the art of loving the single life
In my life, I have been single more often than not. And in my long-term relationship with Singledom, there are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me embrace and enjoy the solitude. They are things that I wish I could share with every teenager, or twenty-something girl, who finds herself feeling a little “less than” just because she has no one to tell her she’s beautiful every day or to call her every night before bed. So, for starters, let me be the one to remind you today: you are beautiful. With or without a hand to hold.
The first myth I need to debunk about single life is that just because I am alone means I am lonely. And immediately following, the second myth I need to debunk is the notion that I never get lonely.
While I am extremely comfortable being independent and on my own, occasionally I get caught up in wanting what others have: someone to stand by my side when it feels like the world is against me, someone to laugh at my jokes when no one else thinks they're funny, someone to play with my hair while cuddling and binge watching episodes of Parks and Rec . . . you get the idea.
So, what happens when you want to embrace your single status, but the loneliness starts to creep in? I have implemented a few tricks that I came up with after a heart-wrenching breakup, and they’ve helped me become a master at celebrating my singleness.
This particular breakup was down-to-the-soul crushing, and I had to find ways to encourage myself daily to focus on other aspects of my life. The aspects of my life that would be there for me regardless of my relationship status.
I realized quickly that, just as John Mayer sings about in “Dreaming With A Broken Heart,” the waking up truly is the hardest part. So I made a plan to help get myself out of bed and start each day with much needed positive energy.
On an index card, I wrote down three of my goals, with the one caveat being that those goals could have nothing to do with another person. These were things that I, and only I, could control. My goals for my life. Then, on the other side of the card, I wrote three things that I like about myself that have nothing to do with being in a relationship.
Every night I would place this index card on my cell phone. When my alarm went off in the morning, I had to look at it in order to turn off the alarm. It was a daily reminder that I have things I am working towards, and that I have a worth that is not contingent on another person being able to see it. I have a future ahead of me and if I want to bring that future into fruition, I had better drag my butt out of bed.
It got me through the hardest part of the breakup, and it’s something I still occasionally use today (usually when yet another friend asks to set me up on a blind date, or another family member asks if I’m seeing anyone special). Yes, I am actually. It’s me. I’m the someone special. See, it’s even written on this index card as proof: an insurance policy for my own happiness and a reminder of my own significance, despite my lack of a significant other.
Another key that I’ve found to loving the single life is surrounding myself with copious amounts of non-romantic love. I may not currently be in love, but I never feel void of it. I spent Valentine’s weekend with two of my closest girl friends, as well as my family. I got to squeeze my niece and nephew, and I got to be around people who love me unconditionally. I felt loved, and I loved in return. I may not have gotten chocolates, but that’s actually a good thing because I gave up candy for Lent anyway. (There is always a silver lining, even in the life of a Singleton).
And then there is what I consider the most important thing on my list of why it’s OK to be single and loving it: an absolute refusal to settle. I’m gonna repeat that statement for dramatic effect:
Refusal. To. Settle.
I have a lot of goals and dreams, and I am terrified that a relationship will deter me from the path to those goals. I have an intense fear of distraction, but maybe that’s just because I haven’t found the right person yet.
I believe a healthy relationship will help you achieve your goals and will inspire you to be the best version of yourself. So until I find the person who truly makes me better, it’s just me and my guitars forever and ever, amen.
I am obsessed with the idea of bettering myself, which means I need to be with someone who is as into self-improvement as I am. I despise complacency, both in myself and in a potential partner.
I was in a past relationship where me being myself made the guy feel bad about himself, and it took me way too long to realize that that wasn’t my problem. I had tried to make myself smaller (not physically, although he did comment on my weight more than once) in order to try and help him feel better about himself, but I only ended up losing myself in the process. It also led to my resenting the relationship and ceasing to pursue my own goals. At the end of the day, he needed to work on his own self worth, and I needed to stop feeling bad about myself just because he couldn’t appreciate all of who I am.
There are a lot of aspects to my person that men find intimidating, but I can’t change who I am in order to appease someone else’s ego. I want to be with someone who is proud of me, not someone who feels the need to cut and tear me down in order to make himself feel better. I will continue to try and become better in every aspect of my life, and I need to be with someone who admires that rather than fears it. I also need to be with someone who is simultaneously trying to be the best version of himself.
So, until I find that mythical person, I am bound to a life of having no “plus one” at weddings. But the things I’ve mentioned in this post help me daily to enjoy my single status, and I’ve officially ceased fearing Spinsterhood. I very well may be single for an inordinately long time, but I don’t think that makes me less of an awesome person.
Being single doesn’t make me feel unworthy of love. It doesn’t make me feel unattractive or unwanted. In contrast, it makes me feel empowered because I am focusing on my future. A future that will eventually include the right person and be reflective of two individuals with adequate self worth and individual paths who have chosen to walk through life hand in hand as true partners. Him helping me achieve my goals, and me helping him achieve his in return. Mutual respect, mutual support, and neither party’s accomplishments detracting from the other’s sense of self pride or worth.
There is a song called “Stand Beside Me” by Jo Dee Messina (one of the female vocal powerhouses that I grew up listening to), and when this song was released, I was just a seven year old kid with curly hair belting it out in my dad’s red Jeep Grand Cherokee, completely unaware that 18 years later, the chorus to that song would become my motto in love: “I want a man to stand beside me; not in front of or behind me.” That’s what I want. And I am content to wait as long as it takes to find him.
So, my advice to anyone who finds themselves perpetually labelled “the single friend” is this: don’t worry about it. Focus on you. Love you. Because you are the longest term relationship you will ever have. Do. Not. Settle. One day you will find someone who accepts and loves all parts of your being and inspires you to be better. Wait for that person.
In the meantime, love yourself fiercely and unconditionally. Because you are beautiful, smart, funny, talented, and worthy of love. Especially your own. And there is nothing wrong with admitting that.
PS – here’s the link for “Stand Beside Me” if you’re interested in giving it a listen: Stand Beside Me by Jo Dee Messina