Getting Gutsy On My Own

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.

I had so much fun participating in Jessica’s contest last year that I’m participating again. And cause she rocks. So there’s that.

I honestly can’t believe I’m putting this out on the internet but whatever, here it goes. #getgutsy? hahah

In the last ten years since I was sixteen, I have spent more than nine of them in relationships (two, to be specific). Until recently, I did all of my growing up with someone by my side. When I moved into my college dorm room freshman year, I had someone to call when I got lonely. When I went abroad to Florence in college, I had someone waiting for me when I came home. When I moved to Connecticut after college, to a place where I knew no one, and started a my big girl job, I had a boyfriend by my side. Even when I ran my first marathon, I had someone there who kept me calm- and then proceeded to run all over Chicago cheering me on.

Believe it or not, I am a very independent person. I like being by myself. I never felt that I needed a boyfriend. Of those nine years, I was in long distance relationships for six of them. I’ve had plenty of space to find myself and grow on my own over the years. Having a boyfriend didn’t stop me from going abroad, moving for a job, getting my yoga teacher certification, making new friends, starting my own business, and pursuing any other dream I had at the time. I am definitely not one of those people that thinks a serious relationship holds you back from doing it all in your twenties.


So I’m sure you know where this is going by now. Seven(? Losing count.) months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of three and a half years, and in the time since then, I feel like I have truly discovered what it means to get gutsy.

The detail of how and why it ended aren’t mine to share, but I will say this: my gut was saying he wasn’t right but I was definitely not ready for it to end.

It takes a lot of guts to leave a relationship you aren’t happy in. To have the confidence to know you deserve better. To have the faith to believe you will find better. It’s terrifying to not have any idea what your future holds, to live a life that doesn’t match your “timeline” or what you always thought it might look like. But I think it’s even scarier to stay in a relationship just because you’re too afraid to look for something better. If you’re in a similar cycle of doubt and anxiety, my advice is to LISTEN to your gut. Really listen. I spent so much time paralyzed by the fear of being alone. Like, so. much. time. I didn’t want to hear what my gut had to say. But I can honestly say, seven months later – alone – I am happier than I’ve been in years.

The weeks immediately following the breakup were tough. I let myself feel alllll the feels (just ask any of my friends ha!) but I’m so glad I let myself have that time because I came back so much stronger as a result. I quickly discovered how awesome it is to be on my own. I wake up every day and I am in charge of how my day goes. I’m not relying on anyone else to make me happy. I’m not waiting for that sweet text, those just-because flowers, or that dinner invite that might never come. I don’t have to tell anyone where I am going or what I am doing. I don’t have to check in with someone before I made plans, and find myself taking off on a new adventure/trip at a moments notice. I can go to bed when I want instead of being kept up by a goodnight phone call, I go to the gym or stay in bed as often as I deem necessary. I feel so much lighter. Free.

Maybe being gutsy sometimes means letting yourself be vulnerable and sad? May it means leaning on others for support when you need it?

This year, being gutsy for me has meant learning how to be by myself on a Friday night, to embrace the uncertainty of my future, to sit in silence without being terrified of my thoughts, to put myself out there completely and discover what I really want out of a relationship. I’ve learned dating is fun. No scratch that, dating is a BLAST. I wouldn’t trade the dating stories I’ve accumulated in the last six months for anything. I have days where I want to stay single forever and days where I wish I was forty years old and settled. It’s not always easy; sometimes it’s down right uncomfortable but I know where I am today is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

When the right guy comes into my life, I’ll be ready. But until then? I’m just enjoying the ride.


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  • This was so well written! I think you should be very proud of yourself for listening to your gut and believing that little voice that was telling you that you deserve more out of a relationship/life partner. I’ve been in your shoes and it sucks so very much and is so very hard, but it’s worth it because those big, hard decisions are what will lead you to the person that is right for you.

    I’ve spent most of my 20s/30s single so it’s sometimes a little bit hard for me to adjust to being in a relationship as I’m not used to factoring someone else into my plans, and I’m really independent and can be selfish with my time. But I’m figuring it out, step by step.ReplyCancel

  • Love this Caroline. You are definitely gutsy in my book! 🙂

    Also – I didn’t know you studied abroad in Florence. I did too! Such a fun city to live in!ReplyCancel

  • This is such a hard, gutsy decision to make. Being alone after being in a relationship for so long can be so scary! (I have the opposite problem: being in a relationship after being single for most my life is quite terrifying! Haha.)ReplyCancel

  • Love this post! What an awesome way to get gutsy and I’m so glad that this experience has allowed you to grow and become so much happier over the last year even though I know it was a very very difficult one at the start. Here’s to lots more growth and fun and hilarious dating stories in 2015 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I love this post.
    Almost as much as I love your dating stories and sitting on the porch listening to Eric come up with funny comebacks for you.ReplyCancel

    • Caroline

      hahahah love Eric’s comebacks. Next time I have a night like that again I’ll just come over : )ReplyCancel

  • Steph

    Proud of you, Ca. We’ve come a long way since the days of cocktail codenames : )ReplyCancel

    • Caroline

      Thanks, Stephanie! I agree, I barely recognize myself from those days.. except that I still crush on martini sometimes BAHAHA. I’d love to go back and read those notebooks, I bet they’re hilarious.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren

    What an amazing post. You are gutsy and awesome 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Hillary

    I love this Caroline. I was in a very similar situation with my ex when I was in Connecticut. It took me a year to end things because I was afraid of so many things, similar to what you described.

    This is such a perfect “gutsy” essay and one that I think many of us can relate to. What’s the most gutsy is that I think some of minimize this decision or make it seem like we weren’t as strong as we were… but you write it so powerfully and get to the heart of the decision. Thank you for posting this.

    xoxo your friend who also fled from Connecticut!!ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful, Caroline. Thank you so much for sharing this! I know you were a little nervous to do so. It’s an amazingly written post and I can pretty much relate to every word as I’m in the same boat. Here’s to moving forward! xoxReplyCancel

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