1. Live alone. As hard as it is to live alone, you get to know yourself in an extreme, intense, and deeply satisfying way. It teaches us to live happily in solitude. It provides quiet to think. It allows us to become self reliant. I lived alone for 6 years before we got married and I believe, if nothing else, that time provided me a great deal of confidence in my ability to survive.
2. Quit your job. It feels so good to take a job and shove it (and not be affecting anyone else’s livelihood). It doesn’t seem as irresponsible to up and quit when it’s just your mouth you’re feeding. So if the job isn’t right for you, get out of there. Don’t waste another minute – this is your life we’re talking about.
3. Fly to a foreign country by yourself. I was nervous on my first solo trip to Mexico, even though now I almost always have to travel alone. You learn so much about who you are in how you handle foreign currency, foreign accents, and foreign chaos. It’s a cultural adventure and doing it alone, without worrying of checking in, when to call, and when to be back, is quite exhilarating.
4. Spend a weekend with a married couple your age. Listen to how they speak to one another. Notice their non-verbals. Ask about the rhythms of their daily life. Make a mental note: marriage is not perfect, nor is it the solution to what ails you. Be happy for your married friends and satisfied in where you’re at today. Know that many of us stay single forever, and that’s great. Life is about community, food, faith , travel, relationships, and love. Not just marriage.
5. Take a long trip with your best friend. Plan a trip you won’t be able to take once you are married because your spouse will either: a) want to join or b) not be able to survive the time without you. You can backpack through Southeast Asia, staying at random hostels, or couch surf your way through Western Europe. I have a friend Jeddidiah Jenkins who over 18 months (right now) is riding his bike from Oregon to Patagonia with a few of his close friends. Get out there and go.
6. Be completely, utterly, wholly single for at least three months. Stop trying to date someone constantly. Fast from the hunt, from the hope, of another person coming into your life. Sit fully into your singleness and see what you find. Hopping wildly from one relationship to the next can do you a disservice. You’re never more ripe for self-reflection than when you’re on your own — and the more you know yourself, the more likely you are to find someone who’s right for the real you.
7. Be a good wingwoman or wingman (and watch Top Gun). It’s not always about you. Sometimes your best friends need your full-on support in their pursuit of risk and romance. Finding someone to love and putting yourself out there is not easy, but with a good friend at your side who eloquently drops the high points of your resume during a conversation with an exciting suitor, it can become much less complicated.