Grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, retire, die. Sound familiar? Sound bleak? Maybe, maybe not.
Life is all about growing: growing in, growing out, growing up. You grow up with certain ideas and concepts, that you either grow into (faith, politics, family values, styles, mannerisms, etc.) or out of (faith, politics, Santa Clause, etc.). The idea that a relationship was an important part of life is something that I grew out of.
This is not to say that I don’t think relationships are important! Or valuable! They certainly are for different people (think: those that want kids). My point is that being single has it’s own importance, whether you find yourself single for a few weeks, a few years, or the majority of your life. It’s a time to embrace and utilize, rather than a nightmarish storm of pessimism and self-pity.
Three years ago, I left the one relationship I’ve ever had (a three-month long “relationship” in high school barely counts), which had lasted almost a year and a half. It should have ended sooner, but that’s a story for another day. I’m definitely not a relationship expert, and I’m not even an expert on being single: what I am is an optimist. So much so, that I haven’t even pursued a relationship these past three years (note: I also have not avoided it or turned down possibilities for reasons other than it (he) wasn’t right for me).
Want to be an optimist of your current, unattached lifestyle? Here are the top three things I like to focus on to make every day feel purposeful and wonderful.
1. Your time, your way
SomethingI absolutely love about my current, unattached lifestyle is being able to do anything at the drop of a hat. A friend needs a last minute date to a wedding? I’m in. Flights to Vegas are only $50 this weekend? Sold. Someone Snapchats Disney’s Tarzan through a wine glass and you invite yourself over? That’s the story of how I became best friends with Elena. Because I’m single, I don’t feel the pressure to attend someone else’s work events, family events, or any other sort of event just because I’m in a relationship with them. I can leave as early or stay as late at a party or dinner as I want to, go to bed and wake up when I want to, and plan my entire schedule around my needs and wants.
And there’s no guilt attached to it! I can have as many girl’s nights a week as I want to, without having to exchange for his guy’s nights. There’s no edging out of conversations or turning down an offer for a dance or a drink because my partner might be jealous or I’m giving off the wrong vibes (which, in my opinion, is an issue all of it’s own, but that’s neither here nor there). The way I decide to spend my time and energy is entirely my own, and that’s a freedom I love.
When you’re single, you often have to do everything yourself: do your own chores, kill your own spiders, pay for your own movie ticket, pick yourself up when you’re down, and satisfy your own needs. Doesn’t sound like a benefit? Hear me out.
I have become a much stronger, better, and more confident person in the time that I’ve been single than when I was in a relationship. Because I’ve had to. I don’t have anyone telling me I look beautiful or giving me other affirmations, so I have to do that for myself. I had to figure out how to build furniture, take care of my car, and pay for my solo vacations by myself. When I’ve had a bad day, I’ve had to calm myself down, build myself up, and carry on by myself. Yes, I have amazing friends and family who have and always will be there for me, so I’m not really on my own, but there’s something empowering about doing things for yourself. It took time, but my self-confidence is ten times stronger than when I had a boyfriend.
Another hidden benefit from this? When it does come time for me to have a relationship again, I’m not going to settle for anything less than awesomeness, because that’s what I am. I don’t need anyone, so I won’t settle for just anyone. Also, I’ll be able to offer more than I take: I can have fun and be happy without taking payments of affirmation or support along the way. In short: I’m a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man.
3. Be YOU!
Everyone is constantly told to “be yourself”, but it’s often a lot harder than it sounds. When you’re in a relationship, you often find yourself doing things for your partner (especially in the beginning stages) that aren’t what you would do on your own. You might dress up or dress down a little more when going out, shave more often, wear your hair a certain way, or disguise your disgusting, yet natural, bodily functions. When you’re single, you only have to worry about your own self-loathing when settling down in pajama shorts that don’t hide your unshaven legs for an all-day Netflix marathon, next to a mountain of snacks that taste so good but are bound to make you gassy. There’s no having to put on a happy face for someone else or hanging out with someone else’s friends when you don’t share the mutual interest. It’s an unencumbered paradise.
Also, no more worrying about living out of an overnight bag or a drawer! When you’re single, you get to shower in your shower and sleep in your bed. You know exactly how the towels have been used, how recently the sheets have been changed, what that smell is, and how to turn on the hot water. You don’t have to differentiate between how to load their dishwasher versus yours, sleep only on one side of the bed, or listen to their music playlists. Finally, you get to unapologetically be yourself.
Life and happiness are about perspective. If you perceive your romantic situation or lack thereof as good, then it is! I’d love to hear your thoughts and reasons for loving singlehood, so comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.