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I always had certain expectations for how I wanted my life to turn out, and if I am being honest, the way things are and the way I envisioned them is much different from one another. However, I am not sad about that.

One of the biggest aspirations I had as a young woman was to get married, have a family, and live the American dream. However, life had different plans for me. Instead of getting married, I spent my 20s and early 30s finding myself. There were a lot of things I discovered along the way and many of those lessons made me who I am today. While all of my friends were getting married, I learned the following things.

1. Emotional intelligence is everything.

Once upon a time, I would date just about anyone if they were the right type. However, the more guys I dated, the more I realized I required much more than that. Now, after years of working on my own emotional intelligence, I would NEVER be around a guy who wasn’t doing the same.

2. You don’t need someone else to make you happy.

You do not NEED a husband or wife to make you happy. If you aren’t happy with who you are and if you don’t know how to meet your own needs, you will be disappointed with every guy that looks at you.

3. Actually, no one else can make you happy and fulfilled but you.

No one has the power to make you happy. It is so unrealistic to look at a person, and expect them to meet all of your needs. You have to know how to do that for yourself.

4. Your type changes constantly.

Over the course of your life, you will change your type. You will have a different type for each era of your life. So, be careful to not assume that your type won’t change.

5. Getting your dream career is way more important than getting married.

I used to value the notion of marriage over anything. Now, I am so happy I spent the time and effort on building my career. Had I jumped headfirst into marriage, I would have surely lost myself.

6. Always invest in a good group of friends.

Friends are invaluable, especially good friends. Don’t worry about surrounding yourself with a million people. Instead, surround yourself with a good group of people and make sure you invest in keeping those relationships maintained.

7. You have to know yourself before you marry someone else.

I think a lot of people worry about marriage and then later discover themselves. However, if we spent time on understanding ourselves first and then worried about marriages, I would barter that half of the people who end up divorced would be in better standing.

8. You don’t need to be married to make things happen.

Another misconception in our society is that if you want a house a family or any of the big things, you have to be married. That simply isn’t true. You don’t need a husband to have a home. You do not have to be married to decide to have children. This is YOUR life.

9. Marriage won’t magically fix your problems.

Of course, it should go without saying, but really it is necessary to say. Getting married won’t magically fix your life. It won’t give you all the things you need to be happy and it won’t change your life if your life is in a bad place. You have to fix your own problems, and honestly, this should be done before involving another person.