Someone posted about the word empowerment and its overuse recently and I tried to think of a moment in my life I'd describe as empowering. Previous generations have taken care that I wouldn't be robbed of power when it came to education and work, so I can't find much empowerment there. My body image was atrocious growing up but battling those issues was a gradual process, intersecting with other similar processes, so I can't pinpoint a definitive moment when I won and felt the power of not hating your body as a woman for the first time.

There's one thing though that did make me feel independent in a wholly new way - like a person who has shed a load that's been keeping her shackled, in a fashion. That was when I broke up with my first long-term boyfriend and realised I was revelling in singledom.

See, when I finally started to notice boys - or, more accurately, when I suddenly fell violently in love with a classmate without any premonition - I consistently thought of myself as one of the girls who were not pretty. There were two categories: pretty, feminine, special girls who deserved boyfriends, and the ugly ones, and I'd placed myself in the latter with absolute certainty. By the time I was 19 and went away to university, I'd still only had flings with friends and one very short-term boyfriends. And suddenly I was in a completely new environment which was even worse than secondary school in one aspect - everyone had a boyfriend. Even the second category girls, the one who were like me, the non-fairy-tale princesses had boyfriends. I felt so ridiculously left out, like a complete freak, and I remember actively wishing I had a boyfriend. Not long afterwards I got one and spent 4 mostly miserable years with him, wondering why the sweet beginning was dying out like the sugary layer of a bubblegum.

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When I finally woke up to the reality that it needed to end, I broke it off, mourned for a few months, then packed my bags and went on an Erasmus exchange where I got my first real taste of the most glamorous kind of singledom, the one with adventure, excitement, sexual confidence and the full presence of my personality in my every interaction, and loved it. I came back and I realised I didn't want to be with anybody. I didn't want a boyfriend anymore, and I still felt alright. I liked spending so much time with myself. That felt empowering. I didn't need to be coupled up to feel normal. It was a super liberating feeling.

If any of you want to share their moment/definition of empowerment, I'd be very interested to read it.