There was once a time when I used to think that my being single meant I was failing in life. When I hit about sixteen, suddenly being alone seemed to automatically imply, both to myself and to others, that I was lonely. I wasn’t, really, but that was probably the first time I started to want more from my life, that I discovered an ‘ultra-crush’ and thought, “I really, really, really like you,” Carly-Rae Jepsen-style.
I started wistfully dreaming about finding a hand to hold or even just someone to do stupid or vaguely inappropriate things with. You know, someone to love, share all my secrets with, confess my fears to and bounce my thoughts off when they get too much to contain within the fragile confines of my own mind. I guess I was in search of someone to call my own and know better than I would ever hope to know myself.
It was your typical teenage love/angst scenario, born of years of being spoon-fed romantic notions. As a girl, this all started when I was old enough to comprehend what a passionate kiss and happily ever after between a Disney princess and prince was really all about.
Pop culture – and in truth, modern society – had indoctrinated me into believing that, when I was old enough, my prince would come or I, the quintessential damsel-in-distress, would stumble into the arms of a knight in shining armour and ride off into the sunset… Well, that never quite happened. (I’m twenty-two and still waiting, Prince Charming… so what happened, honey, did you get lost along the way?)
Why? Oh, well, there are lots of personal reasons but mainly it’s because, at some point, I quite subconsciously realised I didn’t need a man to save me (I am woman, hear me roar) and secondly, because chivalrous knights are in rather short supply these days – but it’s down to so much more than that.
Every time I would get close to a potential something, as you might call it, I would sabotage it unintentionally (and thanks largely to my insecurities) but I finally admitted to myself that hey, maybe I actually wasn’t quite ready to have my heart invaded or to go through all those giddy emotions with someone and then watch it fall apart in a week, a month or year’s time. I wasn’t ready to be left with a list of exes and ohs and relationship regrets.
Today, I’m glad I don’t have to pretend to be bitter and venomous about my so-called ‘ex’… It’s not because my ex was a good or a bad person (though isn’t it funny how we can like or even love someone while we are with them but then, once we break up, they suddenly become the devil reincarnated, wouldn’t you know?) but rather because well, he doesn’t exist and I hope he never does.
I hope all this waiting will someday mean that, when I do finally find someone (who actually reciprocates my feelings), it’ll be “together to the end”, with lots of teasing laughter, crazy emotion and I-won’t-give-on-us moments in between. After all, I’m a one-track kinda girl, looking for my two-ply. (Thanks, Train… your songs have and always will be the soundtrack to all my romantic endeavours.)
I am really thankful that I have never had to break up with someone, as I think it must be awful and truthfully, I’d hate to break someone’s heart or feel ‘compelled’ to be bitter and resentful towards someone who once might have been my ‘everything’… but then again, I’m a naturally forgiving and loving person so I don’t think hating The-One-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (I mean, isn’t that always how one’s friends seem to refer to the guy/girl after any rollercoaster break-up and subsequent tequila tears?) will ever be my last resort.
That’s not to say I haven’t had my heart broken but well, I’ve kept it as safe as can be… I think I have only really and truly fallen in love once and I made such a mess of it that I am in no real hurry to do a repeat – but the niggling fact remains that yes, I do still experience that familiar, dull pang known to single people the world over when I walk past a young couple who look madly in love.
I often want to gag when I see lovers stealing stolen kisses (can’t we just outlaw public gestures of affection already; have a heart for single or broken-hearted people everywhere) and though I generally pretend it doesn’t bother me (and most of the time, it honestly doesn’t) – occasionally, it does sadden or annoy me. I am only human after all.
That said, I also see more and more couples fighting or arguing in public, looking downright miserable and hear of terrible break-ups and when this happens, I mentally raise my hands to the heavens and silently give thanks or think: “I’m good single, Lord. I’m good! Hold fire with my future someone, please!”
Last night, something happened outside my sheltered single world that really unsettled me. I saw a couple fighting… badly. It’s that kind of scary domestic row, which builds and builds into something really nasty and, as a helpless bystander, you think love could never possibly have existed there because love is kind, gentle and uplifting, it soothes and comforts and, though it sees another’s imperfections, it chooses to love them as if they were, in fact, perfections (or at least vaguely cute or lovable pet-hates ;)).
Yet that was not what filled me with horror – it was the fact that, although I didn’t want to listen, look or get involved, it was all so loud and hateful that I was petrified I’d end up having to ring the police to (please) come and separate these poor people from one another.
I wasn’t terrified because of the violent nature of the dispute (though that still shook me) but rather because of the anger, the brokenness and blatant hatred spewing forth between them, creating a distance that no amount of apology, love or ‘kiss-and-make-up’ mentality will ever truly bridge. That is a truly tainted love and it is very rarely salvageable.
With much swearing, arm tugging and slamming of doors, they vanished back into the night and I tried to pretend that I wasn’t rattled to my core – but since I am really shoddy at playing pretend and usually my emotions are more obvious and perceptible than I would best like, I must confess I failed to even do that.
Still… it made me reflect once again on the notion that just because you are with someone, the world is not suddenly a better place and sadly, sometimes people really are better off on their own… My heart breaks for that couple because I know it must be terrible to be together and feel so utterly alone.
So yes, sometimes I get a little lonely but I’m not alone in this great, big world, not by a long shot. I have friends and loved ones who blow my mind with their awesome ways and who willingly partake in my adventures.
Okay, so maybe I don’t have cuddle sessions on the couch on Saturday nights and binge-watch Game of Thrones or Poldark (though I have a giant fluffy dragon and he takes up half my bed anyway) but I now know that I have a life that is as happy and full as I decide to make it and, although sometimes I think I might be missing someone I might not even know yet, the fact of the matter remains that ‘singledom’ has a far worse ‘rep.’ than it deserves. It’s painted as this dreadful time in our teen or adult lives when, in fact, it is actually sometimes a far happier time than our dating or married lives will be.
Now, that is not to say that you can’t have your cake and eat it when it comes to romantic relationships but maybe it’s time for us to realise that being single does not make us superfluous as people, nor does it mean that you are inferior to all your friends who are getting engaged, married or pregnant left, right and centre… it simply means that it hasn’t happened for you yet or that you get to take a breather before you dive back into the often-treacherous waters of modern-day dating and love in your teens, twenties, thirties and even beyond.
Towards the latter part of 2015, I realised that, instead of pining at home on weekends and wishing I had someone to take me on a Sunday (ocean) drive or for an impromptu picnic in the park, I could go out and do things on my own (shock, gasp, horror, right?) and still have a blast.
I started hiking and exploring my city or reading and binge-watching series anyway, doing the things that made me happiest and when I did that, when I stopped feeling like I needed someone to make me more complete (because Heaven knows, I do not need someone to complete me… To fulfill or better me, perhaps, but not to complete me. That’s utter bull… we are already complete, functioning individuals and no one person is going to alter your wholeness), I started to realise I had precisely what I needed during that point of my life and, though I will always personally believe in soul mates and lasting love, I can’t help but feel that we are as self-fulfilled as we set our minds to be.
I mean, say we do find that perfect, elusive relationship, shouldn’t we accept that we might end up with someone who shares none of our favourite pastimes, although they are a good fit for us… so what are we going to do? Give up everything we enjoy just to be more like them or can we instead learn to do new things with someone and allow for that most necessary little give-and-take?
Will you give up on your personal goals and future dreams in order to be a stay-at-home dad purely because your wife wants to ascend the corporate ladder in stilettos? I hope not – at least, do it but don’t do it unless it is something you are both content with.
Because, if a person doesn’t help you to reach your goals or to seize fast to your dreams, then they do not have your (or the relationship’s) best interests at heart… they are only thinking of themselves and when that happens, you’re honestly better off on your own because no love is actually better than a selfish ‘love’.
I would love to learn more about another career if that’s what my potential love interest is into but it doesn’t mean that I am going to drop my career like a hot cake and change myself just so that I can do and be everything he favours as a person.
If he’s not into sport, tough luck because I am and I won’t stop watching football or being crazy about cricket simply because he prefers rugby or maybe doesn’t even like sport at all. I won’t give up my mix of music just because he’s only into jazz or heavy metal… We should not change to fit someone’s ideal world, nor should we try to change them.
Love isn’t about renovating that quaint, run-down cottage – it’s about restoring it and accepting what existed there long before you moved your baggage in. It is about helping it to become something even more beautiful. I hope we will all change for the people we love but I also hope that it will be a natural, freeing transformation rather than something we get strong-armed into.
This brings me to my next point: ‘singlehood’ is actually the best and only real opportunity you will have to become a better, well-rounded person or to improve on the things that you (or maybe even someone who cares for you) feel leaves something to be desired. I’m not talking about looks here, rather about your inner character – but it is also fun to experiment with your wardrobe, personal tastes and even hairstyles when you are single because there’s no one to tell you what to wear or do.
There’s no one to look good for and try impress other than yourself and trust me, that is actually extremely liberating. As much as you will love trying to look good for someone else (and you should), you will never feel quite as amazing as you will when you dress nicely just so you can feel good about yourself or even for the hell of it. (And yes, we perennially single people actually do this.)
Most importantly though, it is so wonderful to realise that just because you are alone, does not mean you are lonely and that being single is a licence to live, love and learn more about yourself and the world you occupy more than any other stage of your teenage or adult life because, when you are with someone, you do things together, your worlds becomes intertwined and there’s so much more to worry about and juggle… being single, well, it takes a lot off your plate and comes with its own perks – and yes, you guessed it, free ‘me’ time is most definitely one of them.
So whilst this is not a guide on how to be single (watch the movie for that), it is my way of declaring that, this year, my singleness isn’t going to define or cripple me anymore. Instead, it will allow me to focus on myself and all the things I must work on improving before I find my person and, though I still really do want to do just that, I am perfectly okay on my own until he gets here – and between you and me, I’ve survived my entire tween to early adult lifetime quite well on my own, so I think I’ll be okay for another few months or years yet. 🙂
I now wholeheartedly believe that ‘singlehood’ is not a death sentence but rather a life sentence and until you find someone ‘cuddleworthy’ (as I like to say) or who will be the rumble to your thunder, I hope that you, too, will learn to be happy and love life all on your lonesome until they arrive.
Posted from WordPress for Android by T.A.Ryan