We ALL come into this world single. We are born as an independent human with our own characteristics, totally unique to ourselves. We are born with our very own likes and dislikes, thoughts and dreams.
No one can ever say they have never been single.
Even as we start developing hormones and feelings, being influenced by movies and gossip columns, story lines and developing an idea of what “love is”, we still may find ourselves single. Later on in life we go in and out of singlehood. Changing one’s “status” (I hate that it’s referred to as a status!) to single is usually a result of a breakup, a divorce, a separation, a loss of some sort, or death. It’s a result of often very intense grief and is often unexpected and accompanied with some of the most painful feelings and emotions, so to be single is often, to be sad.
When we look at reasons why we may find ourselves single, It makes sense to equate being single with being sad, lonely, alone and miserable – to name a few.
I have to stop here for a second and point out how much influence we have, starting at a very young age, that being single is a punishment, or at the very least, the lesser of the two options of single or taken.
We start out with books as a kid, or toys. For me it was making story lines of Ken and Barbie, I played “house” with all my dolls as my babies and my “husband” was always gone away at work but I knew I loved him dearly! My books always had a mommy and a daddy bear, or a mommy and a daddy fox. Then my favorite disney movies had all these beautiful princesses that were rescued out of singleness by a very strong and “masculine” hero. Curses were broken with kisses, entire empires and castles were magically reborn and everyone was happier because of a single kiss! Women were RESCUED out of singleness!
Then it was teen bop and tiger beat that gave me all the gossip on which celebrity was dating who, Justin and Brittany, Jessica and Nick, oh how I envied them! Once I was over disney movies, I fell into the rom com and chick flick scene of the 90s, where again, I was told that you are happier and more whole when you’re with someone.
In real life there were awkward school dances where I couldn’t stand the thought of not being asked to dance, so I opted to spend most of the dance in the hallways with my friends or the bathroom instead of against the gymnasium walls, covered in those soft matts. In highschool the dances got more intimidating if you were single. Then there was prom. I didn’t have a date. I went with my friends and all their dates and kept a smile plastered on my face all night so I didn’t look like the loser I felt I was.
In college there was even more of a pressure to find a boyfriend. My experience was “extra pressured” because my very first year of post secondary school was at a bible college, or as people more commonly refer to it as: “Bridal College”, because unlike other schools, the idea here is to find a mate, graduate, and start a family. It was here that I had my first real heartbreak. We were really good friends and I couldn’t decipher the line between a good friend and a potential future husband. I was so hopeful and fell so fast, only to find out he liked another girl and only saw me as a good friend. This crushed me. This and the fact that after telling me “you’re a great friend”, he started dating his crush a week later and I had to see them together every single day at school as I pretended I was fine.
I was 25 when I had my first real boyfriend, years behind my peers. I felt pressured to find someone so I could fit in. I was attending bridal and baby showers at least every month if not every weekend. I knew I wasn’t at the stage of celebrating milestones in my own relationship yet, but I had a boyfriend and that was everything I wanted at that time.
When I was younger I wrote several lists of what I wanted in a future husband. My lists were so long and often contained things that were straight out of a movie and weren’t impossible but were next to it. I gave myself excuses for dating someone who didn’t check half the boxes on the list because I just didn’t want to be single anymore.
Four years later, I found myself single again. It’s a weird place to be. I spent 25 years of my life being single and only 4 in a relationship but coming back to singlehood was different this time. I was older, I had a biological clock ticking, I was almost the “very scary” age of 30, I had to “start over” from “whats your favorite colour” and “what do you do for a living” in the dating pool. I had no idea how to do anything, I didn’t know what felt right, I didn’t know what was right, how much time to wait before “getting out there”, how much time I should give myself to be single. Everything was confusing and it didn’t even cross my mind that I would be single for a long time again. I assumed I’d date a bit and then meet my next boyfriend. I was turning 30! I had to find someone else quick!
It never occured to me that I could be single for years to come after this, or that this time around my “single season” would be the perfect time for me to find myself. A time to discover who I was, what I loved, and what I didn’t. It didn’t occur to me that singleness could be a gift. A gift that very few people get to experience. One that would take me all over Canada doing things I loved and being able to experience incredible things I couldn’t dream of. I will always be so grateful for that.
Now I’m in a season on singleness inside my season of singleness where I am losing the contentment and seeing it as a “gift”. I have been single for over seven years now. That seems crazy to write out. On one hand I’m embarrassed. I’ve put myself out there, I’ve been on a few dates, I’ve been set up, I’ve even done the apps in phases. I have done therapy and soul searching, read books, listened to podcasts, done “the work”, sorted through things from childhood, watched the ted talks, even did some courses and I am still single – I’ve even removed a bunch of boxes from my list ;). Seven years alone…and counting.
At times I feel like am imposter. For years I have preached how great it is to be single. How it’s not a punishment but a gift! So to admit this feels contradicting, but I am ready for a different season. I feel ready and I’m at a point now where I’m starting to feel feelings of loneliness creep up more often, I feel anxiety around not finding someone to share my life with – not the end of the world but I know I want this. I feel disappointment in myself, I start to question my value and my worth and my purpose. I have started to question my identity – am I really grateful for my single “status” or am I just trying to cover up my feelings of loneliness and fake it so people don’t ask me how I’m really doing.
This is how I always pictured being single to be: Feeling lonely and alone and unwanted.
So now I’m at a bit of a roadblock. Not many of my peers can say they’ve been single this long. Even the ones who relate to me have just been single for a few months, maybe a few years. I feel like I’m the captain of the singles club but I don’t like this role and didn’t sign up for it.
So ya, maybe the books and the movies and the story lines were right. Singleness can be lonely and “less than” at times. Singleness can be uncomfortable, scary, embarrassing, unpopular, and isolating, but people in relationships feel all those things too. Those are human emotions we feel no matter what “status” we hold.
If you’re single, it’s hard, I know. If you’re in a relationship, that’s hard too, I know.
Singleness is a gift, and its a season, and it’s okay to relish all your alone time and bask in your freedom. It’s also okay to be lonely sometimes and feel lost and anxious about the future and if you’re ever going to find someone.
Here’s to breaking down the singlehood stigma, being honest and vulnerable in any season we are in, and feeling parallel feelings of happiness and loneliness AT THE SAME TIME in our season of single. 🥂