As a young lady I always fantasized about the day someone would come and sweep me off my feet. I pictured myself falling head-over-heels in love with a tall, dark, handsome, God-fearing man, who would one day get down on one knee and profess his unending love for me. Then the scene would fast-forward to some elaborate wedding, with me in a perfectly-cut low-back white lace dress draped over my perfectly 12-month gym-toned body, and us dancing the night away like we were the only ones in the room. Then we’d steal away into the night while our guests danced on none the wiser, rushing back to our candlelit honeymoon suite to be together for the very first time…

I’m sorry, I can’t even type this with a straight face. Albeit the reality that my marriage will probably be consummated in some back room while the reception is only just getting started (because no one really has the time to wait for candles and fluffery in this day and age), this piece really has nothing to do with sex or waiting till marriage to have it (which I’m still an advocate for – someone print me a t-shirt). It was all just a clever ruse to get you here… creative license and all that.

But I meant what I said at the beginning: I did have those daydreams as a young lady where I was waiting for Prince Charming to pop up and sweep me off my feet. But I don’t think I ever envisioned where I was while I WAS waiting. What was I doing? Where did I live? What career path was I on? Did I own a Birkin? Was my jet fueled and waiting, and was he actually delaying me? No matter how hard I try to recall, I don’t think I ever had a clear picture of what my life would look like before a significant other. I guess I just always imagined that once he strolled in, everything else would fall into place someway, somehow.

I could probably blame the culture I grew up in that only places value on a woman who has a husband and 2-4 kids. I could blame a religion that has for millennia painted women as helpless and in need of a man to provide what they couldn’t and shouldn’t have to on their own. I could even point an accusatory finger at Disney and all its princesses who lived in misery until some prince or frog or the other came along and saved them from their plight. Maybe it was some combination of all of the above. But for the longest time my response to most things was:

“When I get married.”

That’s when I would buy a house. That’s when I would decide which city/country to live in. That’s when I would take that luxury vacation. That’s when I would get a dog, because what if he didn’t like my Black Labrador, Golden Retriever AND Siberian Husky? Like sex, it was almost as if I had relegated a lot of my big life decisions/dreams/aspirations until after there was some significant other in my life to make those decisions – if not for me, then at the very least with me.

I’m blessed enough to be one of those women who never set expectation dates for her life, and never had them imposed on her either. I never thought I’d be married by a certain age, or have a baby by a certain age, and my family has always been more entertained by my travels than by whether or not there’s a man on my arm. But somewhere around 25 I looked up and realized that if I didn’t start making life choices for me – sans le boo – I’d be more disappointed in myself than if I never even got married or had a family at all.

So I stopped playing it safe waiting for some external force to kickstart my life and started taking more risks. I moved to a new city and took a job I never would have been able to sustain in a marriage or with kids. I traveled more than I ever had in my life. I started to think more about the future – except this time there was no safety-net husband to split the mortgage with (or carry it all – I’m equally as open to being taken care of). I started to look at my finances more carefully and started setting long-term goals as if it were just me and my three hypothetical large dogs living in this not-so-distant future. I started asking myself what I wanted for my life and stopped making contingency plans to accommodate an imaginary other. Then I started chasing those things down.

I won’t pretend like it’s always so fun and peachy. There are days when I think things would be a lot easier if there was someone to cook dinner while I worked long hours on multiple projects (insert feminist laughter), or that I had someone to travel with when I’m alone in a hotel room halfway across the world. But I am happier now than I have ever been in my life, and I can see the things I once thought to be only dreams and possibilities actually materializing before my eyes. And all because I chose not to wait for anyone else to validate or materialize them for me.

Mind you, this is not a call to become so independent that you don’t need anyone else. It’s not a way to insure yourself against the possibility that you might end up alone. I believe God honors the desires of our hearts, and I do believe He created us for community, and marriage is one of the ways we find that:

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!

Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

What I am saying (if you haven’t already gotten the point) is this:

You have one life to live, and you don’t want to wake up one day and find that you never even lived it because you were waiting on something like a man, a ring and a wedding to do so. Your potential doesn’t suddenly multiply when someone else steps into the picture – it’s innate and already preprogrammed in you. You have the power to realize it right here and right now. God has equipped you with whatever you need to jumpstart your life in the direction of your dreams and the vision He’s given you. Don’t wait at the starting line – start running hard. Devour everything around you: every opportunity, every challenge. I guarantee you that the Proverbs 31 woman we all love to pretend we already are wasn’t sitting at home waiting for a man to make her into a ‘good woman’. His affirmation of her didn’t make her who she was – she was excellent and entrepreneurial and stylish and innovative and hardworking long before he came along.

So while you wait for the day that lucky frog with a pristinely cut stone hops into your life, refocus your vision. Instead of dreaming of where your life will be with him, start dreaming of where you want your life to be without him. Don’t make allowances for someone who doesn’t yet exist – or even for someone who isn’t yet ready to commit to a partnership beyond dating. A husband is a husband is a husband is a husband. Anything less than, is not. When he does arrive, you can paint a new vision together with God if you so choose. The picture will be all the more glorious because of the foundation you already set for it on your own.