I'll be the first to admit it, being single is hard. And y'all, I couldn't be more single if I tried.
Yes, my life is kick ass. Yes, I love living it. Yes, I'm having a dang good time. But that doesn't mean I don't hope and wish and pray and sometimes halfway beg God for someone to share this good time with.
Beyonce never told us that being a single lady wasn't all a fun little dance. She forgot to mention how lonely it could be, how hard it would be.
But, in fairness to Beyonce, that wouldn't have made for much of a girl power anthem.
The other day, sitting on our favorite little piece of beach, my mom and I got testy with each other. She doesn't understand why I don't go on dates, and I can't seem to get her to understand that I don't have five suitors lined up at my door, falling all over me. Believe me, I would enjoy a date these days. It's been a while.
My mom says “well, I can see I've hit a nerve since your so defensive.” I snap back, “yeah, you have.” I am defensive. What I don't know how to tell my mom, is that I'm scared. Dating is hard in 2016. It's harder to meet people. It's even harder to make a halfway decent connection. It's hard to scroll and scroll and scroll and see love everywhere but with you. We swipe left, right, left, and right again. Searching for something, searching for someone to fill our holes.
I am (ridiculously) scared that I've peaked at 24. I (even more ridiculously) worry that I will die alone with no one but my 100 cats for company. I self-diagnose this singleness when I lay down at night and the lies in my head get real loud.
You're too independent.
You're too intimidating.
Claire's right, you do suck all the air out of every room you're ever in.
Why would someone want you and all your CP mess to deal when they could be with someone "normal?" (that one hurts the most)
You're not skinny enough.
You're not pretty enough.
You're not brave enough.
You're asking for too much.
What I am scared of, is that singleness will be the only story that I get to tell.
But I know that I can't be alone in this. There have to be other somebodies out there, just like me, who worry if love will ever show up for them. And with each passing day without it, we worry a little bit more.
The other other day, someone who used to be a big part of my life, who took up a lot of my headspace one summer, and who I still care for very much, got engaged. He texted me to tell me the good news, and I told him how very very happy and excited I am that he has found someone who makes him that happy. And I meant every word.
This prompted a text from a best friend. Caitlin has known me a long time, since we thought it was chic to put butterfly clips in our hair. To say she knows me and my heart well would be an understatement. So, knowing that I was second-guessing myself that day, she gave me a little pep talk that begs to be shared:
“For the record, I am glad that you are not the one who just got engaged. You deserve a man who is dedicated your adventure and not just his own. So much love for you. He made you feel like you weren't brave because you didn't do the things he considered adventurous. But we have to find people whose adventures line up with ours. We are all adventurous in our own way, and we need people who will support us in that. Moving to Charleston on your own was pretty damn adventurous so who gives a fuck if you can't mountain bike?”
And I think she's right. I think that's the ticket, my single brothers and sisters. Find someone whose adventures compliment your own.
He found his, I will find mine, and you will find yours.
For a lot of my life (and maybe I still do this?) I have looked a singleness as a punishment. Like I'm stumbling around in a giant maze, trying to find this giant prize that God is withholding from me at the end like he's the Wizard of Oz. Like maybe if I prayed more, or had my shit together more, or “stopped looking" (ugh, I hate that), or did this differently, or did that differently, maybe then. Maybe then.
My friends, I hope you've never thought that way. Because it is complete and total bullshit. You're not doing anything wrong. There's nothing wrong with you. God isn't dangling love out in front of you like a carrot, as a prize to be won. A relationship is not a pot of gold at the end of an elusive rainbow, and it sure isn't a magic cure all. Singleness isn't a punishment, but love isn't something that you can win at either.
I know how hard it is to see love all around and everywhere you look, all over Facebook “love challenges” and Instagram hashtags. I know how easy it is to fall into the miserable trap of self-doubt, insecurity, and comparison. But if you can, fight your way out. Don't be crippled by comparison. Don't let yourself be shamed by the fear that love doesn't and won't ever belong to you.
I'm not a relationship expert, clearly. But I'd like to think, that after nearly 24 consecutive years, that I am in fact, an expert on singleness. For anyone else out there whose singleness might feel inescapable and heavy tonight, here are some things I want to tell you:
You are loved. Someone might not be “in love with you” (or maybe they are?!), but that sure as hell doesn't mean you aren't loved.
Don't underestimate online dating. But don't overestimate it either.
Singleness, I would imagine, will end pretty quickly. One day someone will show up in your life, and you'll text them, and you'll go on a date with them, and you'll tell stories, and then there will be another date, and another, and then, well, what do ya know?!
It's okay to admit that you're scared, that dating is scary. But it's not okay to use that as an excuse for not doing it.
Don't be bitter. I'll say it again: don't be bitter.
Sit in your singleness. Don't be afraid of it. Don't be ashamed of it. And don't try to make it in to something it is not.
Meaning, don't keep texting that person (you know that person) long past the time when you got the clarity that told you they weren't meant to be yours. Don't use people just to make you fee less alone.
Do ask your girlfriends to set you up with their ridiculously good-looking brother. And do keep bothering them until they do it.
Do give second chances. Don't give third chances.
Don't treat love like it's a treasure hunt or a game to be won.
Remember that people are not ideals, or fantasies, or things that you can keep. They're just people.
Don't stop living your life just because you're waiting for someone to come along and live it with you.
Do like Caitlin said. Find someone whose adventures are at home with your own. And when you do find that person? Try your hardest. Revel in them. Hold them tight.
Put yourself out there. Make yourself uncomfortable. Be vulnerable. Tell that person (you know that person) just how you feel.
Don't be like me, friends. Don't be scared. They will get here. They will show up. In the meantime, keep on loving your people with all you've got. Keep living well. In the meantime, keep looking. My friend Hannah once had a friend tell her something hopeful. And she passed it along to me. And now I want to share these words with you: They're getting to you as fast as they can.
So to all my fellow single ladies & fellas? I hear you. I see you. I feel you. You are not alone.
Take heart, my dears. They're on their way. Get ready. They will be here as fast as they can. And they will be worth it.