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