Charlotte’s Experience Setting Her Own P(e)ace While…

…building a successful career, dating, finding her Harry, and learning to live without apologies.

After breaking up Mr. X, I quietly starting hanging out with another guy and kept  it very much on the down low as I wanted to protect it from all the judgement from family and friends. I was not ready to answer all of the questions and defend myself as to how could I be ready to date again after ending a 3 plus year relationship. Again, I did it my own way on my own timeline. It took a few months and then I decided to tell my friends and family I was dating a new guy.

There will always be pressure from society, friends and family members asking you at each step of your life more and more questions but my best advice to you is to stay your ground, and make your own way. Don’t be a sheep and follow the masses, stand out and be yourself.

About 6 months into this new relationship, my new boyfriend and I had a talk about expectations and wants and where we saw ourselves in 5 years. Heavy questions at 6 months yes, but we were both almost into our 30s so I felt these questions were warranted. I followed my instinct and knew I could not emotionally invest anymore time into this relationship if I didn’t put it out there what I wanted in life. I told my new boyfriend that I would give this relationship 2 years at most and if before that or at that time we both don’t see this going anywhere then we can walk away. He was startled and shocked that I could put a timeline on a relationship and expected him to accept that. I told him I know for ME that I will know by 2 years if I see a long term future with the person I am dating. I was NOT shy and told him that I dated people and I KNEW what I wanted in a partner.  We had our up and downs during this relationship but one thing that was for not misunderstood was MY timeline and my feelings because I did what I thought was right and put it on the line.

Fast forwarding two years, we were engaged to be married. My boyfriend has proposed on our two year dating anniversary and took me by surprise! No mention of anything at all until one evening when we were walking to dinner after a play and I look over and he was down on one knee! AHH! I said YES! Here I was over the moon happy and couldn’t believe it!

Even though I was on cloud 9 with excitement there were still some friends and family in my life saying the engagement wasn’t fast enough and you already lost two years and that I should get married ASAP if I wanted kids. Again, people love to share their opinions regardless of the occasion or event in your life.

My advice is to always be true to yourself and take a pause and enjoy moments of joy with your significant other and let your friends and family wait. We told our closest family and friends about our engagement the day but the rest could wait.

Dating and having a career is challenging but it can be done. Don’t be shy to cancel dates because of a project at work, or pushing dinner plans because you are trying to meet a deadline. If the person you are dating is truly supportive of your career they will understand. I hated rescheduling dates but I often did because of work. I didn’t think it was fair to the person I was dating to have to put up with me when I was fried from a bad day at work or let alone in a horrible mood that no amount of cosmos or food could fix. Sometimes we all need a personal mental health day to go home get chick-fil-a and watch a romantic comedy on Netflix and that is OKAY. I always felt it was better to reschedule vs go ahead with the date and end up in an argument or something because I was NOT at my best to start with.

Sometimes it’s hard to not talk about work when you are on dates but one rule I made was I allowed the first ten minutes of the date to be where we can talk about our days at work but after that no more work talk. I felt like this allowed me to truly “leave work at work” and be the true me and relax, unwind, and get to know the person across from me. 

Meet My First Guest Writer…

…friend, wife, mom, career woman, and setting her own p(e)ace. I love writing this blog for my little readership but there are some perspectives and life experiences I cannot speak too (many but in this case marriage, motherhood, and being her). So please enjoy one of three posts coming from Charlotte.

Growing up, Career, Marriage, Starting a family

I was born in the late 80’s and enjoyed the era of music and movies in the 90’s. I did well in school and graduated high school with honors. I graduated college while working part-time and even finished a semester early. After undergrad the job market was not that great so I went off to graduate school. Starting grad school in 2008 I began to notice my email and mailbox was starting to get flooded with wedding invitations. I thought to myself getting married at 23 years old, wow that is young but I thought to myself each their own. As the years went one I started to look in my closet and paused and thought to myself, “WOW, I am like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses.” I had a closet full of bridesmaid dresses.

During this time I saw friends announce they were having a baby, some were getting separated/divorced, some were on their second marriage and some were still searching for Mr/Miss Right. Through it all though I did the best I could to be there to support my friends through the ups and downs because that is what friends do! Many of them had done that for me after my many heartbreaks, school setbacks, running injuries, and family tragedies. I’ve always made it a point to always reach out to my friends via calls, emails or texts even if its just to say hello. Life gets busy but its always important to put the effort into friendships.

I was about 24 when I realized I would most likely not get married before I was 30. Even though according to many of my colleagues/friends they felt I should try to get married before I’m 30 as the “biological clock is ticking.” I just rolled my eyes at those people. I also had some people in my life say that “hey you have been dating Mr. X for 3 or more years don’t you think you guys will get married?”

That is one thing I never understood why people assumed that just because you have been with this guy/girl for years that you were “owed” an engagement ring. I don’t understand why or how society puts this pressure on relationships – decide if you are on the road to marriage within the first few months and/or year(s). I was always one to make my own way and to choose my own path even though it wasn’t always socially the norm. Just because friends/family of mine were getting married right out of school didn’t make me feel any more pressure to do so. One thing I learned growing up from my parents is that you’re an individual and you are not a follower, do what you believe is right and follow your heart.

I always knew I would get married later in life. I felt this way because to me I worked by butt off in school and wanted to have my own career before settling down. “Settling” that is a unique and sometimes hard word to explain to people. I think a lot of people in life “settle” and that can be good and bad but for me I didn’t want to settle down and get married until I knew I met the right person and I was ready as an individual to get married. I think some people push the “EASY” button and settle with their high school/college/first serious relationship because it is easier to do so than start over.

I will tell you this, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to walk away from someone you could have “settled” down with based on the years you were dating because in the long run YOU KNEW they were NOT the match for you. Always remember YOU deserve to be with someone who loves you and give you respect. Starting over in the dating world in your late 20’s is not easy and many may avoid it and stay with someone they are comfortable with but may not be completely happy with. My motto was always why settle with someone you could be “okay-happy” with in life when you can find someone to be “thrilled and over the moon with?”

It is okay to always be a bridesmaid and never a bride until YOU feel like you are ready. I am now in my early 30’s and I can tell you that I am NOT the same woman I was in my early 20’s. I’ve grown intellectually, emotionally, and physically in order to be ready for all of the challenges of life. In my late twenties after being in my career for 5 years I finally felt like I had arrived. I got a few promotions at work and felt that I knew who I was and what I wanted in a potential partner and was ready to start dating again after the big breakup of Mr. X.

Dating when you have a career is not easy but sometimes it is what is best. I didn’t know this then but there is truth to the saying “once you love yourself others will love you too.”

Once I felt comfortable with who I was in my life, in my career and as an individual I was ready and open to share my life with someone. Through it all sports have taught me life lessons through injuries, training and competitions have all showed me to have confidence in myself and my abilities. These past experiences have helped me where I am today in my career and relationship. Stand up strong, and show the world how amazing you are and always smile as you never know how your smile can bring joy and happiness to someone.