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stay single until— an analysis & an observation

“Until it feels easy.”

My heart wants people to be able to express thoughts that make them happy, but my brain sighs, “Until WHAT feels easy?”**

It’s nice to say, “Being single is fun and easy!”— and certainly I do think being single is underrated. …but it isn’t always easy.  

Truth is, it’s tough to become ourselves, to become someone another would wish to partner their life, all on our own. Without someone to check in, once in a while. I’s easier to discover our love languages, when someone is speaking to us in them. “Oh, I guess I did need kind words, after all.”  It’s easier to understand what it means to be treated right, after we’re treated wrong..and then eventually we find that person who does treat us right. Again and again and again.

Perhaps you can find out how to become yourself and be that most amazing person, all on your own, before finding your first Love.

Perhaps you are that 24/7, confident, hair whipping woman in the powersuit, breastfeeding whilst commanding a conference call via her bluetooth earbud? Or whatever. Who, after perfecting herself, than goes on to easily find the Love of her life. (Yes, cough, that is exactly what my friends in their forties, having established themselves professionally and understanding themselves intimately, frequent tell me about their subsequent love lives.)

Oh, I’m not saying it’s too late for you, if you have not found it. I am saying that if you want it, stop waiting! Because it’s never easy. No matter how secure, amazing, accomplished, and beautiful you may be. Finding love is always hard and it takes time. I am honestly not sure that woman with the flippant ponytail on her conference call, baby in arm (oh, yes, she doesn’t need a partner to have a baby, she can do it all on her own!) exists. But I surely know finding love for her is as difficult as it is for the rest of us.

“I don’t know that kind of woman sounds amazing! Much more amazing than I am. I’m sure I could…if I just adjusted a few things…maybe worked a second job…I could be better than–“

Yes, and she’s also exhausted. Is that what you want?

  • It’s nice to have someone who can run to CVS and grab a bottle of conditioner because you forget to get any. You’re not stuck in the apartment.  Or running out, feeling  gross and unwashed.
  • It’s nice to have someone to help with the laundry.
  • It’s nice to never have to worry about who you’re going to dinner with that evening.

And we don’t have to wait to be good enough for someone to do these things with and for us.

Life isn’t easy.  Partnered or not.  Waiting for life to be easy WHILE you’re alone?  Even the gods and goddesses needed love and companionship. Should we ask less for ourselves as mere mortals?

We’re good enough, now, to ask for help. We’re good enough today to start building those relationships that will get us through the good days and the bad– and the absolutely horrible. Someone to enjoy the fantastic days, too.

“But I don’t want to push myself to be with someone who isn’t right.”

Don’t do that!  I mean it.  Trapped in a loveless or abusive relationship is worse than being alone….truly. Don’t crash into marriage or have kids without thinking.  At least don’t try to do that (life is messy, it doesn’t always work to plan).  At the same time…

Do you have to do everything alone?

Please, understand that most of us need that supportive partner by our side. Whether comprised of one (aside from ourselves) or many, our support network is often our well being. If you want to figure life out on your own, that is okay. There’s nothing wrong with being single, if that’s what you choose for yourself. But make no mistake. It is not the easy choice.

Very few of us don’t need that help. And it doesn’t just come out of nowhere. If you’re waiting for yourself to be “ready” and achieve your own self nirvana, like when Sally from Coupling tells her friends that she’ll introduce her new boyfriend “when he’s finished,” well–

“Can I tell you a secret? Love isn’t always something you’re ready for.  Sometimes you just gotta figure it out as you go.  Sometimes you only know after you’ve met the person(s) right for you.

I am perhaps lucky, but I found someone to grow with, mutually.  Someone I could play with love and romance— and yes, I could have been hurt, but being vulnerable allowed me to find any love at all. But I wasn’t ready for it; in fact, I’d made a rash promise to myself to never date again, because dating was hopeless. And, instead of dating, I just…opened myself up to finding someone who could help me in life.

Someone in my family told me I seemed like I’d found myself when I met my first partner.  I’d dated before, sure, but nobody that was anything like this. My partner pointed out that I’d stumbled into him at twenty-five, about when people come into their own anyway.  Which is true.

At any rate, I wasn’t “complete” when I met him. I was…close. But I didn’t know who I was, nor who I could become. I wasn’t secure in myself, nor did I have a promising career. I was nobody’s 30 Under 30. In fact, I was seeking jobs on Craiglist at the time. Yeah, I was definitely “ready” to meet someone.

But it didn’t matter that I couldn’t figure out a regular meal plan or answer the question, “What do you want?” with a practiced flourish. Not to the friends who stuck by me, through thick and thin. And certainly not to him.

I don’t know how much was me.  After I met him. After I got his support and influence. It’s not like I twiddled my thumbs before him, I had gotten started on my path of self exploration.

Nonethless it was during those first five years we were together that I really discovered me.I do know that it sure felt nice to have someone by my side during what ended up being a difficult part of my life. I think that is why we are so close today. We “finished,” to speak, together. Helping each other through each other’s formative, and oftentimes rather rough, years.

And if you decide you don’t wish a Love and you want to be truly independent and living on your own? Please don’t forget that you may be “single,” but that doesn’t mean you need to be alone.

I am glad for you if you can do it alone. On the other hand, it’s okay if you need help to get “there.”  It’s not a weakness.  Don’t be scared of someone seeing you before you’re ready for them.

By the way, if by “single” you mean “unmarried”? Great. Be “single” if that means you don’t have a nesting partner (though if your partner doesn’t live with you, again, that can make one’s life more difficult.) If you mean “single” as “independent, childless, wandering soul,” great.  If you mean “single” as “does not desire any most important romantic relationship,” good on you for knowing that this is what you want.  (Because God knows, hardly anyone will tell you seeking NO romantic love is the right path).

But to be truly on our own, even if fulfilling for our sense of self, can be a lonely path. FInd that best friend (or friends). Find that person, or persons, who you can count on absolutely and with perfect confidence. Because they are there for you, always. And it can start with something very small, something that feels like it’s not very much at all. And then, without warning, somehow they are more than you ever imagined– and you might not even be ready for them when they become that person to you!

I don’t know what my life would have been, if I’d done it all, “on my own.” I can’t ever know. But something told me, while I’m grateful I waited to make a true commitment, I’m glad I allowed another to be part of my journey of self discovery.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t know. All I know is I was grateful to have him to bounce ideas off, as I figured out everything described in that pretty little poem. As understanding myself felt as easy and natural as breathing. “Easy, simple, like breathing.” I could have been single, or not, at that point– and I would have been okay.

I’m grateful to each and every person who took a chance on the unformed me. Because I needed their help to become me; I wouldn’t be me, I don’t think, without them. What is “me” anyway? Besides, the truth is that I don’t think I’m “finished” yet. I don’t think I’ll ever be.

But whatever I become, and however I evolve, I know I won’t be alone.

And I’m very, very happy about that.

Sometimes that’s the only way forward.  

____________________________________________________________

A final note..

Perhaps you don’t have that Love in your life.  Or you don’t even want one.  That’s fine.  What about a best friend?  A partner in crime?  Someone you trust above all others? Having a girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever is awesome for, I would say most of us.  But it’s not everything.  Don’t make it be, if it’s not what you want.

**I’m ignoring some of the more toxic bs in the quote, like, expecting a real love to know what you want without actually voicing what you want…just addressing the sentiment of the meme

***and anyone else who needs to hear this, regardless of gender

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happiness is a choice: lessons from my mother

I learned many lessons from my family growing up.  I learned lessons from my parents, siblings, from my mentors, from my friends.  

The second most important lesson I received from my mother was this:  

Happiness is a choice. 

At the Las Vegas “Life is Beautiful” festival, the year it first began, I painted this sentiment on a brick.  Someone collected the bricks and built a wall from them (a wall that actually made people feel better).  The girl next to me remarked, “That is profound.” I forget, sometimes, how lucky I was to have learned this lesson and early on.  

Of course I didn’t feel lucky at the time.  I fought it like a cat about to be thrown into a bath. My mother used to ask me what I “got” out of being unhappy– and of course I responded that I didn’t! That I didn’t have any control over my feelings! How stupid was she?  What did I “get” from being unhappy? Nothing!

Truth is, I got plenty out of unhappiness.  I think most of us do. We gain sympathy from our friends.  We gain blind sympathy from strangers (what true value that gives us is debatable, but crying out for sympathy rarely results in no response.  Social media is proof of that.)  We gain an outlet for our frustrations.  Perhaps most importantly, we gain another day’s reprieve in dealing with our actual issues.  We can feel bad for one more day.

Sadness serves a purpose, whether good, bad, or indifferent (I am not interested, at the moment, in defining the meaning of “good.”) Remember Pandora’s Box?  Without all the bad feelings, we would never have had hope.  Hope is only possible in the context of all the bad feels.  And it is a wonderful feeling that I am grateful to feel every day.

It’s silly to dismiss negative feelings entirely. Even if we could, I don’t know that we should. I would posit that selectively indulging in sadness can provide legitimate benefits. If we survive some kind of hardship and, well, perhaps not suffering, but at least frustration and anger,  we generally have better perspectives and ability to enjoy the good times.  It’s not good when life is too easy.  It’s relieving to release tears.  

If the hurt runs deeper and we find ourselves the victim of a painful experience, we can still find a small amount of solace in unhappiness…until we are able to deal with the horror itself. 

We humans even get a twisted pleasure out of the very feeling of being unhappy.  Like a mild masochistic pain, such as how I feel when my eyebrows are waxed.  It hurts—but it’s a GOOD hurt.  Or it feels good to me.  

But we’ll never feel the good feelings, certainly not achieving true “happiness,” unless we force ourselves to rise higher. We cannot control our circumstances, though we can find ways of modifying them.  But we can’t control all of it.  

So what happens when the bad things happen? When we inevitably feel sad, or worse? I believe it is our choice if we strive for happiness, or fall into sadness; or if we choose to actively fight for unhappiness, afraid to see what would happen to us if we let our perceived wrongs fall by the wayside.   

If we want to be generally happy, versus generally sad, I believe we need to actively make decisions that bring us happiness.  We need to breathe.  We need to count our blessings, and, yes, when I needed it, I mentally recited every good thing that happened to me that day.  Silly, but effective. It helped so much!  Write it down, and recall your list on cloudy days.  Do what it takes for you personally.  Because we need, in some form, to say, “I am going to be happy,” and affirm that statement by making positive choices.  Like love languages, I believe there are “happiness languages,” too.  

I discovered, at a certain point that I won’t disclose here, that being happy, well, made me happier.  What purpose, I asked, does being unhappy serve me?  I used to have answers that I found acceptable.  The answers were no less valid.  Still.  I stopped accepting those answers.  Yes, I told myself, unhappiness still gave me something; but it no longer gave me enough.  Sadness, even misery, can provide.  But it can only provide so much.  The older you get–  and no need to grow up too quickly!—the emptier those indulgent feelings get. That’s nice, your inner angel/demon says.  Now what? 

Choosing happiness fulfilled me beyond my considerably active dreams and imaginings.  I began assuming those who loved me were trying to make me feel warm and fuzzy, instead of assuming the worst.  I attempted to take compliments at face value; not immediately twist them into an attack.  That took real effort.  It’s second nature to me, today, to instantly work out the positive in a situation; to find at least one solution to a problem.  I am unsure that I am a natural optimist; part of my progression involved surrounding myself with optimists.  I do credit myself with some natural optimism, however.  

I’d like to think I age like a fine wine or a brandy.  That I am better (even more attractive?) as I grow older.  Because I AM happier. I rarely feel “unhappy,” anymore. Instead, I feel angry, frustrated, disappointed.  A myriad of negative emotions, yes, but I can actually feel them.  My mind isn’t filled with vague “unhappiness.”  I can feel other, more validating emotions.  Heck, I even have time for the stupid, petty ones!  And can learn about those petty emotions, too, as I learn do deal with myself and others.  It actually helps me with my self growth.  Sometimes, okay, a lot of time, I even feel positive ones.  Imagine that!

I just don’t have time for unhappiness, anymore. Not that pure, unadulterated, wave of sadness washing over me.  There’s too much else I want to feel.  

Not to mention, with the state of the world as it is—and I acknowledge the bad, even as I believe society truly has progressed so much and we should feel good about it!—we don’t have time to just be unhappy, anymore.  

There is far too much to do.