The longer I’m single, the more I am beginning to think that being single might be the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Besides singing Patti Labelle’s “On My Own” at the top of my lungs in my living room, one of my favourite (guilty) pastimes is reading love stories online. However, along with the love stories I have also read many stories of heartache and heartbreak.
I read stories of women who stay in relationships with d*ck-head men because they have never been alone before.
I read stories of women who continue to run back to men who have not only shown them but told them that they do not want them.
I read about people going on a succession of Tinder (or Grindr) dates, their rendezvous grating and grinding at their self-worth and their dignity serving as tinder as their love lives go up in flames.
I read these stories, and I want to scream and say, “It’s okay to be by yourself for a while.” And then I realize that many people don’t know how. And then I think, “My gosh. I can’t imagine putting myself in that situation. That does not sound like something I would do or put up with. I’m so glad I’m single.”
After all, there’s a certain amount of self-confidence that is developed after being single for as long as I have been.
I think about those people who can’t sit by themselves for longer than one week without going mad. I think about those people who run from pillar to post because they don’t know – or can’t stand – being by themselves. I think of those people who can’t stand being single so they settle for grasping at straws. I think about the trouble they sometimes get themselves into. I think about those people who say that they’ve been three years out of a relationship and they are so unhappy. They say they don’t know what to do with themselves. They don’t know what to do by themselves. I pity them.
Perhaps I pity them because I don’t understand them. I’ve been by myself for almost thirty years. But being single has served as a wonderful protection against the vicissitudes and B.S. of life.
Because I have been by myself for so long and have become okay with it, I don’t see myself running into the arms of a man out of fear, or desperation, or a hatred of being by myself.
I have grown so comfortable with my own company that I believe I have developed enough confidence to walk away from the table when love is no longer being served, find food elsewhere, feed myself and know I’ll be alright. I’m not afraid of being alone because I have been alone. I’ve always been alone. And not only did I survive – I thrived.
If I have to pick between being with someone who doesn’t value me and being by myself, the choice is not difficult. Being by myself has always been a safe bet and many times the better option.
I don’t struggle with inner tug-o-wars of if I should be out more or stay home less. I don’t fear being alone. Being alone for another little while or the next long while no longer scares me as much as it did before because I’ve been alone for the past few decades and I lived to tell the story.
And if someone ever left me, or if my partner ever died, if I ever got divorced or found myself consciously uncoupled, I wouldn’t crumble. It would be hard, but I know I’d be okay. I could say to myself that I’ve done it before and I can do it again. I’d pick up the pieces and keep building and rebuilding and forging a path forward by myself. After all, I’ve been picking up pieces and forging forward since infancy.
Being single has taught me that I can take care of myself. I can do bad all by myself if need be. I change my own lightbulbs. I fix my own toilet. I kill my own bugs. I pay my own bills. I sweep my own floors. I cook my own food. I count my own reps at the gym. I’ve wiped my own tears. I’ve cheered myself on. I’ve cheered myself up. I’ve calmed myself down. I’ve weathered my own storms. I’ve solved my own problems. I developed my own talents. I know myself. I understand my individuality. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am at home in my body. I am at peace with my thoughts. I affirm my own beauty.
No one picked me up after class. No one drove me to work. No one made me breakfast. No one bought me flowers for Valentines. No one walked me home. No one held my hand at the grocery store while I was looking at butternut squash.
But I’m still here. And the thought that I’ve been on my own and made it (!!) is so intoxicatingly empowering that I don’t know if it could be adequately articulated. It is a constant reminder and enduring indication of my own personal strength and resilience.
I know how to stand on my own two feet. I did it all by my dammy. And I was okay through it all, which tells me that if life happens and if I must continue doing the same things for myself by myself, I will continue to be okay. I was okay, I am okay, and I will be okay. I was okay then, back in my single days, and I will be okay in the future, if I find myself newly single.
It’s given me the confidence to know that if all hell breaks loose I will still be able to live because I’ve done it before. My heart will go on.
I am pretty sure I have singleness down to an art form. I have discovered the sacred science of singleness. I have become independent and strong because successful singleness necessitates being independent and strong. Singlehood has made me thus. And I am thankful.
Don’t get me wrong — this is not a manifesto of self-reliance or super-independence. This is not a “I don’t need a man” diatribe. I would like to be coupled — I think – one day. But now it’s less about leaving the doldrums of singleness behind and more about meeting someone whose company I enjoy more than my own (because yes, I prefer my own company). Until then, I thank God that I’m single. I am the best thing that’s ever happened to me.