AdviceHey, Bonita!

I’m Starting Over, Now What?

Over the last few months, my life has fallen apart back to a complete zero point, and I feel like a loser. I’m about to turn 33, my fiance and I have separated, I lost my job (company changes), and I can’t afford the place I’ve been renting for the last few years now. I’m trying to embrace this as an opportunity for positive change, but I just didn’t expect to be starting over at this age. As a woman, of course all of those feelings of a ticking biological clock are combining with the absolute dread I feel reentering the dating scene. Not being able to financially take care of myself at the moment just feels even worse. How do you bounce back?


Hey Anon,

Slowly, and with all the compassion for yourself that you would offer to a friend going through the same thing.

That’s a lot of life changes to experience all at once, but I’ve been there. I’ve certainly lost a job and a relationship at the same time, and I’ve also had to cancel a lease because I needed something cheaper. We’ve all been dumped; we’ve all been fired; we’ve all been broke. But I know that feeling of “when it rains, it pours,” and you are perfectly justified in feeling like a zero when all of these crummy things happen at once.

But you’re not a zero. You’re not undesirable if you’ve convinced someone to marry you before, whether y’all actually made it down the aisle or not. You are just as lovable now as you were when you got engaged, and things ending with your fiance is not a judgment of your worth. I have a really hard time with breakups myself and tend to take them very personally—it’s really hard not to hear “you are unworthy of love” when someone doesn’t return your feelings. But, honestly, why feel judged when individual preferences are subjective and highly varied? How valuable is anyone else’s opinion, really? For example, did your ex ever use the words “the Fast saga”? If that’s someone’s Star Wars, then how good can their taste be in general? No one’s opinion truly means much in the grand scheme of things, so who cares if there’s one person out there who’s not really feeling you like that. They’re just one person, after all. 

And about that biological clock stuff: You don’t need a partner to be a parent. I’m sure that’s what you intended for yourself, but single parent families are still families. Just putting that out there. 

I think that you will start feeling better once you fix the easy stuff: Get a roommate, and find a new job. I don’t know what your field is, but it really is a job seeker’s market out there right now.  I encourage you to look for work that is secure enough to survive company changes (like working at a university instead of working in the service industry, something like that), or maybe it’s time to get a certification or advanced degree that will help employers see you as the kind of person they need to keep on staff. Find a roommate who is close to your age and matches you in maturity, and be friends with them. Go out drinking or dancing with them, and cultivate a group of friends who will be supportive and encouraging as you hop back into singledom.  Commencement is next week (as of this writing) so this town is about to be ours again, and I think that you deserve to have a Hot Girl Summer—whatever that looks like for you.  

Fix what’s fixable first, then take an inventory of your situation again. I think you’ll find that you’re not nearly as much of a loser as you think you are, and that breakups and life changes like this happen all the time for lots of people. Be kind to yourself! There’s nothing to be gained by putting deadlines on your life goals or comparing yourself to your peers, so I say just focus on creating the life that you want for yourself, by yourself, and then find a partner who wants to share that with you.

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