…at least when it comes to dating it is.
Let’s be honest here, I don’t really know what people mean when they say something is their Spirit Animal. I’m fairly certain the idea has Native American origins & has to do with identifying an animal that encapsulates the essence of you, your spirit as it were. I guess I could search it up (a term often used in my household that’s a combination of search & look it up) but I’m probably close enough for this particular analogy. If a person can have a spirit animal then why not a spirit ion, especially a chemistry nerd like myself?
I was sitting in biochemistry lecture the other day, the professor was introducing the topic of bioenergetics, when phosphate came up.
Obviously this isn’t the first time I’ve learned about phosphate in a chemistry class but when the professor said “Phosphate is such a good leaving group because it’s so stable on its own it would just rather be unattached”, I felt like I could really relate to phosphate. While you can and do attach yourself, knowing you have the capacity to be stable alone makes you more willing and able to leave when it’s time.
See, phosphate has this cool ability to have “resonant structures” that allow it to be stable when it’s a free ion (unattached to another molecule) even though it has a charge. The way oxygen and phosphorous bind makes phosphate able to disperse the charge of the lone pair of electrons (which usually make an ion more reactive) evenly over the space of the entire molecule. This makes it an excellent leaving group. Because when you know you have the capacity to be stable on your own, to be okay when you’re unattached, you’re more likely to leave.
I’ve always been an independent person. When I was younger I just wanted to be left alone to do my own thing and find whatever fun (or trouble….sometimes they’re the same thing) I could. I could and would take care of myself so don’t try to sell me this Disney princess find your one true love to live happily ever after bullshit. If they had voted for a Least Likely to get Married title in high school I’m pretty sure I would’ve won that. Having graduated from a Catholic high school, however, and they did not. Missed opportunity right there.
But then I got married ….when I was twenty. Getting pregnant at eighteen was a game changer. It didn’t alter my level of independence but my life was thrown into this crazy flux and I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. So I got married; I thought it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t, it was a mess.
Fast forward a few years (or a decade & a half) and here I am, thirty-five, divorced, trying to date. It’s been eye opening. It’s been bizarre. It’s been fun too though. And I’ve learned a whole lot about myself. At first I was very sure I wasn’t ready for anything serious; I just wanted to see what’s out there & get the hang of things. As I approached the one year mark of dating (albeit on & off) I thought it would be nice to have A Person, to actually seek a regular dating relationship. More recently I’ve realized that that doesn’t really work for me at this juncture.
Don’t get me wrong, I do support the idea of monogamous relationships in general. But I see now that there is just not space in my life for such a thing. There’s not enough free time, not enough emotional space, and just not enough energy at the end of the day to think about another person like that and invest in building a relationship. I simply do not have time to be attached right now and I’m okay with that. If I could magically jump into a relationship at the point where things are established and comfortable it might be a different story. That’s not how it works though and I’m not about to sacrifice time with my kids or the enrrgy I need to devote to succeeding in school to try and make a budding relationship work. That’s not fair to me or the potential other person. Besides that, I know I am stable on my own and I’ll be fine without that. It makes me a good leaving group. Much like phosphate, I’ll be okay unattached. It’s energetically preferred at this time.
Phosphate is also very important in metabolic processes. Something else I can relate to.