Whenever cocktails and girlfriends (or even just the latter) are in the same room, the conversation almost invariable makes a stop on the subject of men, or more accurately, boys. Specifically, bemoaning the fact that we can’t find any good ones, causing us to be subjected to singledom for eternity (or so it feels).
Couples holding hands seem to pop up everywhere we go. Pictures of engagement rings fill our Facebook feeds. Movies like “The Notebook” and shows like “The Bachelor” get shoved in our face. Everything couple-related becomes glaring reminders of the missing piece in our lives.
Being in a relationship, the right relationship, is an amazing thing. However, as amazing as a relationship is, we have to remember that there are some damn good things about being single, too.
You can do whatever you want. This is the most obvious and most touted perk of singles everywhere. But I feel like very rarely do people actually take advantage of this freedom. Think about it. There are truly no limits.
Take travel, for instance. Do you want to go overseas and experience the exoticism of Asia? You can! You have no one else’s schedule to worry about, no one else’s budget, no one else’s preferences for the trip. If you want to have a super high-end luxury week with spa pampering and endless cocktails by the pool, you can make that happen. If you want a three week trek through the jungle sleeping in a tent with the native people, you can do that too without worrying about what someone else would want to choose.
Even on a smaller, daily scale, this luxury shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can eat takeout for dinner if you want. You can make a four course meal every night. You can meet up with an old friend at a moment’s notice. You can stay in bed all day or go out and socialize all night. It’s truly 100% up to you.
Being single in your 20’s and 30’s is really the only time that you can actually take advantage of this fully. There are no academic obligations of high school and college. There are no work obligations that you didn’t fully choose if you have a career you love. There are no stigmas attached to anything that you might enjoy, because you are now surrounded by adults and not asshole teenagers.
So many people waste singlehood on Netflix and sweatpants on the couch. There is SO MUCH LIFE to live, and it’s ridiculous to skip out on it because you don’t have someone to experience it with yet.
You can discover yourself. This is another cliched mantra of the single ones, but it is so true. In the past, I have been guilty of taking on my boyfriend’s interests and letting my own slide. However, this really was because I hadn’t solidified my own interests before I got into a serious relationship.
Now that I’ve been on my own for a while, I’ve tried tons of different things and discovered what I love and what I can do without. Just because something hasn’t been a part of your life up until this point does not mean that it can’t become a part of your life now. For example, I played no sports in high school (sadly). Now, I play beach football, turf football, and kickball. I absolutely love it, and while I am not at the level of athleticism I would prefer to be at, I am getting better with each game that I play. Had I not ventured out of my comfort zone, I would have never discovered that I actually like to play sports.
So many people don’t try things because they either ‘think’ they won’t like it or because they are simply too snobby to give something new a try because, surprise surprise, they are going to suck at it at first. We have to stop getting so caught up in being perfect at things all the time. It is only when we allow ourselves to embrace the possibility of falling that we will be able fly.
You can build yourself. When you don’t have someone else constantly in your space, you tend to have a lot of time to think–if you don’t crowd out these valuable hours with mindless TV and/or social media and/or other various wastes of time. If you spend some quiet moments alone reflecting on yourself as a person, both in and out of a relationship, you may come across some things that you don’t like.
This is hard to take. We all like to think that we are just a little bit more perfect than those around us and if anybody needs to change, it’s the other guy. But admitting that you have things to work on is arguably more admirable than swimming in self-denial and staying the same, even if you are a decent person to start out with.
In my reflections lately, I’ve noticed that I am a pretty selfish conversation participant. Whenever someone has something to say, I immediately try to relate to to something similar that has happened in my life. Not that trying to relate and find common ground is necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes letting that person have their moment in the conversational sun is the more kind and less egotistical choice. While this is just a small example of something that I feel I need to change personally, there are many other things that we could allow ourselves to get better at if we just acknowledged that some maintenance needs to take place.
Beyond making cosmetic adjustments to our temple, we can also build on whole new sections. I have always admired my sisters for being able to play guitar, and a couple months ago I drug out my old acoustic and vowed to spend more time playing. That lasted for a little while, but it has since faded away as it is not a fully solidified part of me yet. However, I know that if I really put my mind to it, I can achieve success in that arena, and I plan to make a more concerted effort to make it happen since this is something that I do actually want to add into my life.
Overall, being single is a chance to mold yourself into the person that your future partner will jump at the chance to be with. So often we admire qualities in other people and desire them in our relationships, but forget we cannot expect roses if we are offering dandelions.
Embrace the freedom. Embrace the challenge. Embrace the endless opportunities. Our years of singlehood will be far less than our years of partnership, so squeeze every last drop out of awesomeness from your solo ventures, and don’t be sad if it takes you a while to find The One. In fact, take some time to be thankful that they haven’t materialized yet, because you just get a little longer to date yourself. And lucky for you, you’ll always get the rose.