Who says that you can’t be happy and single? Is it the hundreds of memes that display singleness as this lonely “sunken place” of emotion? Or is it the groups of friends that we all have who are now moving on and getting married to their high school/college sweethearts? For some strange reason, the stigma of being single has been rounded up as a list of “what is wrong with you” questions and “when will you settle down” rhetoric.
But who says that you can’t be happy and single?…
For the past two years, I have been living single and getting my life together all by myself. Whether it was through finding a deeper purpose by writing and working out or scrolling through my options via Tinder, I have now entered a space where I am open and honest with myself, my sexuality and most importantly my heart. With people falling head over heels in love with the first person they met, I’ve decided to take a different approach in a world full of “fakers” by taking things slow, and learning what it truly means to be single, yet optimistic.
Here are a few of my personal take aways:
Embracing “lonely activities”
Once I graduated from college, I found myself in a semi-new town, with no friends, no family a new job, and nothing else to look forward to. For months, I would go to and from work, and would only interact with my coworkers. The random bar hopping and wild nights all seemed to stop once my degree came in the mail. I was depressed.
Not long after this rut, I came to the realization that I despise routine and what I thrive on most are new and exciting experiences, however, I no longer had any close friends at my disposal to partake in these carefree adventures.
So what was a girl to do?
Throughout my journey of singleness, embracing what I like to call “lonely activities” has been the epitome and nearly sole purpose of why I remain in this space. It all started as a simple afternoon out by myself for some lunch and quickly turned into fulfilling weeks of events all while meeting new people and picking up lifelong hobbies.
The key to doing things alone is to not get in the headspace of loneliness or what that may be defined as. Instead, take the time to think of the new possibilities that this new experience may bring you. For example, in the past, I would never have thought to go out to a bar or night club alone safety concerns aside, that’s just something that screams group activity! Now, I prefer doing these things alone because 1.) I can stay out or go in whenever I want without having that one friend to look after or wait for 2.) I’m in full control of how I want my night to turn out. No linking up with people who are going to rush you into getting ready, or nagging nancies who just want to complain all damn night.
I’m free to come, mingle, and go, as I please.
Setting boundaries, changing them and restarting
By now, I’ve mastered the ability to be a social butterfly all while remaining introverted to the core. As much as I enjoy traveling, trying new cuisine and indulging in an occasional FWB situation ship, the importance of setting personal boundaries is crucial to your mental health and spirit. A common misconception about single people is that we are closed off to the idea of love, or that we’ve been scorned to the point of no return, but for many of us, this is not an accurate assumption.
My choice to remain single came at a time where I felt as if I was giving too much of myself to a person who did not see nor valued my awesomeness. It’s like a hamster on a wheel, I was the hamster and my previous relationship was going nowhere no matter how much work I placed into it. Simply put, it was no longer stimulating me in the areas of life, love, and my pursuit to what it meant to be happy.
It was time to switch things up…
Setting boundaries and constructing a list of your own personal “wants” and “needs” in a romantic relationship will save you a lot of time and energy that may have been wasted on another f*ckboy or f*ckgirl. I’ve done this countless times (and continue to do so) while dating to help me further assess what I am looking for and what I can offer if and when I decide to take that next step.
Below is a list of several areas where boundaries would apply:
- Material boundaries determine whether you give or lend things, such as your money, car, clothes, books, food, or toothbrush.
- Physical boundaries pertain to your personal space, privacy, and body.
- Mental boundaries apply to your thoughts, values, and opinions.
Are you easily suggestible? Do you know what you believe, and can you hold onto your opinions? Can you listen with an open mind to someone else’s opinion without becoming rigid? If you become highly emotional, argumentative, or defensive, you may have weak emotional boundaries.
- Emotional boundaries distinguish separating your emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s.
It’s like an imaginary line or force field that separates you and others. Healthy boundaries prevent you from giving advice, blaming or accepting blame. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems and taking others’ comments personally.
- Sexual boundaries protect your comfort level with sexual touch and activity – what, where, when, and with whom.
- Spiritual boundaries relate to your beliefs and experiences in connection with God or a higher power.
Keeping an open mind to non-traditional relationships
Before I knew what I know now, I use to think that it was “levels” to any relationship. Whether it be platonic or romantic, my belief was that everything had a place and order. Again, I was wrong. The natural flow of two people does not come with mind games, Instagram request or compatibility online quizzes. Instead, it comes with time and patience as well as the openess of seeing where things may go.
The notion of “going with the flow” comes with harsh criticism from dating coaches and opinionist who believe that every relationship should have an end goal (to be married with children). At twenty-four with a ton of life in me, I have no burning desire to make permanent decisions based on what others think a relationship should be.
My outlook on singleness and dating has changed. Through experience, I’m learning that there is no set way of doing things, especially when it comes to what makes you happy. By finding yourself through lonely activities, setting boundaries, starting over and having an open mind, you can live a single, fulfilled life, while still being optimistic about the possibilities of what life will bring your way.