I’m not sure what exactly inspired this post. It may be my married friends making comments about how nice it would be to sleep in or finish a conversation with a kid interrupting, or it may have been a busy body asking, with that tone of voice “Are you STILL single?”
But I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Which often means I should write about it, but I’ve been hesitant about this one. In my experience, especially where I live, it is quite unusual to be “older” and single. And by older, I mean I’m 33. And with that sort of perception by some, I think being single can be a touchy subject. I’ve met plenty of people who are so. desperate. to get married. Because…well, because it’s what you do. Some because they really do want to. Like anything else, I feel like too often being single is a polarizing issue…either people are seeking the shortest route to not being single, or proudly clinging to singleness as a badge of honor.
I don’t really see it that way. I definitely see being single at 33 as an “and” thing. I’ve described what I mean by an “and thing” a little bit in this post. It’s concatenative. Which is just such a fun word. But apt, I think–it’s a series of ideas that are linked with an “and.” They might be contradictory, but you hold both in tension. One does not negate the other. For me, being single is like that. This and that. Pros and cons. There is always a flip side.
And this post is certainly not a being single is better than being married thing. Not at all. But I am single right now, and so it’s my perspective on the topic. My experience.
So, without further adieu, here is my list. In no particular order:
- I get to make decisions without consulting anyone else. If I want to change dinner plans on my way home from school, I do. If I want to head out of town for the weekend, I do it. If I decide to pick up and move across the country, which has happened a few times, I go ahead and do it without another thought.
- I have time. This is linked to the first one, sure. And I think sometimes marriage/kids/etc. gets used as an excuse, but I do think it’s true that as a single person I have more undivided attention and time to steward as I wish. I am able to spend more time on causes, hobbies, friends. My attention is not divided so I am more available, and hopefully more useful at places like church. I can devote however much time I need to my new career and not feel guilty that someone is getting shortchanged.
- Being single has given me focus in my career. I’ve never been one of those women who wanted to have babies immediately and stay home. I’ve always had career goals. But, I made a decision early on, I think in college, to NOT make decisions on possibilities…to not think about “Would I buy this house if I got married…” or “Would I want to get this degree if I’m going to stay home with babies.” And that may have been a different discussion if those things were closer, more real possibilities, but they haven’t been, and so I have been able to be very focused at attaining goals. Which leads me to the next pro…
- I think being single has allowed me to develop and be more of who I am. I don’t feel like you can’t do this as a married person, but knowing myself I think I may have had the tendency to acquiesce to someone else’s thoughts and ideas if I were married. As a single person, I feel like I’ve had time and space and at some points the necessity of figuring out what I think about certain topics all on my own, what I value the most, where and who I want to be.
- Related to the last point, being single has made me an independent person. Which I probably would have been to some extent anyway, it’s in my nature. But in being single I’ve had to even more so. I’ve had to figure out how to do lots of things on my own–travel by myself, figure out how to get my taxes done, go to church by myself, buy a house.
- There are things I really, really want to share with someone. I’ll come home from church or small group and have ideas I want to talk about, to discuss. I go on vacation with my family and see my brothers and their wives and think about how much I’d like to share that with someone. I read a great book and want someone else to talk about it with. For better or for worse, a lot of those thoughts end up on social media. When I’ve got a lot going on in my head, I’m tweeting like crazy, but it’s not the same. I would love to have someone to have really fun, intense, lively conversations with. Someone who cares about (most of) the same things I do. Someone who cares about my ideas, and has ideas of their own.
- Sometimes, being single is lonely. You see couples together…the looks that are exchanged that without words let you know they are crazy about each other. But a relative shared some of the best advice with me at some point…I think in college. She told me it’s so much better to be lonely by yourself than to be lonely in marriage. I think about that a lot. Wise words.
- Just being practical, economies of scale. Sure, this could be solved by a roommate (no, thank you), but in some ways being married is so practical. One person can cook while the other cleans up the kitchen. Someone can run to the store while the other person starts the laundry. Maybe it’s just because I’m a terrible housekeeper, but I get tired of running a home all by myself.
- Okay, so this one isn’t really serious, but here’s what I joke about wanting to be married for, mostly travel related–to have a ride to the airport, and someone to carry my bags. Though I have to say I have packing down to a science and never take anything I can’t carry myself. But sometimes it just sounds really nice to be able to rely on someone else.