It’s finally happened. Who am I kidding, it’s been happening for years.
I’ve finally reached the age where my singleness has become a source of embarrassment.
The age in the movies where it’s portrayed as weird that you’re not bringing someone home for the holidays.
I never thought I’d be that person. The person who ever so noticeably avoids the candy aisle around mid-February, or who sometimes eats drive through tacos alone on Fridays.
Two by two, they loaded the animals on to Noah’s Ark and two by two, couples waltz through life; dancing around me like visions of plum fairy duets. The days where third wheeling meant catching a movie with my best friend and her boyfriend are gone. These days, third-wheeling is crashing dinner at my closest girl friends’s house while she and her husband watch New Girl episodes in their living room. Not that I’m complaining. But it has become startlingly clear to me that I have attained third wheel status of Marshall, Lily and Ted proportions.
I ask myself, “When did this happen? Where did the years go? Where did I go wrong? How do I fix this?” Is singleness even something that needs fixing?
Why is it that we live in a world where singleness has become “Singleness,” a thing that needs to be resolved? As if it were a conflict or a problem, rather than a current affair of life? Why is Singleness deemed a phase, like a bad haircut–something that needs to be grown out of?
Why are these questions invoking feelings of shame and uncomfortability in some of you even as you read them?
I’ve heard it all before. “As soon as you’re satisfied in Him, God will bring someone into your life.” As if love from another human being is a reward from God that one must earn by pleasing Him with good behavior. “Once you become comfortable with who you are, the right person will come along.” As if there is a cosmic thermometer stuck in me that will signal “ready” when I’ve achieved acceptable tempers and temperatures.
As Paige Benton Brown noted in her stellar article, Singled Out by God for Good, the idea of having to become someone wonderful in order to deserve someone wonderful is a theological fallacy. If not just entirely ridiculous.
“Beneath these statements is the premise that single life is a state of deprivation for people who are not yet fully formed enough for marriage.”
Perhaps you are as I; aware that you are fully formed and comfortable enough in your own skin to get by. What then, for those who are content and yet, dissatisfied?
There seems to be a certain duplicity to Singleness.
If I am happy in my Singleness, it’s often viewed as a front. A “good face” to be put on.
If I’m bothered by it, I’m too co-dependent; not satisfied with the hand that life has dealt me or not appreciative of the plan God has ordained for me.
If I’m indifferent about my Singleness, I’m in denial, calloused, “jaded” or “in a rut.” Someone who has closed off her heart; wounded too many times.
If I’m focused on it, I’m obsessive.
Knowing that I couldn’t possibly be alone in my momentary dips into despair, I decided to ask around. I scrutinized my contacts list, poring over friends lists. From the proverbial horse’s mouth, what are some outstanding challenges a 2015 single may face that would give the impression Singlehood is something in need of fixing?
Even in my innocent asking, the skewed perception of Singleness reared its condescending stereotyping head. Reactions from, “Are you okay?” to “It’s one of those night, huh?” told me in not so many words, exactly what people thought of my… condition. Beneath the smart of their remarks (which I thought were rather less than), I knew their responses came from a place of concern and caring.
Despite initial reactions, I continued to make my to appeal to the masses. The results? Admission after relatable admission of numerous thoughts that have crossed my own mind in recent years.
Some were comical:
- “Seeing distant family members and being asked if I have a boyfriend. Then, after saying no, being asked if I have a girlfriend.” – Bella M., 21
- “Having children is a bit harder when you’re single.” – Jared W., 26
- “They always tell you that Jesus is enough. That Jesus is your spouse. That He loves you. That’s true. But you can’t cuddle with Jesus on a Friday night.” – Anonymous, 26
- “Sappy social media posts. I don’t wanna see how much you love your husband every day. Or your boyfriend. Or kissing pictures. Keep that for your real life not social media. Like. Get a card. Or a room. Whatever you’re in the mood for.” – Sharon M., 23
- “Sex. Or lack thereof.” – (Almost Everyone)
Some were serious:
- “All of your friend’s lives are way ahead of you. My friend’s kids will be teenagers by the time I have any, if I do…” – Anonymous, 30
- “It’s like I’m stuck between wanting to work on myself, do my own thing, accomplish all I want to do in my life… and not wanting to have to do all of those things all by myself.” – Ella E., 26
- “[It feels] like these are the best years of your life but you don’t get to share them with someone. (Aka the dating life!) [And] not feeling as beautiful because you don’t have someone who’s mesmerized by you.” – Asher F., 24
- “[I’m] wanting to be codependent with someone but also having a love affair with independence and doing whatever I please because, what the heck, I’m only 21.” – Charlotte D., 21
- “Not having someone to come home to.” – Timothy C., 26
- “I just try to stay positive.” – Tab B., 23
- “Wondering when will it be my turn?” – Owen M., 30
- “Is it the way I look?” – Kyle L., 28
- “Explaining to my mom for the hundredth time how there is seriously nothing wrong with me.” – Anonymous, 26
- “Wondering if I’m going to have to die alone.” – Anonymous, 28
- “Table for one, please.” – Anonymous, 26
While the confessions above range from irritating/frustrating at best, and heartrending at worst, not one of them is cause for concern or pity.
So, why do we sigh and shake our heads when we talk about singles in hushed tones, as if God is less good to those who are at this life “alone?”
When did Singleness become equivalent to ugly, alone or unloved? Better yet, why does Singleness feel like staying behind a grade?
Can it be, that we as a people have become so conditioned to the programmed “next step” approach to life, that the idea of college and career aged singleness seems like backpedalling? A progress plateau? A second rate plan, for a second best life?
Nonsense. Enough of the pity, self and imposed alike. The idea of one lifestyle being better or worse berates us as individuals and belittles God’s hand in the plan for our lives. We are not less than or left behind. And, it is time we start acting like it.
Do not console us in our Singleness. We are not in a lesser condition because we are not a part of a pair.
Do not be proud of us for our Singleness either. We are not “forging our own path,” as if continuing on with our live unwed is a massively impressive accomplishment compared to those who have a spouse to walk them through it.
We are merely forging a path. Each of us the same, only different.
Consensus: I am a happy, fulfilled Single.
That being said, I am neither pleased by it, nor completely satisfied in it.
This article does not contain 10 Easy Steps to Manage Singleness, nor was it written to sympathize to Singleness’ perceived plight. This article was written to relate, not to rally. It was written both to vent and, perhaps, vindicate. It was written on the off chance that my 53 year old, grandchild-less mother will read it and finally understand that being single doesn’t mean that I’m broken or sad.
Perhaps then, she’ll stop seeing me that way every time she asks if I still am.
Two by two may have been how they got the animals on to Noah’s Ark, but one by one is how we enter and exit this crazy thing called life. So you’re a one man show for now. Big deal. You tell your mama that that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Remembering that, my friends, is how you win at being single… when you’re seeing double.
Table for one, please.