I recently read this amazing blog post by #ShaunaNiequist called “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.” Over the last couple of weeks I have talked about this blog with friends and acquaintances. Many of them have said, “Oh, I’ve heard about this.” It is well worth a read, so take a few minutes now if you haven’t already. What she writes about is worth sharing. We as single people may not be where we want to be in our lives, or where we envisioned ourselves, but we have it pretty good. We have some freedoms that married folk don’t. We have some freedoms that parents don’t. Rather than looking at it as a burden to be single, or something to be sad about, let’s choose to look at it as an opportunity to Say YES to Life! and live the hell out of this season.
I’ve lived the better part of my 37 years being single. Granted, 26 of those years were spent trying to figure out who the hell I wanted to date. Good Lord! Once that got all settled, I spent the next nine years living it up, going to bars with friends, dating, getting graduate degrees, traveling, thinking it would be awesome to have a kid, realizing it would not be awesome to have a kid, and then finally finding that guy, the one I would call “boyfriend.” Those years were fun, but certainly not what I was looking for, for the rest of my life. The year plus with my ex was amazing and I thought it was everything I wanted out of life. AT LONG LAST, I wasn’t SINGLE. Honestly, in my head, just not being single and having a “boyfriend” was probably more significant than the actual relationship. He couldn’t give me his heart. He couldn’t say, “I love you.” That is what I’m looking for, a guy who can accept emotion from me and give it back to me.
“You’ve been so unavailable/Now sadly I know why/Your heart is unobtainable/Even though Lord knows you kept mine.”
–Sam Smith, “I’m Not The Only One” from In the Lonely Hour
(Check out Sam Smith’s album, In the Lonely Hour, and be amazed. Not since Adele have lyrics been so real.)
Before my ex, I had convinced myself that I was content being single. How many times did I tell myself, “I’d rather be single than with the wrong guy.” I can tell you, hundreds of times that phrase went through my head. And yes, if I’m single the rest of my life, I will be okay. However, after experiencing a consistent, fun, and worthwhile dating relationship, the reality is that I want to be with a partner. I do not want to be single. Who does? As is written in “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other,” being single does not mean that we have to wait to be partnered before we can start our lives. This is a season. We may not be where we want to be, but this is an opportunity to live our lives freely until or if a partner should ever join us.
“Being single is an opportunity, even if it’s not one you choose. Spend it.” I love this quote from the blog post by #ShaunaNiequist. Yes, thank you for acknowledging that this is not what I chose. I don’t like it, but I can take this time and opportunity and “spend it.” And this too, “don’t wish away this season just because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would.” What a constant reminder that I have a good life. I am doing things with my singledom that are pretty amazing.
What has this Single Season afforded me?
Sarah, Dave, Michael, Patrick, Ronald, to name a few, have come in, or back into my life during this season. This is like my Oscar speech because there are SO many more people who the above have introduced me to who have become amazing parts of my life too. I probably could name about 50 new or returning people to my life during the past year. If anything has come of this time, I know that I am blessed to have these friends in my life. These are the people who reach out and ask, “Want to go grab a beer?” “Want to grab brunch?” “Want to go to a movie?” “Want to go for a run?” This season may not be where any of us want to be, but we have the freedom and choice to do whatever we want, when we want, and how we want. That’s pretty cool.
I have not written off my married friends, though most of them have fled to the burbs with kids. That’s not to say we can’t still hang out. As is written in the blog post, “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other,” single people can still add significance to married people and vice versa. “Don’t miss out on friendships with amazing people because they’re single and their rhythm of life is different from yours. And don’t assume that because someone’s single, they don’t want to hang out with married people, or people with kids.” This is true. I love my married friends and I love their kids. The best part of hanging out is that I get to see my friends, play with their kids, and the kids stay with them and I get to go back to the city. I joke, but some of the friends I have who are married have been the longest friendships here in Chicago. Though our lives have changed since we were all 24, single and living in the city, I love them all and wish I could see them more. So yes, my single friends from 14 years ago are mostly married with children and though our lives are admittedly different, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be involved with them. They add significance to my life too.
Finally, after a year of being sad, I made it through the fog and found my voice. I’m only 5 posts (almost 6) into this adventure of blogging, but it feels good. It feels good to write and create and express my emotions. This blog is about taking my power back. Taking back the power to be happy. It is a choice and I’m choosing to find the good things in life, whether I’m single or not.
Being single may not be where any of us want to be right now, but we have a choice to be cheerful and happy and free to do whatever we want. I recently said to my friend Patrick, who is headed on his first solo trip, that traveling alone is amazing because it opens us up to new experiences we would not often open ourselves up to in the comforts of our own world. On my solo trips in Thailand and Peru I met so many people I would have otherwise not, because I was single. When we’re alone we are more willing to approach people and they more willing to approach us. In Peru I had one of the best conversations about world travel with an older single woman who saw I was alone and asked to eat dinner with me. That took balls, but you know what, if I was with someone, she and I would never have had that conversation. We would have never shared our stories of the majesty that is Machu Picchu. On the flip side, there were a few times in Thailand that I was staying at fantastic hotels and I wished I had a partner with me to experience the grandeur. During this conversation with friends Patrick and Sarah I said, “I really want to go to Greece, but I think it is a trip to do with a partner. Maybe a honeymoon trip?” Wisely Sarah said, “You could die tomorrow. If you want to go, go. If you want to go next summer, start planning. If you want to go for your 40th, do it. Invite friends and the people who can and want to come will come. Don’t wait for a honeymoon or a boyfriend. Life could end tomorrow. We are single now and we can go now.” YES! This is about Saying YES to LIFE! Whatever makes you happy, do it. If it is owning a nice knife, buy it now. Do not wait for a wedding. If it is travel, do not wait around for someone else. Do it now. Do it for yourself because you are fabulous, free, and ready to live your life, NOW! Forty is just over two years away. Start saving your money because we are headed to Greece, ya’ll!
“Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.”
To my single friends: Hold on for the ride. Embrace your singledom and live your life. Remember, “Single is not a status, it is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”
How are you Saying YES to LIFE?