Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

The Myth of "The One"

Don't let fate decide your life for you.

Lately, I've been rethinking the concept of "The One." In my early 20s, I was convinced that there was just "one" career that could satisfy me. There was just one guy who could complete me. There was just one pair of jeans that would make me feel skinny.

As I am quickly approaching 30, I realize that my conceptions of "The One" are askew in a number of ways. There is no "one" anything. My younger self may feel robbed of this revelation, but my current self is relieved. Had there been just one dream career, I would still be spilling drinks on peeved customers and auditioning for roles half my age that I would never book. If there was just one boy who made me truly weak in the knees, I would still be in the waiting room of his life, scratching my head wondering why my number still wasn't called. And just one pair of slimming jeans? Thanks to Levis, I will never have to worry about my gigantic ass hanging out of denim again.

I've found using superlatives and absolutes such as "The One" to have one of two negative effects: laziness or extreme pressure. Laziness, because sometimes, we feel convinced that we have found our predestined paths in life, so even if they don't necessarily make us feel fulfilled or actually pan out, we still commit to them, because we see no other alternative.

During my struggles as an actor in L.A. (I know, how cliché), I figured that I could spend every morning waking up late and half-assing my way through audition sides and headshot sessions. For some reason, I thought that my destiny to become a mega-celebrity was sealed, so there was no reason to really try that hard or think about where I was really heading with my life.

While my peers were training to become doctors, lawyers and investment bankers, I was watching eight-hour marathons of Melrose Place and practicing Oscar-acceptance speeches in the mirror.

The same goes for relationships. Holding onto the belief that you have just "one" love of your life leaves you in a terrible mess when that relationship ends. Or, you may convince yourself that your current relationship is the right one, even if it's not. Maybe, you begin taking your partner for granted, because you think: "Well, he's the one, so he'll stay with me forever, even if I treat him like crap from time to time." Instead of seeking the most from our lives, we remain complacent, oftentimes in mediocre situations, because the truth is, we'd rather pretend that we have something then really work for it. We convince ourselves that the current one is the only one who will love us or is good enough for us.

On the other hand, if you're not lazy, then you're probably overly stressed or pressured to find/cultivate/maintain "The One." Moreover, you have to accomplish all of this in a limited time period, which traditionally follows something like: date for two years, get married in a lavish ranch or beach ceremony, have three kids with unisex names, and adopt two rescue dogs.

I always imagined my life would be figured out by the time I was 30. At the very least, I'd be married to Leonardo DiCaprio (we met on the set of one of our very first films). Career-wise, after winning two Academy Awards, I would have settled into screenwriting and finished my first novel, which debuted at No.1. on The New York Times bestseller list. A renowned literary critic would give it five stars, calling it, "A staggering and riveting masterpiece... Jen Kim is ahead of her time, perhaps, ahead of all humanity."

Obviously, none of this has happened. This was the "one" future that I had planted in my head as a teenager. I couldn't even fathom another life, so the pressure and burden I felt while I was failing to achieve any of it led me to multiple panic attacks and turning to lots of self-help books. I couldn't live like this anymore.

Where am I now?

Well, my life has gone down a very unexpected path recently. In fact, my long hiatus from blogging is due to a move to a new city, a new job, a new apartment and ultimately, a new outlook on life. It isn't the one I had planned for or dreamed about, but it is one that I am looking forward to--experiences, challenges and all.

I no longer have a preconceived notion about what my future should be, which provides a great sense of relief and also makes me feel quite liberated. My destination is not final--it's just beginning.

It was psychologist and writer Albert Ellis who said,

"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny."

Follow me on Twitter: ThisJenKim