I’ve asked myself this several times. I’ll meet someone, get my hopes up and nothing happens. Sometimes, I get a red flag and decide to move on. Other times, the guy I like will stop contacting me. So, here I am still single, but does that mean I am without love?

Over time, I have met several types of girls. I’ve met the girl who is just “waiting” for the “right one” to come along. I have been that girl too. We tend to fantasize in our mind how “perfect” it will be when we meet “the one”. I have also met the girl who settled. Neither one seems to be very happy though. Why? What is missing?

First of all, I think expectation has a huge role in our unhappiness. We expect him to look like Channing Tatum and act like Ryan Gosling in Nicolas Sparks’ The Notebook. But in reality, men are not women. Most men like men things: sports, making money, fishing, action movies, and spending time in their man cave. Not necessarily candle lit dinners with Frank Sinatra playing in the background, although some do. Most men don’t like talking and chatting for hours. The simpler the better. They’re very logical and fact oriented. Us women have a tendency to have a backstory to our backstory which is a backstory to our actual story. We are different.

Secondly, we need to ditch the lie that says, “we can only feel loved when we have a significant other”. I have been incredibly blessed with an amazing family and amazing friends who have become like family. I know I am loved, but sometimes I get stuck with what we think “love is” or what “love should be”. We can experience love and receive love without a significant other.

For me, the past two years have rested my resolve, but I have felt more love than before. I fled the state I called “home” to get away from a toxic relationship. That meant saying goodbye to a job I loved, an apartment, and lots of great friends. A year after that, I lost my Dad in a car accident. As if that weren’t enough, a few months after that, I lost my job due to the business closing.

After experiencing so much loss, I feel like I have a greater appreciation for what others have been through or are going through. The more loss I experience the more I am learning how to love others and how to receive love from others.

The week I was packing my things to get away from a toxic relationship, I had a sweet friend pay my portion of the rent. I did not tell her why I was leaving. I was scared to tell this friend because she knew who who the toxic person who hurt me and could have been upset about my silence, but she did the opposite and helped me. During that same week, I also had my roommate tell me they’d cover my portion of the rent as long as I needed her to. I had a family, who did not have much, give me $100 for gas. Lastly, I had two other friends who gave me a substantial amount of money so I could take time off and recalibrate.

Each one of my family members and my friends have taught me how to love better. The week my Dad was in SICU fighting for his life, I had two friends who gathered money and sent me two cards. Inside the card were kind words, thoughts and prayers from all my old co-workers as well as $500 gift card that they all pitched in for. If that is not sacrificial love and abundant kindness I don’t know what is. I don’t know one of my friends and coworkers that live in abundance. They all gave selflessly.

Everyone is in need of love. My grandpa once said, “Love is not only a feeling but also a warmful act.” Sometimes our feeling betrays us. But if we choose to love the ones we have around us and expect nothing in return, it will slowly change how we feel. It truly is better to give than to receive. The same is true for love. A lot of the time we are sitting around waiting for someone to love us, but what if we decided to love others how we wanted to be loved.

I had a friend tell me, “I wish I was appreciated more.” Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she decided to tell her closest friends that she appreciated them. And in return, each friend reciprocated their appreciation of her.

So, instead of asking if love will come to you, how about asking: will I be love? will I be (a representation) of love to my family? will I be a (representation) of love to my co-workers? will I be (a representation) of love to my neighbors, friends, and my community?

Love comes in many forms, be creative. Love might look like a cup of coffee for your tired co-worker. It may look like an old-fashioned handwritten note to your friend encouraging her to keep pressing on. It may be an act of selflessness to your family. Maybe spending time listening to someone hurting in your community. I try to remind myself that no matter where I am there is always someone who is doing better and always someone who is doing worse. This helps me keep perspective. It helps me to help those who are worse off and strive to be more like the one who’s doing better.

Life is short, and we only have one life to live, we might as well spend it loving others well. Sure, we will get hurt sometimes. In the case of my toxic relationship, I gave all that I had and was left broken and beaten down. But, having a broken and scarred heart is not the worst thing that could happen, being bitter and callous is.

Love is not selfish it is selfless. Don’t sit around expecting things; instead, spend the time to connect with others. Life is hard and we need each other. And, the best way to learn how to be in a healthy relationship with a significant other is by learning how to love those around you now.

Choosing to be selfless and loving others expands your heart. Being single, I never know what to do for my birthday. So, I decided, instead of feeling sorry that I don’t have anyone to celebrate with, I decided to pick a cause to be a part of. Two years ago, I was a part of an “anti-sex trafficking walk” with an organization called A21. This past year, I volunteered to do relief work for those who have been impacted by hurricane Irma and possibly those impacted by hurricane Maria. This year, I’m raising money in a half marathon for a charity that I love.

So instead of pining away waiting, or settling and not being very happy, how about we choose today to change our perspective. Loving someone around you will make it hard to feel sorry for yourself. Being grateful that you have more than someone else might help open your eyes to how much more we can be grateful for.

As I said before, life is short. Although I miss him dearly, I had peace when my Dad passed away because I told him the week before the accident that I was proud of him. I loved him the best I knew how when he was here, and I know he knew that. I also know he loved me. So, today, do not waste any more time. Choose to be the love you want to see.

So, to summarize I’d like to leave you with 10 tips on to love:

1)    Leave your expectation low and keep your giving high

2)    Keep perspective: Strive to help the person worse off than you and strive to be more like the one who’s better off than you.

3)    When you’re feeling down, text someone else to ask how they’re doing

4)    When you’re feeling lonely, write a handwritten note to someone who’s been a good friend.

5)    Do something this year to help others around the time of your birthday- it may end up being the best birthday you’ve ever had, and you never know who you might meet.

6)    Be grateful for the people currently in your life instead of the ones who aren’t.

7)    Don’t expect anything and spend time to connect. Be there. Show up.

8)    Life is hard, choose to invest in friendships that will help ease your load and will help ease their load.

9)    Always be kind, the world is full of too much hate as it is.

10)    Life is short, tell those around you how much they mean to you. Don’t let things be unsaid.