I don’t think I’m the only person in the world who suffers from the “grass-is-always-greener” syndrome, that infuriating notion that if I had what that person has then I will be happy.
Especially in regards to relationships. Having been happily single for the past year, I decided recently that I’d remain single indefinitely, with no plans to pursue a relationship with anyone other than myself. For me this means no dating sites or apps, no blind-date setups by friends or relatives, loving or otherwise, no pursuit. If I’m going to get involved with another human being, by golly, they’ll have to come hit me over the head to get me to notice them. Most of the time this works out great: I have incredibly fulfilling work, I give back to the communities within which I am involved, I have a lovely home and a sweet cat and a summer garden coming in. Generally speaking, my life is the picture of contentment. I want what I have.
And then I see them. The hands-holders, the exchangers of smoky gazes, the secret-smilers, the Eskimo-kissers. I see them on the bus and the bike trail and at restaurants and then suddenly it’s like they’re everywhere and what is wrong with me? Why don’t I have that?
It usually doesn’t take too much to get me back to remembering, “because you chose this” and returning to my contented state, but when I start getting all up in my head about this stuff and it starts threatening my serenity, I go straight to the list. The list of why being single is awesome. Not why it’s okay, not why it’s all-right-for-now, but why being single is really and truly awesome.
1. I CAN FLIRT ALL I WANT.
I work in a bike shop: cue the near-constant entrance of hot, toned guys. I get plenty of opportunity to practice flirting and no guilt whatsoever.
2. GOING OUT HAS ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES.
The only thing I have to commit to when I go out is having a great time, and I always do.
3. THE ONLY PERSON I HAVE TO CHECK IN WITH IS MY MOTHER.
And surprisingly, my mother and I have had a much better relationship over the past year than we ever have had before. She’s become a greater friend and better confidant, and I love having her in my corner. Being single gives me the opportunity to enjoy checking in with my mother, something I never anticipated or thought I would like so much.
4. IT’S. MY. BED.
Roo, my aging Greek cat who has slept with me for the past 15 years, still takes up a ridiculous amount of space for a ten-pound furball, but that’s just what cats do. I haven’t had a middle-of-the-night struggle for my sheets or duvet for a long time, and I don’t miss it one bit.
5. I HAVE STRONGER FRIENDSHIPS, NOT RELATIONSHIP DRAMA.
I don’t have to worry about his anything, and I rely on my friends to be sounding boards, advisory committees, emergency editors, and freak-out mitigators. As a result, my friendships are closer and stronger than ever, and I don’t invest too much time or energy in anyone else’s head space.
6. I DON’T WONDER IF I AM WITH THE RIGHT PERSON.
If you’re anything like me, every person you’ve ever dated has become a question of your own identity. This is nigh impossible when you’re with yourself. And if you still feel like you’re with the wrong person, there are a boatload of resources out there to help you. I luxuriate in knowing that if all else fails I am most definitely with the right person.
7. I DON’T DO STUFF I DON’T WANT TO DO.
Life is short, folks, and there are a LOT of things I want to do: complete the Colorado Northeast Ridge Route of Kingfisher Tower with my climbing partner, build a new roadbike on the 1981 celeste Bianchi frame that was donated to my shop last month, see the new X-Men movie, ride at least 100 miles per week this summer…the list just goes on, and it gets longer all the time. And it’s all mine. Every choice I make, every decision, every action, every time, is mine and mine alone. So far, it seems to be a pretty good way to live.
8. I KNOW I HAVEN’T SETTLED.
What’s worse than being alone? Being with someone only because you don’t want to be alone.
9. I HAVE TIME TO WORK ON MYSELF.
And energy. And motivation. And no other distractions. Being single gives me the time to pursue my dreams.
10. I CAN BE COMPLETELY SELFISH, FOR ABSOLUTELY THE BEST REASONS.
It’s a well-known truism that you cannot really love another person unless you love yourself. Being single gives me a lot of opportunity to get to know myself, what I have to offer, who I am, what I have to give. Being entirely and truly myself means that I am always, only going to offer the best me: to my friends, to my colleagues, to my customers, to my community.
11. I CAN BE CURIOUS.
I get to take the time and commit the energy to figure things out, whether it’s my next climbing trip or my surprise attraction to someone. The thing is: my curiosity isn’t going to potentially hurt anyone else. So I get to indulge in it.
12. I CAN TRAVEL.
Traveling is better when you’re single, whether you’re traveling alone or not. I don’t have to worry about my boyfriend being offended that I didn’t invite him, or asking what I’m doing every step of the trip. And since I climb and ride with both men and women, this is especially important to me. The only creature who got their heart broken on my last climbing trip was my cat, and I’m pleased to report she’s well-recovered.
13. I SAVE MONEY.
And when I do spend it on other people, it’s people I really love for reasons I really want to spend it. I take my mom to the movies. I take my friends to lunch. I buy half the gas for a road trip to go rock climbing, and pick up half the camping fees. No regrets. Ever.
14. LIFE IS MORE ADVENTUROUS.
I’m bound by my own imagination, my creativity, my passions, my desires, which basically means, I have no boundaries. I can do anything I want to do.
15. I STILL HAVE THE EXCITEMENT OF FINDING THE ONE. (OR NOT.)
Sociocultural norms tell me that I should find someone, settle down, get married, raise a family. But 73% of people in one survey said their current partner isn’t their true love. According to one site responsible for various relationship metrics, the odds are sorely stacked against me: 285,000 to 1 that I will “find the one”. And besides, why waste time searching for someone when I could be bettering myself: in effect, making myself someone else’s “one”?
Regardless of how this whole relationship thing works itself out in my life, I sleep well every night. (Alone. Well, with a cuddly feline usually curled against my lower back.) I greet every day with unmitigated enthusiasm. I work hard to be helpful in my community, at my job, to my friends and family, my colleagues, my employers, my world. Maybe I’ll be someone else’s one someday, but if not, that will be okay too. Somehow, all alone,by myself, on my own, I am enough.