It’s okay to be single. That may sound like an obvious statement but for some, but I don’t think it seems that simple. Having been married and divorced and having come out on the other side, I realize that while there may be idealist pressures that others try to impose on you, it is really up to you to lead the life that you want. For some, the pressure to be married is very real and very painful. I luckily did not let external pressure to be married impact me in my life. Instead, what did impact me greatly, was realizing in my very early 30’s that I truly wanted to have a baby. This changed everything for me.

Over the years, I have seen friends excel in their careers and forgo relationships and babies, I have seen friends get married and dedicate their life to their families and I have seen friends be left by husbands, or in some cases find the loves of their lives when they turn 40. At the end of the day, what has become very obvious to me is that you need to make you happy and lead the life you want to lead because you can’t plan and dictate your future.

Having been lucky enough to experience so much through my life and through those close to me, it has become very apparent that the people I know that take responsibility for their health and happiness first and foremost, are the ones that end up winning in the game of life. By taking responsibility for where you are and who you are, you simply empower yourself. Being in an empowering situation is always a great place to be. When you are empowered, you can change your course if you so choose. When you are empowered, you alone can affect your next move and your future. And, when you are empowered you don’t need to point to others or torture yourself with wondering ‘what if?’ The moment you realize that you alone are the only one getting in your way, is the moment you truly empower yourself to lead the life that you want to live. I find that incredibly liberating.

Recently, I got the opportunity to spend some time with a great friend who just got divorced. She’s feeling scared, lost and down. All normal feelings after losing the hope that you would be married forever. What I have witnessed, however, is how much stronger she is becoming as a result of the divorce. For the first time in a long time, she is pursuing her own interests and traveling and spending time with friends instead of focusing on her husband. While she may not see it yet, she is liberating herself, and by turning her focus onto herself – instead of someone else – she is moving into a better place.

I also have another great friend who has been happily married for 20 years and she reminds me to pursue my life and my passions and not to lose sight of them. She continues to work even though she doesn’t have to, and she credits much of her success in marriage to not giving up on her career and her life outside of her husband and kids. While we all know what a juggle life can be when you have kids and work, it is still so important to continue to do the things that make you feel fulfilled. I used to think people that put themselves first were selfish, now I see that they are confident and strong. The better we take care of ourselves the better we will be able to take care of others and enjoy our lives.

What makes you happy? What are your passions? If you knew that the world was going to end, what is it that you would do differently today? The minute we begin to lead our lives acting on these answers is the minute our lives will improve and good things come to us. Every day is a chance to meet someone new, try something different and put joy into our lives and others. Whether you are single, married, divorced or otherwise, I hope you will see that those labels are just that, labels. It is up to you and only you to create a life you want to live. It also just so happens that when you do this, you forget about all of those pressures and preconceived notions and often that’s when that special someone can come into your life. This is true for any day, but especially helpful to remember during the holidays. Cheers to you living the life you choose!