.
You can choose where you invest your time and heart. So invest wisely. Know what you want, and don’t be afraid to wait for it. Though it’s hard, the wait is so worth it.
[Photo by Julie Bloom.]
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- "The Poison of Perfectionism"
- "In Defense of Loneliness"
- "How Corporate Killed My Creativity And How I Got It Back"
- "On What It Means to Matter: An Interview with Author Hannah Brencher"
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