Embracing your Independence
February 21, 2017
People belong in pairs. That’s what we have been taught our whole lives through media, religion, financial experts, science, social norms, etc. While I won’t tell you that coupling up is a bad idea, I will tell you that there is nothing wrong with having a “single” status. In fact, population studies have shown that roughly half of the adult population identify as single. This means that single is considered a norm.
I like to call myself “stubbornly single.” This is because I flat out refuse to settle for a lifestyle that is less valuable and meaningful than the one I am currently living. This view tends to get mixed reviews from my couple friends, with those in healthy relationships suddenly feeling very defensive and those with unhealthy relationships understanding exactly what I am referring to. I am so content and happy with who I am and my freedoms that I have that I am not going to pair-up unless I find someone that adds to my life instead of becomes a drain. I firmly believe that couples should be greater than the sum of their parts. As I assess potential partners, this is the filter I date through, and I am unapologetic about it.
When I meet a single person who feels less than because of their single status, I feel sad for them. Definitely not because they are single, but because they don’t realize how lucky they are to have an opportunity to focus on themselves and creating a great life! If I could have a soapbox that these people could hear me from, this is what I would recommend that they do to embrace their independence.
Do not put your life on pause
I have seen many friends reject job offers or promotions because they thought it may take too much time away from their potential dating life or takes them to a geographic location where they feel their dating pool is smaller than their current pool. I have also seen people who become complacent in lower paying jobs simply because they only have to support themselves and it turns out, they are pretty low maintenance! They think they will get a better job when they “need” one. I have news for you. When you’re single, your job is a huge part of your life. Make the best of the opportunity to make yourself successful. Even if you walk away from your career one day because it doesn’t fit your coupled lifestyle, you will never regret making the most of your career while you had the chance!
Find hobbies and passions
I’m not talking about the kind that you put on your Match.com profile, but you don’t really enjoy them, either. I mean find what makes your heart beat faster when the topic comes up. I have found I have a passion for gardening, revolutionary war era history and general US history, musical theater, hand-lettering, home improvement projects, homeopathic healing, and so many more things I didn’t know I loved! Why? Because I can fill my free-time with only what enriches me. When you are part of a couple or a parent, you often don’t get the opportunity for this type of self-indulgence. Embrace it!
Build your own “family”
But, expect that it will change through the years. Your friends become your family, and can be your partners in crime as you travel, celebrate holidays, brunch, and do other things that are typically reserved for families and couples. However, each one of your friends will have their own path that is different from yours. Don’t become bitter or resentful if your friends leave your circle because they change from a “me” to a “we.” Also, don’t reject friends just because they are married or because you get married. Marital status shouldn’t come between friendship, but it can often change what it looks like, and it is okay. If baby-craving is your problem, make meaningful relationships with nieces and nephews or friends’ children, and wear the “aunt’ or “uncle” title with pride!
Forget timelines and check-lists
There is no “right” time to get married. You will talk to some people who found their soul-mate at 18, and others who found them at 81. Plus, as I established already, half of the population is single. You’re in good company, and your chances are still pretty good that you will get married. I’ve seen several studies that say anywhere from 70-80% of people will get married at least once in their life. Remember, that doesn’t consider the people who couple up and never marry, but live their full lives together. Just because someone else thinks you should be married at a certain time or presents you with a checklist of what success looks like, doesn’t mean that is what is best for you. Don’t fall for it.
Get comfortable with going places solo
I will admit, I travel alone all the time for work, but I don’t travel solo for pleasure. We all have room for improvement! However, I love going to restaurants and movies by myself. It wasn’t as hard to get used to as I thought it might be. First, nobody is paying attention to the fact that you are by yourself. Second, you will be able to fully enjoy your food and your film without any interruption, and so the value of your experience quickly replaces any fear of being alone. To dip your toe into this type of activity, maybe try going to a restaurant with bar-styles seating. Many people who sit at the bars are dining alone, and most restaurants try to make sure their bartenders are people who like to carry on conversations with strangers. You will be pleasantly surprised by the great people you can meet!
Find opportunities for service and community involvement
Not only does this fill your schedule, but it also helps you have a purpose. Purpose is something that can be a little elusive when you are single, so I find it helpful to become a valuable part of your community or add value to someone else’s life through service.
At the end of the day, whether you are married, single, or in a situation where “it’s complicated,” remember your worth, remember your value, and don’t let anyone take it away from you. That is always yours to keep and protect, plus it helps you be a more valuable partner when that time comes.
With much love,