When will I stop being a work in progress?

I've seen myself as a work in progress for a very long time. I feel like that's contributed to my non-existent love life.

For a long time, I felt good about working on myself. I prioritized bettering my mental and physical health and thought, how could I possibly go into a relationship when I wasn't my best? I was all about looking in instead of looking out for others. This all started a few years ago.
I became a healthier person, which involved losing a lot of weight. Then, after I had had my body transformation, I got a job opportunity that required me to move 1,200 miles away from home, and that position demanded a lot of me. Ambition became my priority at the expense of everything else. After the job overwhelmed my life, I had to move back home and seek therapy.

So I'm back where I started, a work in progress, in the process. Is it OK to be still be improving but looking for a partner at the same time? Someone who can help me get there? I don't mean seeking out someone to do the work for me, but I'm interested in having moral support along the way. Afraid of always being a work in progress, I shy away from every situation that may lead to a relationship because I'm not there yet. Will I ever be? I'm 31.

– WIP


I love that we live in a world that validates self-improvement and growth. These days, there are a zillion apps for self-care. People can take pride in sharing how they prioritize mental health, how they set goals, how they work to be better.

But I don't love the idea that some people feel they have to "win" at self-improvement to deserve another person's romantic company. Yes, there are absolutely times where a person should stay single because they are in no way equipped to be a good partner. But that's not the situation you're in. You want to support a nice person, even if they're a work in progress themselves. In turn, you want to be loved. That means you're ready for a relationship. This idea that you have to be your best, most amazing self before you meet someone ... it's just not realistic or fair.

You're not alone in thinking this way, just so you know. I think a lot about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (sorry people, stay with me ... I swear I'm going somewhere with this), and the finale where she tells Angel she's not ready to be with him because she's still "cookie dough." She says she's not in a place to consider commitment because she's not finished baking. That idea makes sense for Buffy as a character because she's very young, but ... sometimes I think we're all cookie dough. There's no real finish for any of us. We just get to a place where we're ready for company.

Anyway, the point is, there's no siren that goes off when you become a perfect polished person. It's a never-ending process, so you just have to learn, try, and do your best.

– Meredith

Readers? Are you cookie dough? I am, both in diet and emotional state.