Friday, February 1, 2013

On being single

I don't think anyone really likes to write about being single. I also don't know if anyone cares to read about someone being single. People like love stories, romance, and "perfect" relationships. Well, I don't have those things right now. I have real, 20-something, complicated and confusing single-hood. And I do actually want to write about it. Just this once. That might be a lie, but let's go with it. If you don't want to read about my feelings on being single, that's fine. You can closer your browser window and go back to reading about that cute boy and girl who are expecting their first beautiful baby. You won't hurt my feelings. I just need to write, and this is my favorite place to do such thing.

Let's start with the funny. Because, really, it is Friday and I'm sure we could all use a laugh.
  • Online dating. It's funny, people. First, there are the usernames that people come up with. I'm the boring and straight forward Crystal0531. Badinfluencexo? Dogsanddiesels? Skeeter1236? Sorry, fellas. I'm not going to wink back. And I likely won't email you. Yes, I am that judgmental. Ok, and then there are the photos...oh, the photos. I understand that "selfies" are sometimes unavoidable if you don't have anyone to take a photo (but really, there are timers even on phone cameras...). That doesn't excuse the awful bathroom mirror, peace sign, phone in hand photo. Also, keep your shirt on. If you tell me you're "athletic and toned" I will believe you. You don't need to show off your overly flexed abs and biceps. Give me something to wonder about, will you?
  • First dates. I bet even you coupled-up folks remember some of the funny first dates you have been on. Let me tell you, I am getting much better at seeing the funny in these horribly awkward encounters. Don't get me wrong, I've had some great first dates too. But lately...a whole lot of awkward and funny.
We'll go from funny to debbie downer now. Here are some reasons being single just downright sucks.
  • Lack of companionship. In the last year I have learned how to be ok with being alone, with having time to myself. I really do feel quite comfortable with alone time now. I couldn't have said that this time last year. Here's my biggest example with this one: before I started my grad program, before I even applied actually, I was talking to a guy about that particular goal in my life. I was telling him about how I'm looking forward to a point in my life where I can finally slow down just a little bit, and he rebutted with asking if that would be before or after I got my Masters and PhD. I decided to be really honest with him, because sometimes I still make that mistake. I told him that despite being a fairly independent person, I actually had this vision of getting my graduate degrees once I am in a relationship. Something about being in a relationship felt like it would make this process easier; I would have someone there to encourage me when things got tough, give me high fives and kisses when they went well, and another brain to pick or just discuss ideas with. I'm feeling the lack of this hard today. It was a stressful week with school, and I know it's my own doing. But I can't help feeling like having a companion would make this easier...
  • Ambiguous future. Another tough one for me is not knowing what lies ahead. Again, I've been working on this and trying to "let go and let God" but that doesn't always stop by brain from wandering. Where will I be in a year when I finish this grad program? Where will I be looking for jobs? I know I'm young (because God knows somebody was going to say it) but I have such a strong desire to settle down and stop living this wild, carefree, jam packed life. And to me that transition won't happen until I have someone to reign me in.
Ok, now on to the great parts of being single. Again, because it is Friday and who wants to dwell on sad things right before the weekend? Let's end this on a good note.
  • I am creating a whole version of myself. I love George Bernard Shaw's quote, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." I think that is a beautiful image, and I feel like I am right in the midst of the busiest creation season. Even in these first two weeks of class, I have had to challenge myself to claim my leadership style, learn my strengths, and articulate my values. This is huge self-creation material, people. Being single and going on first dates (or having conversations that don't even lead to that point) is also self-creation. I'm learning every day, with every conversation, every small interaction, every big move, who I am. And I'm relishing in this process. 
  • My future is mine. And God's. But you know what I meant. I know this seems contradictory to my last negative bit on being single, but hear me out. While I really would love to know that by the time I finish my grad program I will be in a committed relationship and ready to take the next step in my career with an amazing person beside me, I can't/won't count on that. Instead, I get to go through this grad program, and this period in my life, with every door open for me. Do I want to move to Portland? I could. Do I want to stay in Appleton? There's no reason why I can't. Do I want to buy a one way ticket to Europe for next summer and continue my self-creation there? That's my choice to make. The best part about this piece is how uncomfortable it makes me. I know that I'm learning a big life lesson here, and as scary as it is to face in the moment, I know I'm going to look back on it and smile because it made me stronger.
And that's the point I really want to end on. I am learning to be a strong, independent, self-satisfying person. I won't ever deny that I want to be in a relationship, or that I want to meet the guy that I'll spend the rest of my life with. I also don't want to give the wrong impression: I am still consumed by a motherly nurturing instinct. I am still a bleeding heart. I still want to give and give and give of myself. But here's what is changing...I'm learning to be ok, more than ok actually, with having this inward focus. I think that it is making a more balanced person.

So there you have it. The funny, the bad, and the good in my world of single-hood. Thanks for reading. Even if you hated it, I'm glad you read it. Because now you know me a little bit more, and those connections are good. 

Some inspiration for this season of my life...