"Only What You Make Of It"

A little disclaimer before I begin. This post is NOT, I repeat, NOT the result of, nor a response to, any poor treatment of myself by a member of the opposite sex. It’s simply something I’ve discovered and has been in the forefront of my mind over the past few days due to overheard conversations, a newspaper article and some inner conflict.

So here goes…

I was in Starbucks one night last week, quickly picking up my favourite drink, a strawberries and creme frappuccino, during my hour break from work. I was quietly and patiently waiting for my drink to be made but couldn’t help eavesdropping on the conversation of the baristas. They were two girls, probably 19 or 20, who were carelessly gossiping about someone they knew. That’s nothing new. We all gossip. But it was these lines that made my ears perk up:

“I CANNOT work with her another minute knowing that she’s never had a boyfriend, never been in a relationship, never been kissed, never had a drink, never – you know… We have to fix this. Someone needs to take one for the team and fix this. It’s just…wrong.”

Well, damn. I probably blushed, even though I knew they weren’t talking about me; I didn’t know them. But they might as well have been talking about me. I got my drink shortly after my eavesdropping, muttered a ‘thanks’ and went back to work. I didn’t really think about their conversation much more as I went back to work as soon as I returned from my Starbucks run.

But it came back this weekend when I was browsing the books on a shelf at work. I noticed one entitled, “How to Be Single,” and was rather amused. After coming home from work that night, I sat down to browse The Globe and Mail and found Leah McLaren’s article about the same book: “Why are you single?”

I hate that question. I really, really do. But I didn’t realize WHY I hate it until all of the above happened and I began to think about my singledom.

I’ll admit that I’ve had moments where I’ve had pity parties and wondered, “When?? When will Prince Charming come and save me from my loneliness??” Those moments have been few and far between – thank God. But as my friends and siblings move in together, get married, have kids and pass all those relationship milestones I can only dream of, my continuing singledom has come to occupy more and more of my thoughts, becoming a source of frustration.

Why am I single? There are many reasons, some matter-of-fact, some deeply personal. Part of the reason is because I don’t believe in dating for the sake of dating. For me, relationships are long-term journeys, not short-term hook-ups. Another reason is the fact that I haven’t felt settled enough with myself or my life to be in a frame of mind where I’ve been ready to meet someone until the last two or three years. There are others, but I’m not going to discuss them. Ultimately, being single has really been my choice to this point, though I only realized that very, very recently.

But apparently I’m some sort of oddity for making this choice. Apparently there’s something ‘wrong’ with me. And THAT’S what pisses me off about the ‘why are you single?’ question. It’s assumed there’s something wrong with you if you are perpetually single: you aren’t pretty enough, you can’t please a guy, you’re too much like a guy, and on and on and on. In other words, you’re broken in some way. And you’re less of a woman because of it.

Society has been spinning this sh*t view of women for thousands of years. Women aren’t anything without a man. Men were the ticket to survival for centuries. It’s only in the past two or three decades that women have begun to prove they can survive on their own. The sad part, though, is that WOMEN THEMSELVES spout this crap.

I hate the idea that I’m only worth something as a woman, or a ‘complete’ woman, when I’m attached to a man. Sadly, I’d bought into the idea without even thinking. Until now.

So to those girls at Starbucks, the writer at The Globe, all those who have asked if there’s a ‘man’ in my life, I say: I’m single BECAUSE I WANT TO BE. Singledom is A CHOICE. And I, myself, will damn well choose when, and if, I want to end it. I am in a relationship with myself right now, and it sure as hell is more fulfilling than having some guy not return my phone calls while I pine for him, crying on my couching, wondering what in God’s name is so wrong with me that I’m not even worth dating to the bastard who won’t call me.

I’d never have thought it before, but I’m happy I’ve been single this long. It’s given me the chance to create my own identity, reinvent it umpteen times, become comfortable with myself and focus on me alone. In fact, I think I’m rather lucky to have had all this time with me. I’m pretty damn special.

And because I’ve had all this time to get to know myself (though it is a continual process that doesn’t stop ’til you’re dead), I will only involve myself in healthy relationships with men. I will know what I want, what I can live with, what I can’t and be all the more prepared to commit myself to someone and have children.

So that’s why I’m single. For my own good. It’s my choice. So quit assuming I’m broken. Quit feeling sorry for me. Quit trying to ‘fix me.’ Focus on you and ask yourself why my single status matters. You might be surprised by the answer.

As for me, I’ve got me. I’ll be quite alright.

  1. Avery said:

    I’m with you one million percent on this. I recently became single, and initially I was dating randomly, but after going for coffee with 3 different guys and all of them letting me down, I realized that I LIKE being single. I love that the only person I have to answer to is myself. Yes, I have to find my own things to do on evenings and weekends, but at least this way I expect to be alone.

  2. Anonymous said:

    The messed up thing about the social myths that make being single some sort of travesty is that they do so for both sexes – though unequally. Yes, it is more tolerable for a man to be single in that people sometimes assume he needs to ‘grow up’ before he can be in a relationship, but the stupid thing is that there are myths out there that say men need women to take care of them too, and that makes their being single bad in the long run as well. It doesn’t make the myths about women any better, but it does show how we spin really unhealthy stories for ourselves to try and fulfil…– Allie

  3. Megan said:

    AMEN! Yeah I’m married and I love it, but I REALLY had to take some time for myself after a couple of failed serious relationships in my way-too-young life (could have been married at 19…stupid!) that just didn’t work to figure out who the hell I was and what I wanted before moving on. And if I hadn’t met my “prince charming” when I did, I would STILL be proudly single. Dale was just too good to pass up though 🙂

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