I can’t seem to get myself to sleepyland, so I’ve decided to write, and seeing that it’s just become Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to write about love. Probably not in the way that you’re thinking, mind you, seeing as I’m not exactly the market for the holiday.
You see, I’ve been single for a long time. Six years and seven months, to be exact. Don’t worry, I just counted now, it’s not something that I keep tabs on or have kept tabs on ever since I became single. I’ve only ever had one serious relationship in my life, and it was in a time when neither my then-boyfriend nor I even knew anything about what it meant to be in a relationship. We were in love, I don’t doubt that, but the stupidity of a teenage college student knows no bounds, and unfortunately our relationship’s demise was the casualty of that stupidity.
So yeah, I’ve been single a while. Kids born when my ex and I broke up are in the first grade now. Holy crap, seriously? Give me a moment to let that sink in.
Okay, moment over.
The thing that people don’t realize about being single is that you probably learn the most about love and relationships during this time of your life, more than you could if you had jumped from one relationship to another.
Which makes sense, if you think about it. For most of us, the saying “hindsight is 20/20” holds too true for comfort, and the only time that we realize and learn from all the stupid things we did/put up with/believed during that relationship is when we’ve cleared our heads from the gooey muck that comes with being in love and are able to have a clear look at what happened. The dust settles and you start to see things for what they were.
Don’t get me wrong; I know that there is as treasure-trove of things that you learn only when you’re in a relationship. But that doesn’t necessarily take away from its validity.
Of course, the things that you learn about love and relatinships while you’re single will really depend on the kinds of relationships that you have around you. And I just happen to be blessed enough to be surrounded by relationships that I can both admire and aspire to. There’s the relationship of my parents, that teach me the realities of being married to someone, and actually spending majority of your time together with that person. I have my sister and her husband’s relationship, which is something that is closer to my current situation because they’re closer my age. Then there are the relationships of my best friends, none of whom are married yet but are all in varied states of commitment and life situations. These are the relationships that I can look at, observe, and learn from. And somehow it feels like a soldier training and preparing for battle, learning how to put on his armor and learning how to use his weapons and his shield.
(Believe me, the implications of the fact that I see relationships as like some sort of war are not lost of on me.)
Being single for this long is quite an experience, and its not one that a lot of people can say they have. Long-time abstinence from relationships is far less common than serial monogamy, and in my opinion, much healthier. When I was younger and was going on year 2 or 3, I started thinking that maybe I was the problem, as women tend to do when they realize that the men that they meet that are interested in them hold no spark for them whatsoever, but are of course attracted to the assholes. Then by around year 5, I found myself at peace with not having a partner in life. Around that time, I had found myself feeling something closely resembling love for a man that I knew would never love me in that way. He of course ended up marrying someone else and eventually faded out of my life, and it was then that I realized that he wasn’t the right guy for me anyway because marriage was in his mind and I was far from it. Eons. Light years.
I’m not saying it’s been easy. I’ve been angry. I’ve been bitter. I’ve been desperate. I’ve been stopped dead in my tracks as the thought “I’m in my mid-20s and I’ve never had a serious, committed relationship as an adult,” flashed through my brain. I’ve sworn off men, I’ve declared an undying love for my shoes that no man could ever coax out of me, hell, I’m determined to become a cat lady one day. I’ve felt something closely resembling love for boys who was all sorts of wrong for me, and though the last time that happened the dude was the first one to declare and use the word “love,” I still find myself, today on the day of love, without a relationship, without a partner. It hasn’t been easy, and God knows it can get unbearably lonely, but it has been the best experience of my life that I could have ever hoped for.
I see myself working and following my dreams all over the world. I see myself diving into oceans and climbing mountains, meeting new people and experiencing new things. I can go out and party with new friends, or I can laze around for an entire day without showering and just enjoy a good book. I can flirt with that cute guy or enjoy an awesome girl’s night without having to report in to anyone. And whatever happens, I will always be able get into my car, and get myself safely home. That is the kind of woman that I’ve become through the years of singledom. I can lug ten grocery bags up six flights of stairs. I can unclog a toilet. If there’s a rat in my apartment, I can get rid of it myself – albeit with a lot of screaming and throwing things around. I can do all that because I’ve had to do it all for myself all this time, and I’m a stronger person for it.
So here’s to you. If right now you’re reading this and you’re single, starting to feel the bitterness creeping in despite yourself, counting the hours until Valentine’s day is another 365 days away, remember this: being single isn’t a curse. If you play your cards right, it can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. If you learn, if you grow as a person, if you open yourself up to happiness that is certainly attainable without being in a relationship with someone, you will find that being single will be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. And believe me, you are in for an amazing ride.