2020 is the year I finally watched Sex and the City. After being told by many friends that I should watch it, as expected I have been left wondering why I didn’t comply sooner, and I thoroughly appreciate the boost of confidence it has given to my independent self. To be honest though, that doesn’t take much; I really enjoy being single. And I love to talk about being single too. So watching all six seasons in a short amount of time gave me a lot to think about!
Coincidentally June marks roughly two years since the end of my last relationship, which stands out as quite a pivotal point in my life. Two years both feels like a significant amount of time and not a lot of time at all. When I look back over the last two years, I know I’d be selling myself short to not recognise the amount of personal growth I’ve accomplished. But there are also many more things I want to do and the time has flown by. In the grand scheme it doesn’t feel as though it’s been long at all. There’s still things I want to achieve before I think I’ll be fully content with who I am individually.
There have been a couple of exceptions, where I have been dangerously close to going head over heels, however mostly I have placed my blinkers firmly on myself. Not that I am opposed to the idea of dating either; the way I described it to my friend the other day was ‘it’s a very low priority’. I feel very comfortable with the idea of being single when I am busy and spending time with friends and generally being available for adventure at the drop of a hat. Doubt only tends to creep in when I don’t have much going on, which is another reason I think I have been pondering single life a lot recently. With the lockdown in England giving me (far too much) time with my thoughts, I caught myself wishing I still had access to the dating scene. That made me wonder if others were also feeling a bit lonely lately, which is what ultimately compelled me to make this post.
I am well aware and very grateful that if not having a partner is the worst thing about my life then I really have it good. I remind myself of this even on the days where it’s hard to escape feeling alone. Which is never a realistic portrayal of things because I am surrounded by lots of friends; friends who are more like family and irreplaceable. A lot of them are in relationships. Sometimes they ask me for advice and I am always happy to help, but will jokingly add that what do I know? I’m the friend who brings the terrible date and first kiss stories. And it was upon thinking about this that I suddenly thought – oh gosh. Is being single actually becoming a personality trait of mine?
If I wasn’t the ‘single friend’ then just who would I be? Because as much as I am staying safely on the dating fence for now, I’m not sure I want that to become a permanent fixture. What happens in, say, ten years time when I decide it’s time to ditch single life, only to find it’s much easier wished for than done? It’s ridiculous to put these kinds of time pressures on our lives, but in the name of full transparency, these are the kinds of thoughts that have begun to creep in late at night. To which I throw on my ultimate girl-power playlist and remind myself that if I have time to worry about this, I could definitely be working harder. As though I have to be one or the other: the strong independent woman or searching for another half.
Lockdown seemed to flaunt both sides. On one hand we had the pressure of using time productively. On the other, social media seemed inundated with pictures of couples spending more time together. Even for the distanced couples, the love letter made a strong return. And flowers by mail – wow. Love was in the air and there was not a mask we could wear to keep it at bay. For a lot of us, this time has given us a new level of introspection, raising questions of what we really miss. What do we want to go back to?
My automatic response whenever anyone asks me for advice being single is ‘fall in love’. Not with somebody else, but with everything you can give to yourself. Like a hobby or a place. Fall in love with your friends too. Aim to lift them. Keep giving yourself to life’s opportunities, because the worst thing you could do is sit around and never give a reason for that love to come back to you. Which can be summarised in one word by the cynics amongst us: distractions. When they are stripped away, and you are so brimming with love that there is an overwhelming urge to share it, the feeling of singularity really settles in. As I mentioned above, it never tends to be a realistic portrayal; there are friends you can share achievement with, family members too. A relationship is not the centre of the universe. Though I realise sometimes just saying that doesn’t make it seem so.
However, we can stop trying to reduce ourselves to single labels. We can want both the strength to be independent and the joy of spending time with someone. Perhaps we have been dividing these two possibilities unfairly. Perhaps what we really want is a balance between the two. I’m not sure why we (and ‘we’ definitely includes me) allow unnecessary pressures to make dating serious. Dating can be light hearted and fun. Sometimes the short romances can bring unparalleled peace; the ones where you’re comfortable enough to be yourselves but not far enough along to have to start thinking about yourselves as a package. Of course even the end of whirlwind / less serious relationships can be sad, but I’ve always found something to learn from each one. Something that teaches me more about what I want, who I am, how to approach situations…
The thing is: I don’t want those happy memories to be tainted by the goodbyes. I want to remember and smile while I do. Because it’s pretty special to have a reason to smile. I’ve met wonderful people who have lifted my outlook on life. If I keep them close to my heart I’ve got faith that I can achieve the things I set out to. So to all my singles out there, who need the reminder that you’ve got this; you’ve got this. I’m definitely sending some love to you.