Monday, 7 October 2013

What I Love About and Learned From Being Single

 I've decided to take part in The Single Woman's 30 Day Blogging Challenge. Though I won't be covering each day, some topics are relevant to the theme of this blog. See details here

Today's topic is to describe a day or moment when being single was really awesome.

The moment that I truly love being single, is in those quiet moments after you've made it through a difficult heartbreak, and you realize you're okay again. There is a lightness in your heart, a weight has been lifted from your shoulders and you are breathing easy again. You're at peace again.

Other than that, it's more general. Sometimes I come home and just enjoy the peace of being able to do my own thing, cook what I want, read, listen to music, whatever, without having to make room for someone else's schedule. There are some moments when you just need that freedom to do what you want, when you want. I think what I enjoy most about being single is the peace of living at my own pace, making my own choices. I can focus fully on my needs and do what's right or best for me at that moment. I enjoy the freedom of being able to do what I want, or NOT do something that I don't want to, without significantly impacting another person close to me.

I like being single because I don't have to seek someone else's approval when I want to do something. I don't have to check in with someone if I don't feel like it that day. I can go somewhere alone without having to explain myself. I don't have to worry about arguments or fights over silly things. I can have all the alone time I want and need.

In addition, my single years have taught me some important things:

1. Who I am. Your teenage and young adulthood years are some of the most important formative years of your life. If you tangle your identity with someone else's at a tender age, you lose the opportunity to learn who you are, distinct and separate from everyone else. Getting to know yourself is a critical step in life; it allows you to develop your core values, what you stand for and what you won't put up with, and this ultimately guides all your decisions in life. Sure, we change as time goes by. Maybe you hated broccoli as a kid and now can't go a day without eating it. I was once convinced I could never write a poem; now I have written dozens, some I am very proud of. Self-awareness allows you to track the changes in your life; it helps in knowing when you're progressing or not, whether you're growing or shrinking and gives you the opportunity to do something about it.

2. What I am capable of. There are times when you need to stand alone to truly appreciate your strength as an individual. I'm sure you have been surprised at some point at some of the things you managed to get through on your own but didn't think you could. If you learn from too early on to lean on someone, you run the risk of becoming dependent on them, or crashing and burning when there's no one in their position to lean on. Trust yourself; you are much more capable than you believe yourself to be.

3. Where my worth should come from. And where is that? Me. Only from me. It's definitely something I am still learning, but not having someone else to constantly tell me how beautiful I am, how lucky they are to have me etc. (or whatever boyfriends are supposed to say) forces me to look within for my worth. I learn to tell myself I'm beautiful without cringing (a work-in-progress), I learn to remind myself how capable I am, and what I have been through on my own, I learn to value and acknowledge my strengths and talents so that in the midst of people coming into and out of my life, I am the constant. I am my worth.

4. The importance of faith and spirituality. This ties in heavily to the previous point concerning worth. I'll embarrassingly admit that when I was a teenager, I really wanted a boyfriend because I thought if someone loved me, it would validate me somehow. But guess what? You've already been validated. You are validated by your very existence, not by whether people see you, love you or not. Even if you're still single, never been kissed, never been looked in the eye by someone you adore, you have still been validated because you have been created, crafted by God, He who does nothing without intent or purpose.

Beyond that, being single for so long has allowed me to learn that it is not in romantic relationships that we should be putting our faith and whole hearts into, but instead pouring ourselves fully into a relationship with God and loving Him the way He should be loved. By no means am I perfect at this (or even close; I am very much a work-in-progress in this area), but I am much more aware now of the way our culture emphasizes romantic love as the most important thing in life, to be sought after regardless of consequence. The reason we keep getting hurt so badly time after time is because we keep putting our hearts in the wrong places. By all means, love people, but love God more. Be aware of the reasons you get into relationships. They won't fill your voids. Only God can do that.

5. What I want, in a relationship and in life. In getting to know yourself, your likes, dislikes, quirks, habits, etc. you are better equipped to know what qualities you want in a life partner. It's also helpful to learn from others around you who have been in relationships. Listening to your friends' issues concerning their own relationships can lead to insight into your own needs or values. For example, what issues were you most bothered by? What was your friend upset about that you thought wasn't a big deal? etc. Even platonic friendships can help in this area; what do  you value most in your friendships? What behaviours hurt or anger you?

Being single is a wonderful time to make some goals for your future. It's helpful to know what you want, and have something to work toward so that you keep that zeal and motivation for life. Having a clear idea of where you want to be helps keep you going day after day. Of course, those goals might change or need to be modified if you meet someone along the way, but it's better to know what you're compromising on, and take an active part in your life's course, rather than be swept away in someone else's idea of what life should be like.

If you use them wisely, your single days can be some of the best times of your life. Don't let anyone put you down or make you feel like you're not good enough just because you're not coupled. Remember that you are worth so much more than whether someone wants you or not. We all have a purpose to fulfill, and sometimes being single is integral to that. If you took all the energy you use into despairing about your singleness, analyzing it, trying to "fix" it, and instead put it into something worthwhile and meaningful, you could accomplish great and wonderful things.

Embrace yourself, your life and the plan God has for you.

You are enough.


What about you? When has being single been a great experience for you? Share in the comments below!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

When Being Single Sucks and Why It Doesn't Have to Break You: The Single Woman's 30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 2

I've decided to take part in The Single Woman's 30 Day Blogging Challenge. Though I won't be covering each day, some topics are relevant to the theme of my blog. See details here

Today's topic is describing a time when being single really sucked.

Over the past few years, I've become increasingly comfortable with my single status. Before that, however, for a long time, especially during my teenage years and early young adulthood, I yearned constantly for a companion in my life. I was lonely, and I fed into the lie that having a boyfriend would ease my feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. I thought it would cure me of my low self esteem and validate me and my existence in this life.

As I got older, and there was still no boyfriend, I began to learn just how false (and absurd!) those thoughts were. I don't remember the exact moment that it hit me, but I suddenly realized that there was so much more to life than having a significant other. Since then, I've learned, in small increments, to truly cherish my time as a single woman.

But life, being as fluid and ever-changing as it is, brought moments when I strongly desired companionship. It was with a different intent and mindset from my teenage years, but the feeling of longing was very much there.

I have found single life to be most challenging when you have fallen for someone for whom the feeling is not mutual. The moment after the butterflies have settled, your phone has still not yet buzzed, and the air is heavy with the realization that you have been rejected.

Rejection: to me, the hardest part of being single.

It doesn't have to be outright; just the notion that the one you want, doesn't want you.

It had been some time after my first major heartbreak when I laid eyes on him. It started as a silly crush, just proof that I still had the capacity to feel something for someone. As our paths crossed and diverged and crossed again over time, I fell into and out of my feelings for him; they followed me around and at some point I found myself really falling hard for him.

It frightened me.

But as ever hopeful as I am, I let myself dream about him returning my feelings. However, as fate would have it, it soon became increasingly clear that not only was this not going to happen, but he had fallen completely head over heels for someone else.

Someone else.

A wave of shame washed over me. He didn't want me. He wanted her. Why not me? Was there something wrong with me? What was I lacking? Was I not good enough?

Suddenly it wasn't just about my singleness anymore; it became a battle against myself. All my insecurities were suddenly brought to light and I couldn't shake the thought that the reason he chose her over me was because I simply was not good enough for him. This was further compounded by the fact that from the beginning, I always felt like he was out of my league.

I struggled with these thoughts for a long time. I struggled, and beat myself up for not being the cheery, outgoing, witty, over-achieving, over-involved type. I struggled, until one day a beautiful reminder came my way:

God is in control.

God is in control. And what did that mean? It means He has a plan for my life far greater than I can understand or see right now. It means that He knows what to give and what to withhold, and sometimes the latter is a blessing in disguise. It means that He, in His loving and merciful nature, would never allow me to have something that would cause needless pain and strife in my life.

It means that even when I think someone is absolutely perfect for me, He knows more than I do, what will hurt or harm me more than help me.

But beyond that, it meant that there was something better out there for me, and that something was already mine, simply awaiting God's perfect timing to reveal himself.

In time I also learned that whether someone wanted me or not was not a reflection of my worth. You are still of infinite value whether someone chooses to be with you or not.

There are still times when I struggle with myself, but I always come back to this; I allow myself to surrender to His will, and feel the peace of knowing that everything is unfolding as it should.

So maybe it wasn't really a rejection.

It was just a redirection to the path that I am truly meant to be on.


When has being single been difficult for you? How did you overcome it? Share in the comments below!