I recently went to see the movie "How to be Single," and it made me think about the idea of being single, what it means for me and what it means in society. There are so many ways to be single, and I feel like I have embodied each of them at different points in my life.
A part of me is the single-minded career woman who is fiercely independent and doesn't really believe the right man is out there. Being this type of single lady means that I go out to dinner alone if I feel like it, pay my own way and find relationships to be a challenge to my independence.
Another part of me is the party girl who really just wants to have a good time. This aspect of being single focuses on time with friends, outrageously flirting and keeping things light and casual. This type of single girl isn't looking for Mr. Right so much as Mr. Right Now and would really rather dance with friends than with that special someone.
Then there's the part that keeps trying to put myself out there to meet the right person, feeling like, if I just make the effort, I can find the right person. This type of single is open to online dating, introductions through friends and blind dates.
And then there's the serial monogamist, constantly seeking validation within a relationship. I have been this single lady more than once. I find security in a long-term relationship, and my insecurities are put at ease when I'm sure of the person I'm dating. Unfortunately, in this scenario, it can be easy to lose oneself in the relationship and allow those independent qualities to slip away.
I have been all of these women, sometimes in the space of the same week.
I've been single for about a year now. The ink has dried on my finalized divorce decree. I've been back out in the dating game for a few months, and I even managed to get my heart broken pretty thoroughly once. Still, I've tried to keep an open heart and open mind.
I've really been thinking about the concept of being single and have been exploring the idea of our discomfort with it. Most of the single women I know are fierce, beautiful, independent, creative women. We're not some stereotype of a woman who is without a partner. Yet time and again we feel like we have to explain our relationship status. There's a hint of shame around the whole idea of being unattached. I have observed that there is a stark dichotomy in the part of us that wants to be in a committed relationship and the part that wants to truly experience who we are apart from anyone else.
Sadly, many of us don't know who we are, particularly after being in long relationships. Even the strongest of us can find ourselves lost in a relationship, making one compromise after another to keep the peace or maintain the status quo.
What continues to motivate me at this point in my life is not the idea of Mr. Right. While I'd love to think there is a Mr. Right, I find that what keeps me going is the vision I now have for my life, and every single day I'm creating that life for myself.
Your list may look different, but here are a few goals I've given myself for being single:
1. Enjoy the small things.
As a mother, there are so many little joys every single day if only I am present in the moment for them. We have to put down our phones, step away from our computers and experience life to truly cherish these small moments.
2. Plan for small adventures.
Day trips to nearby towns can be a delight. Having a picnic or flying a kite or even going on a scenic drive can all be ways to see something new and lovely.
3. Plan for big adventures.
I have a strong desire to travel. We can save money, read guidebooks and watch travel sites for deals to turn that dream into a plan. For some, the big adventure might be having a child or changing careers. Whatever the adventure, we can start taking the small steps to turn the desire into a reality.
4. Get healthy.
No matter the shape or size of our bodies, we can all benefit from exercise, healthy eating, continued personal growth and some type of spiritual practice. The mind-body-spirit combination is powerful.
Mind: We can keep learning and keep our minds active. We can listen to NPR or a podcast, take a class or even work on a puzzle. Reading is always a great way to keep our minds active, and the library is a free local resource with plenty of books to choose from.
Body: We can go for walks, join a gym or even dance. Healthy eating doesn't have to be about doing without the food we love. Instead, we can add more fruits and vegetables to our diets, drink more water and shop organic when possible. We can take joy in eating truly good food and bypass the fast food or processed food when possible.
Spirit: For a spiritual practice, we can meditate, attend a church service or even perform random acts of kindness for others. We can give to others, touch base with our belief systems and even get back in touch with nature by going on a hike or just simply spending time outdoors.
"How to be Single" inspired me to think about what it means for me to be a single woman. It was a timely reminder for me that being single is a classification that's put on us by others. It seems to be a category that people are uncomfortable with and would like to immediately rectify via advice, blind dates or reassurance that "the one" is still out there for us. Being single is no better or worse for most of us than any other relationship status.
The takeaway for me was that there is so much more to our lives if we could just get past this box we've been put in and see that we still have beautiful lives to live.
So let's go live them.