You Can’t Undo The Evolution: Thoughts From Five Years Of Being Single

single manifesto 2015

Author’s note: This is my annual “single girl’s manifesto.” The others dating back to 2011 are below.

2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

Writing this annual post used to mean something different to me. It used to affirm something for me. It used to be this rah rah moment of proclamation, declaration and confirmation. That’s probably why I used to call it a manifesto. I don’t anymore. Because it’s not that anymore. But, it is still one of the annual posts I return to each year, cringing at the things I wrote prior and returning to put a new spin on an old topic.

This year I have less of an emotional tie to the subject, and part of me thinks that’s a good thing. Part of me thinks that means being single has become far less of an inherent part of my identity and more something I grew in to, a coat that everyone else thought was ugly, and so I thought it was ugly too, until I realized this coat looks pretty good. It’s a comfortable place now. It’s a place that I stopped needing to shout about or write about (I hope this is one of about five relationship posts I intend to pen this year). Being single stopped requiring the validation of others. It stopped being an armor. It stopped being a topic of conversation. Being single stopped being anything other than a choice I made, and a choice I would be willing to forfeit if and when the time were right.

Sometimes I revisit my past work and this pit forms in the middle of my stomach when I realize just how much I used to write about dating and relationships. That pit forms in the middle of my stomach because it evidences how much I used to care about dating and relationships. We do not write about the things we don’t care about, not if we are the authentic writers we claim to be.

I forget when the shift happened, but at some point last year I abandoned the topic of dating and relationships in favor of writing about new things. I wanted to look at my own life through different vantage points other than who was sharing my sheets. I realized I had become part of the very problem I hated–all of the rhetoric, advice and hullabaloo aimed at single women.

Let’s set some context here (if you didn’t already gather it from the title of this post): I have not called someone my boyfriend in close to five years. I’ve had infatuations. I’ve met good guys I could just never get off the ground with because of distance or the typical ebb and flow of life. I’ve had friends with benefits. I’ve had unrequited like. I’ve had long stretches of nothing. I’ve headed down the relationship path with men I soon realized were an ill fit. I’ve had men I wanted to get serious with who didn’t feel the same way. I’ve been friend-zoned. I’ve made awful decisions with good people. I’ve made awful decisions with awful people. I’ve kicked it with some pretty cool guys who I do regret not hooking up with when given the opportunity (we all have some of those, right?) I have said I do want to get married, then retracted that statement, and then decided I will know when it’s time. In short, I’ve lived a life not too different from many twenty-something women–making mistakes, changing my mind, licking my wounds and then letting them heal.

But, when I think about the past five years, I don’t reduce them to my relationship status. Instead, I think about this beautiful, bizarre and transformative journey I’ve been on. I believe the Universe always knows what it’s doing. I believe the Universe is always working in our favor. And I believe the Universe knew what it was doing and was working in my favor when it decided I would be single for these five years (and perhaps many more). I believe I needed this time for myself not only to do the things I’ve been able to do, but to become the woman strong enough to do those very things.

I don’t think it’s a cop-out to say I know myself well enough to know that TU would not have become the space it is and the space it’s turning out to be if I were in a relationship when I started it. Because I would not have been the same woman, for better or worse. You learn about yourself and the world around you in a different way when you are single. You also learn about yourself and the world around you in a different way when you are in a relationship. Both provide crucial lessons. And once you’ve learned them, you can’t ever undo the evolution. You are forever changed. Sometimes people only say that about love. I beg to differ.

I don’t say any of this to diminish love or denounce relationships. There are plenty of times when I crave a consistent and loving relationship, a support system to help get me through this crazy, non-stop life I somehow constructed. Trust me, Twenties Unscripted is not wrapping its arms around me in the morning and holding on to my booty. TU is awesome, but I don’t think it’ll ever be that awesome. Get your baé. Compliment your happiness. All of that. I am a fan.

I also just trust that the Universe knows exactly what it’s doing in my world, so in the wise words of French Montana, don’t panic.

Maybe in the end, the happiest single people are just like the happiest people in relationships: they stop feeling a need to broadcast their joy to the world. They are there. They know how sacrosanct their joy is. They don’t need to live for likes. They trust and believe they are precisely where they are meant to be without requiring the approval of others. Life is good. They are firm in their path and purpose.

Maybe, just maybe, I became that happy single person when I stopped writing so much about dating and relationships, when I stopped feeling compelled to air my sentiments to the world (except, of course, in this annual post). If there is something I’ve learned about life, it is that if you have to flaunt, you probably don’t really have it. That theory applies most to happiness, money and men who say they have large penises.

Cheers, single ladies. Cheers, relationship ladies. Cheers to all of the ladies and cheers to never undoing the evolution.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

What’s The Rush On Commitment?

Last week I stood in a packed room at Eighteenth Street Lounge in anticipation of journalist, author and blogger Demetria Lucas taking the stage for a Q&A session as part of her “Don’t Waste Your Pretty” DC book launch party. A few weeks prior when I learned of the event, I immediately RSVPed–more because I respect and admire Demetria’s path, less because I’m curious about learning how not to “waste my pretty.”

When Demetria and Q&A moderator Helena Andrews opened the floor for audience questions, the women in the crowd asked about everything from how to build a brand to whether or not you should tell a man’s significant other that he’s cheating on her. My ears perked up during the brand/career questions, but I found my eyes glazing over when people wanted to tap Demetria as their own personal relationship counselor.

My eyes glaze over a lot these days when the conversation turns to relationships. That indifference is much of the reason I’ve deliberately stopped writing about relationships. I used to write about dating/relationships/love ad nauseum, until I realized that those topics are a minuscule fraction of my coming-of-age story. But, I’ve thought a lot lately about the title question at hand, so I opted for a throwback to the earlier Twenties Unscripted days in this post.

Recently when I shrugged off the prospect of being 40 and single, someone rebutted my statement by saying, “You’re only saying that cause you’re 25. Watch. You’re going to blink and be 40.” Is that a threat? Holy shit, you’re going to blink, you’ll be 40, you’ll still be single and the entire world will collapse in preparation for Jesus’ return. You just watch.

The prospect of being 40 and single doesn’t frighten me as much as the prospect of being 40 and tethered to the wrong individual. The latter feels like much more of a death sentence than the former. That thought of sharing my life with someone who is not share-worthy scares the living shit out of me. Unfortunately, the way our society is set up, we don’t give people the space and freedom to think that way. The way our society is set up, if you fuck it up the first (or second or third time), you can just get a divorce and try again. The way our society is set up, if you don’t hit certain milestones at certain ages, you’re banished to the outskirts of life, cast as a social pariah with all of the other crazy cat ladies. I just hate the way our society is set up.

I don’t say any of these things to say that I don’t believe in lifelong partnership. I do. However, the terms of that lifelong partnership are still a question for me. Whether or not that lifelong partnership must exist within the context of marriage is still up for grabs in my world. Again, that’s not to denounce marriage for those who choose it. Marriage is a beautiful thing. But, I’m using my twenties as a time to think about these things, to question these things, to search my soul and see if that soul even wants these things.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say something about not being able to predict love’s timing, about “when you know, you’ll know” or about how it doesn’t matter if you meet the love of your life at 18 or 58. This is that part where I pay homage to the erratic waves of time.

But, this is also the part where I say that while some individuals are self-actualized in love by age 25, I am undoubtedly and unquestionably not one of those individuals. I believe love is a beautiful, earth-shattering, life-changing and necessary experience. There is not one question in my mind about that. And, there are people my age who are more than capable of taking on that experience. However, I am the kind of individual who sees my twenties as a time to be selfish, to figure my shit out, to be stupidly self-indulgent.

I have gone back and forth about this theory, but that self-centric place is always where I land. I am the kind of individual whose arbitrary life deadlines apply to book publication dates, not wedding anniversaries. I am incredibly lazy in love. I don’t want to even take the five seconds required to swipe left or right on Tinder. Even those five seconds are too much time when I could be writing or napping or Netflixing. I am grossly deliberate about my alone time–that is why I don’t let people touch my Sundays. It’s why I see living alone as a crucial part of my being able to create, write and produce. I have not yet carved out the space in my life that I deem vital to inviting another individual into it. “Yet” being the operative word.

Recently my best friend asked me, “Don’t you ever miss just having someone to hang out with?” The answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Because I am not immortal, so I’m susceptible to the waves of human emotion like everyone else. I don’t want to be superwoman. I like having days where I throw pity parties and get all bent out of shape because it’s raining and the only cuddle buddy I have is a mercurial cat. But, in the grand scheme of things, those moments strike me as inconsequential. Those moments don’t propel me to rush commitment. There will come a time when commitment, partnership and love are priorities for me. Right now is not that time. And, as I get ready to ease into age 25, I am finally comfortable with how I’ve chosen to prioritize the bits of my life.

Xoxo,
Tyece

How We Treat Single Men Vs. How We Treat Single Women

I read somewhere recently that we assume men are single by choice and women are single by force. The entire quote was really dope, but I’ve been digging through the thorns of Tumblr for ten minutes trying to find it to avail, so suffice it to say that was the main point.

The title of this post sounds like I’m about to get really angry and condemn the modern rules of dating. So let me dilute it a bit with the disclaimer that I have made a lot of the assumptions about single men vs. single women that I think too many people are guilty of. There is a lot that I could write in this post. I could talk about how single men having lots of random sex are labeled players and single women who do it are labeled whores. I could talk about how men staying single until age 50 are lifelong bachelors, but women who do it are lonely cat ladies. But, there are a host of dissertations you could probably read on either of those topics, so I won’t belabor those points.

Instead, something I’ve considered a lot recently is how men who hate being single are perceived up against their female counterparts.

I know a lot of men who are serial daters–some of whom I’ve dated and others who I just know. They jump from one relationship to the next. If they find themselves inhabiting single status, they can’t seem to survive without at least one potential interest to text at any given moment. They require a consistent source of attention (in addition to other activities) from the opposite sex.

What’s strange is that I never really considered men who serially date as being insecure, desperate or clingy. But, those are the same words we would probably sling at women who possessed those same serial dating tendencies. When men say how much they love relationships and being in love, it’s very easy to go, “Aw, he’s so sweet!” But, when a woman says that, the natural reaction is to raise our brow and feel compelled to hand her a self-esteem pamphlet. Women get out of relationships and we encourage them to take some time for themselves. Men get out of them and we don’t think twice if they are in another one six months later.

I haven’t called someone my boyfriend in four years, so for all intents and purposes, I’ve been single for that amount of time. Do not ask me about one-sided infatuations, “talking to someone” or other forms of millennial romantic connection because those don’t count. What I’ve learned during these four years is that there is an enormous difference between not liking to be single and not being able to be single. It’s one thing not to enjoy being single; I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with that. Despite the “Being single is the best thing since sliced bread” rhetoric that runs rampant, some people are just relationship people–they function better as part of a unit. (I am not one of those people, but I get it.) But, it’s another thing to not be able to gather the patience and independence required to be single.

Because, that’s pretty much what being single is about at its core–patience and independence. Most of us are made to love (cue John Legend), so I assume we believe that there is someone out there for designed for us. That’s the patience. And, the independence is obvious. You have to carry those groceries up the stairs by yourself a hell of a lot. Beyond that, you have to collect and maintain your self-esteem, your interests and your entire life independent of another important person cheering you on, challenging you or validating your choices.

Whether you are a man or a woman, I take issue with someone who requires attention from the opposite sex constantly. Attention is nice and cute and all of that other cupcake-y stuff, but it’s also sickeningly ephemeral. Usually. The same people who we have marathon text sessions with become irrelevant specks in our history. First we’re driving into them in a head-on collision and a few months later, they are mirages in the rearview mirror. That is why when I get worked up about men, I remind myself that this, too, shall pass. It always does. It always has. And, until I settle down and hyphenate my last name, it probably always will.

So, I see it as a problem if you can’t make it through a week without someone jumping into your DMs or blowing up your phone. Begging for attention invites a lot of shallow characters into your life, people who will capitalize on every insecurity you have. They’ll eat away at your self-doubt and try to disguise it as love. Building your core based on the shiny object of other people’s attention ensures it will never be able to stand on its own. It will always be rotten. And, that’s a promise, no matter what shape your genitals are.

Xoxo,

Tyece

 

For Single Women In 2014

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

What I am going to tell you is to live your life. Don’t let anyone devalue you based on the status of one of your 10 fingers; you have nine other equally important fingers. I am going to tell you to get the fuck off Facebook. Because, unless you announce that you reincarnated Michael Jackson and he’s coming back for a farewell tour, your status will never get the 142 likes of an engagement ring photo. I am going to tell you to figure yourself and your shit out. I am going to tell you that welcoming another person into your life means naught if you don’t actually, well, have a life.

I am going to tell you that being single is a choice, and you should never lament that decision. I am going to tell you to take this juncture of your single status, whether it’s another year or another decade or just another day, and soak that shit up. Lie down in it and make snow angels. Dance in the mirror naked and blast the music as loudly as you want. Watch all of the ratchet TV shows you want without having to share the remote. Be selfish and indulgent and wild and all of the other adjectives you will one day miss. And, when that is said and done, silence the screams of society long enough to learn who you are, what you want, and why the hell you were put here. Being single is great for just that.

 

It’s Time To Stop Hating On Valentine’s Day.

Wildflowers Unscripted Writing Challenge Day 14: Valentine’s Day

First things first: Happy Valentine’s Day.

There’s always a lot of pressure for a holiday blog post. As holidays such as New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day start crawling up on me, I begin throwing around ideas until I land on my angle. It’s hard to cut through the Internet noise on days like today, so here goes my most valiant effort.

Everyone has an opinion about Valentine’s Day. They love it. They hate it. They are vocally indifferent about it (which I find a bit ironic, but that’s neither here nor there.) I have experienced that entire range of feelings when it comes to this day. This year, I’ve landed on loving it. Ok, love is a strong word. Perhaps it’s more like this year I’ve landed on not vehemently hating it as much as I once did. This year, I got invited to a friend’s dinner party and also plan to hit up a poetry slam after that. I have plans and even though they don’t involve a member of the opposite sex, I’m still looking forward to them.

I’m not sure how much your relationship status should determine how you feel about this day. I’ve had really shitty Valentine’s Days while single. Let’s have a brief moment of silence for the year I got sexiled from my dorm room. I’ve also had really shitty Valentine’s Days when I was in a relationship. Let us not forget the year my ex and I sat in a Starbucks arguing while he told me that I “couldn’t blame PMS on why I was acting that way.” Memories, like the corners of my mind.

Either way, I think for those who do actively hate this day, give it up. Stop hating. Let it be a good day or let it be just another day. But, why let it be a day that you so vehemently hate? If one day in the calendar year makes you feel so horrendous about being single, I would venture to guess there are so many other days in the year that make you feel the exact same way. Because it’s not the days; it’s you and your tiny beating heart that choose to feel that way. And, if there is anything life has taught me as of late, it is that how we react and how we behave is pretty much the only thing we can control. How you react to this day is within your full range of control. But, choosing to hate it just seems like such a waste of energy.

No matter your relationship status, you are no less or no more on this day. You are alive. Somewhere in your life, yes, there is love. That is much more than enough.

Xoxo,

Tyece