Major funding for Been There/Done That is provided by The Atlantic Philanthropies with additional funding by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Strings Attached
Written by Sri Rao

There are these nights. When you're walking home alone, your hands stuffed deep down in your pockets. And you can feel the concrete against the soles of your feet. Concrete that doesn't give back. It simply supports, allowing you to move forward - with this constant motion, this rhythm. Trying to get somewhere. One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other... Just get to the next step. Just get to a place that's warm. Just get to your life.

It's interesting - living the life of a single person. I'm turning 30 this year and I've been single all my life. My longest relationship being two weeks. And I'll be honest with you - saying it out loud is a little jarring. I feel this need to justify to you, to let you know that I am good-looking and smart and witty because somewhere along the way we mistakenly learn that relationship is synonymous with validity.

A few years ago, I would often say to my couple friends that they were lucky. Their lives have built-in significance. Just sitting at home on a Wednesday evening, watching TV, paying the bills - somehow, because you're spending that time with another person, it seems as though you're living your life. Sitting at home alone on a Wednesday evening, watching TV - somehow, that feels like your life is on hold. You're just biding time, hiding out from the world... Waiting until your life has a chance to get around to you.

As I leave my 20s, I'm not nearly so naive anymore. As I reach the age where the relationships that I stood up and toasted in front of 250 people - as I see those same relationships now falter and crumble, I often think to myself how lucky I am to have been single for so long. Not because I'm spared the hurt and embarrassment of heartbreak. But because I had the chance to understand. To understand that your significance already is. Your wholeness already is. The pursuit is to realize that - to feel that. To open the fullness of yourself. First to yourself... and then to the world.

We all have strings. Mothers and fathers. Boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends. Teachers and colleagues and neighbors whose names you always forget.

But, at the end of the day... There are these nights. When you're walking home alone, your hands stuffed deep down in your pockets. When you realize that there's really only one string - there only ever was. The one from you, to yourself, that runs all the way through to the ground. To the concrete. That doesn't give back.

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