I am now 27, so naturally I have every right to begin reflecting on my life like I am old and crowned with wisdom. Maybe I'm jumping the gun on this, but I have learned a valuable lesson recently and that is: relationships are a gift that offer us the opportunity to grow. When I look back I am thankful that I didn’t get some of the things that I wanted, because what I thought I wanted changed. Every rejection was a form of protection saving me from myself and a misguided future.

I want to sincerely thank every ‘almost boyfriend’ for not making me your girlfriend. As sarcastic as that may sound, I mean that truthfully. Thank you for withdrawing your pursuit as you looked at me and thought, ‘she's not the one.’ Thank you for letting me go even when I held on tight. Every lesson on loving was also a lesson in living. Out of the ashes of my broken heart I learned to come alive and every failed relationship gave me a chance to dream again.

To all my almost lovers, thank you for helping me become secure in who I am. Thank you for giving me a chance to face my fears, break free from insecurity and find confidence. You taught me how to grow up, deal with disappointment and move on. You helped me understand some desires are temporary and in your absence you showed me that on lonely nights I can learn to have fun. You gave me a reason to run into the wild like a savage, chase the wind in fields of flowers and fall in love with adventure like a child. You gave singleness new meaning: The lack of a boyfriend is also the gain of connecting with my purpose, exploration of my passion and limitless generosity with my time.

Thank you to all the guys who made my heart skip a thousand beats. For giving me a glimpse at the kind of guy I want to be with someday. For teaching me how to feel and not be afraid of not being in control. Thank you for opening doors, for telling me I’m beautiful, for calling and not texting, for fighting to pay the bill and for encouraging me in my dreams. The opportunity to belong to you for a moment was worth the journey of navigating heartache. Thank you for not pretending to be the one for me. One day, I won’t be the only one thanking you, but my future husband will too. So on his behalf, (in hopes that I will actually get married sometime in the next 25 years), I thank you for respecting his girl.