"Whether you marry or not, you will regret it" [or not.] ~Kierkegaard, Neith Boyce with Stephanie Schoenberg
I am single. I have been largely single for over a decade now. And as I am still fairly young, it is strange, to many in my life, that finding a man who will commit to me until the end of my days has not been a primary focus. Why?
I recently finished the memoir, social commentary, cultural criticism and biography, 'Spinster' by Kate Bolick. Reading her words felt like reading my own. I recently tweeted the author telling her this. She promptly responded with enthusiasm and delight - like I did. Yep, I think I met my soul sister. It soothed me. Reading often does. A good friend of mine quotes C.S. Lewis to me often, "We read to know we are not alone." How true this statement has been in my life - especially in the various homes I've had, in various cultures around the globe. There I will be, sitting in a chair, over coffee, book in hand and whisked away to a community of like minded thinkers. What a gift!
So I am 32, soon to be 33, with no prospects of a dreamy husband on quest to rescue me from my loneliness. The truth is, I am not lonely. Not lonelier than any other human, coupled or not, certainly. "We like to pretend that only single people are lonely, and coupledom the cure." In reality, I have not been more content in all my life. And why? Ah, here is the deep and striking truth - I have become a dear friend to myself. And more than that, the fear that we are trying to escape, the fear of ourselves, our darkness. You know, that inner ache and terror that may lead us to drink or binge or run or fuck around or confess or sleep or never stop moving or performing or find someone to save us - that fear? It no longer controls me. I'm not saying it doesn't appear once in awhile. It's always there, eager to tap me on the shoulder and draw me in with it's luring eyes, begging me to take a ride on the train to the depths of despair. Sometimes, for moments, I still ride it, but more recently, I've made friends with that fear. And in turn, made friends with myself - all parts. I love being alone. And, I love being with people. I have become quite satisfied with all the beauty that surrounds me daily. I just needed new eyes.
Last week I went to my second wedding of the season. The second wedding where I was a part of the bridal party. Both were for young friends nearly a decade younger than me. In both bridal parties, I was the only single person. The only single and oldest person. Hah! Now, this could give me reason to wonder at the difference in my life choices. It could make me question, it could raise concern. But it doesn't. As Emerson put it, "Be true to your own act." Or as Bolick puts it, "Being single is like being an artist." And if I am anything, it is an artist. So, it should not be surprising that being the oldest and only single woman in the party, I actually internally grin.
The wedding was beautiful, touching and fun. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction that my friends were getting married. I was so pleased in their delight and fulfillment. And that feeling of joy for them transferred also to me. Surely this is what it means to be free. I am utterly pleased they are following their hearts, as I am pleased I am following mine. We are then all winners of our own destinies.
I don't know what the future will hold for me. I am certainly not against getting married, but I still have yet to feel freer, more alive, than I do when I am alone. And presently, I can't imagine being happier, more content.
So, to my fellow currently solo travelers out there, being single is a gift. Embrace it. Fall in love with yourself first, this beautiful life and any addition is bonus.