Learning to Appreciate the Gift of Singleness
"I had kissed too many frogs, telling my story too many times over way too many coffee dates, yet still not finding 'the one,' I figured I had the gift of singleness."
- Bonnie Gray, Whispers of Rest
The gift of singleness.
It sounded pathetic when I first I heard it. It felt like when your married friend says, "Marriage isn't all that it's cracked up to be." You don't believe them because it feels like a billionaire who has financial security and no student debt saying that their billions in the bank "isn't all that it's cracked up to be."
The cynic in me wanted to believe that singleness meant that I was lonely, a failure, and unworthy of love. Especially after so many guys had come and gone throughout the years. I would ask myself things like,
Why am I single?
Why are were my friends able to find love, and I was not?
Is there a sign on my forehead that says, "Dateable, but only to the uncommitted?"
It wasn't until my longest relationship ended that it all made it sense. Why singleness could be called "gift" from the heavens above, or something like that.
We sat in a cafe, eating chips and dip, nixing the coffee because it was 8 pm at night.
"How are you doing?" my friend asked. "Have you heard from him?"
She was referring to my ex, and no, I hadn't heard from him after two weeks of breaking up with him. I didn't expect to hear anything. I didn't even know what exes said to one another other after a break up.
"Give me my hoodie back!"
"I get the cat."
"I want my ticket to that concert!"
I didn't know. I just knew it was the right decision for the both us, and so it was a mutual break up. He was 300 miles away, and I wasn't going to be the first to send out a "How are you doing?" text after I pulled the plug.
"You know, I think I'll like being single," I told her. "I don't have to be committed to someone's schedule; I can do what I want."
I don't know if Vicky believed me when I first said it out loud. She knew me too well to know that singleness was never my forte.
"Seriously! I want to be single. I want to enjoy this time in my life. I'm excited! I can do things I want to do. Maybe I'll travel. Maybe I'll focus on writing again. Maybe I won't ever have to worry if my boyfriend in another state is not going to reply to a text of mine!"
We laughed. This was coming from me, who cried over FaceTime to her one night when all of my friends were getting married, and I was being made a bridesmaid for each of their weddings.
"Regan, I'm proud of you. I think you've grown so much."
I felt the cheesiness of Vicky's words butter me up; I knew I had come a long way.
Before my last relationship, I had spent all of my single years feeling like I was missing out on something spectacular about life, or a once in a lifetime opportunity in my twenties by not having a relationship. I came to find that with that mentality, I was losing precious time experiencing the joy of singleness while it lasted.
That was why after my third break up in three years, I decided I needed to take full advantage of this time in my life and use it to celebrate singleness.
I told my mom last week I was going to Nashville with my friend Sue.
"It's like using the money I would have used to see [insert ex's name] in another state. I think that's fair, right? I have no commitments to be anywhere anymore!"
"Oh that's great, honey!" she said. "Who's Sue, though?"
My mom never remembered my friend's names, but she remembered my ex's name, and how many times I went to see him in another state. I put so much time, money, and effort into our relationship; I put aside travel plans, writing dreams, and personal goals to invest in it. It wasn't the smartest thing I did considering I still have so much I want to achieve professionally and personally, but for what I learned from that relationship, I wouldn't take it back. It only pushed me further into understanding how singleness could be a good thing after all.
If it wasn't the trips I wanted to take, it was the writing goals I had. If it wasn't the writing goals I had, it was personal goal of putting my phone down and enjoying the day without it. No more "good morning" texts or calls to catch up with a romantic partner. I was free to lose track of my phone and forget which desk I placed it on at work until I realized it wasn't in my back pocket (that has happened several times now).
Maybe the ultimate gift of singleness was being able to stay true to myself and appreciate the relationships I already had in my life.
I could nurture friendships, take on new duties at work and church, and visit my family any night of the week. Whenever I was in a relationship, I found it hard to find a good balance between family, friends, and the relationship. I often had to give up investing in friendships that otherwise could have flourished more if I hadn't been in a relationship.
All of this is not to say relationships are bad or that I want to be single forever. In fact, it's the opposite. In my early twenties, I assumed something was wrong with me because I wasn't dating. In my mid-twenties, I assumed something was wrong with me because all of my relationships were failing.
But now, I'm reclaiming my old self from believing singleness is all about table for one, alone on a Friday night, petting my cat, waiting for Prince Charming to arrive, and having to be in a limbo of waiting to be happy.
Out of all the frogs that I had kissed, I had to realized none were right for me, and that was okay. I wasn't right for them either.
There was a gift to be found in being single this whole time, and I somehow missed it for most of my twenties. Today, I stand strongly with the idea that singleness is a gift and something to be valued.
If you're waiting for your Prince Charming, just wait a little while longer, and enjoy this season in life. Take that trip. Write that story. Do the extra hustle at work. Singleness truly is something to behold, especially when you have the power to make your life story the way you want to make it.
[Photo by Julie Bloom.]