Happy Singles Awareness Day
Valentines Day. Every singles favourite day of the year. A day that seemingly amplifies the fact that we (single people) "lack" a partner to do life with. But much like Mother's day and Father's day aren't there to exclude people who aren't parents, I don't think its intention is to highlight our own insecurity. It's actually meant to celebrate love and it is my whole hearted belief that you don't need to be in a romantic relationship to celebrate love. Maybe some of us need to start with some self love to rid ourselves of the insecurity of being alone? On this Valentines Day, February 14, of 2021 the year of our Lord I've revamped an old article because being a healthier single person can only help when you enter into a relationship. If you are single here are a few thoughts I've learned along the way.
I intentionally decided to do seven tips, because biblically speaking seven is the number of completion and while I feel like others help make our lives better God has created us as complete people....(maybe a work in progress but not something that needs another component to make it whole). Let it be said I have no PHD in relational behaviour, these are just my observations as a happily single gal living life to the fullest.
#1 Don't be easily offended
When people ask you why you aren't married yet, or try to dig into the depths of your depravity that you MUST have because you SHOULD be married by now... don't be offended. Rather turn the conversation in a way that highlights the things you love about being single. I love the freedom. I get to do what I want when I want to do it, without being accountable t someone else. I also enjoy spending time with all sorts of different people and their families, and becoming auntie Shirlz to many of my friends kids. If it is your desire to get married, sign them up for wife or husband hunting. My friend's mother-in-law tells me she's praying for my husband every time I see her. It's super sweet and always smile and say thank you. Rather than get offended I am grateful that she takes the time to think about and pray for me.
#1B Don't get the hate on for Valentines Day. If you get lonely or sad make a Galentines Day with the gal pals. Or as I like to call it Singles Awareness Day...and still go out with my friends. Here's a Singles Awareness freebie: Enjoy the odd rom com or chick flick, but try not to get addicted to romance...while it is out there, real romance is rarely portrayed realistically in the movies. Especially as women we get sucked into the addiction of romance and it can lead to high expectations that our future spouse will find hard to maintain. It can also amplify your aloneness and create sadness so, take inventory of how much you are escaping into a fantasy world. (Where's that little hand up emoji?...can I get an amen?)
#2 Embrace the things you do love about being single
Enjoy the season you are in and take the opportunities to do things that a family might hinder later on. Make a list. Create a "Things I'd like to Accomplish While I'm Single," bucket list. If you aren't into lists, set goals or find whatever it is that brings you joy and be happy. I love being able to travel and spend money. While Covid has put an end to that for now, I am taking advantage of not spending money.
I also love having alone time and being able to be selfish...because I don't have the responsibility of taking care of another person. Currently I am revisiting this writing thing and I have copious amounts of time to put into it; while this could be done with a family, (and MANY people do it,) I'm taking advantage of my current state of singleness.
I enjoy the quiet. My house is peaceful and other than my dog whining there is no extra noise, demands and people seeking my attention.
#3 Don't hesitate to do things you want because you are waiting for someone else
Okay if what you want is to be married you have to wait for someone...but otherwise...go for it. I pictured myself hiking Diamond Head in Hawaii for this reason. I was on the trip with a friend and she didn't want to do it and I did. I didn't make her bad for not wanting to go but I REALLY wanted to go. If it hadn't mattered to me I would've done something else. I happily hiked and she was content to catch some rays by the pool...or the beach? I couldn't tell ya. I have travelled alone and met spectacular people or just enjoyed the time with nature or the fascination with history and architecture. I have travelled with people and also had an amazing time. There is a lot to be said for shared experiences, while those are my preference they are not required for me to pursue doing things I really want to do. Even if its going to a movie alone or hiking a volcano. I'll admit it took me some practice, but in my college days, constantly surrounded by people, I would take myself on a date. I'd go for dinner and movie out of town. It was glorious, and one of the best self care things I ever did. It helped me get over being uncomfortable being alone. Back then I couldn't hide in my phone I just had to entertain myself. I also had practice eating solo on road trips. There comes a point when its no longer scary it's liberating. It also invites conversations with people you may have never otherwise met and you may receive wisdom you never knew you needed or help someone else work through their thing. But whatever you are doing you don't have to wait for others to do it too, and try taking yourself on a date.
#4 Keep a balanced range of friends
I have married friends, widowed friends, divorced friends, newly wed friends, dating friends, single friends. Younger friends, older friends. Guy friends, gal friends. Co-worker friends, hobby friends, friends from high school, friends in high school, friends from college, friends who are kids of my friends. Not all of these people are on the forefront of my mind daily, but I touch base with them. I have my core...my inner circle... The people who are often on the forefront of my mind. They are my stability and they are all in various walks of life. I learned the lesson that just because you are in a different season of life it doesn't mean we don't have things to offer each other. The truth of it is, we probably have more to offer each other. I have many friendships I let drift away because we no longer had anything in common after they got married. It's not true. Granted friends will drift, but don't let their marital status be a reason for it.
Another important tip within the tip: Embrace being a wheel. I'd avoid doing things with friends because I didn't want to be a third or fifth wheel, but if they are inviting you, embrace the added company and get to know your friend's person... You are not an after thought, they want to spend time with you, take them up on it.
#5 Learn to communicate your needs to your friends
The people in your life cannot read your mind, and many of us think, "They should just know..." I'm telling you they don't. You need to tell them. Likewise you need to listen when they also express a need. Some of us learn things the hard way and try to manipulate what we want. In my experience its way faster to be vulnerable and say things like, I'm lonely and need some quality time. Or ask them to check in on you every other week for accountability.
In this point I want to point out two myths:
1 Singleness = loneliness.
2 Married People are never lonely.
First just because you are single doesn't automatically mean you are lonely, and if you are it doesn't have to be, but you may have to take initiative to address being lonely.
Second you can be in a relationship and still feel alone. So learn the skill of communicating your needs to your friends while you are single and it will make you a better spouse someday. (I think)
#6 Be unapologetically You with some humility
Some of us are chameleons who can work a room and adapt to our surroundings with ease and comfort. Others would rather hide in the corner. Spotlight or shadows. Personality, attachments, gifts and talents. quirks and faults, downfalls and successes. Embrace who you are. Learn the skill of reflection. Work on the things that need improvement and celebrate the things you are already doing well. I have a tattoo of a tree on my forearm, its to remind me that I'm still growing, a work in progress but already beautiful. Don't apologize for who you are, but also be humble enough to re-evaluate and adjust. Do the work to become the healthiest you, not for someone else but for you.
#7 Recognize you are never alone
Especially if you are reading this from a basis of faith, but even if you are not, I'm here to tell you God is God Emmanuel. Which means God with us. I pray this often. "God come into this situation and be God Emmanuel...the God who is with us, or me." That is true of anyone in any circumstance, not just the single people out there. He is WITH you. ("With" my favourite preposition...because sometimes all you need is someone to be WITH you, not a spousal someone necessarily...but the WITH that implies presence of being together) This is the God I adore and follow, the one who is personal and puts the lonely in families. When you have moments when you feel lonely, know you are in good company. I picked a few: Joseph, Daniel, Jonah, Jesus. These are all people who experienced parts of their story feeling lonely. Jospeh in a pit, Daniel in den, Jonah in a fish, and Jesus in the garden. It's not uncommon, to feel lonely, but recognize this was only a piece of their whole story. Joseph eventually reunites with his family, Daniel gets out of the den with some new furry friends, Jonah finds the shore of Ninevah and starts one of the largest revivals recorded, and Jesus...He has a few more days of lonely, before the resurrection of Easter, and yet he ends up rejoicing with his friends in the upper room, surrounded by people who loved him deeply. Eventually, Jesus is reunited with God the Father where He is love. Not loved...God is love. Now there's a reunion I'm signing up for. But for now I take comfort that God is WITH me, WITH you WITH all of us.
Happy Valentines Day!