I once told myself I’d never write about singleness. Not because I was embarrassed or my relationship status, or because I didn’t think it was an important subject. Rather, I didn’t think it necessary to add to the endless, black void of blogs about being single, each one as cringey and unhelpful as the next. I’d often stumble upon such a post and be met with some middle-aged woman (now happily in a relationship/married of course) stating how her “season” of singleness was “...such a growing period!” “A gift!” and “Prepared her for her future spouse!” She may be even traveled a bit and had some girl friendships that were great substitutes until eventually, her long-awaited partner came into the picture. And while yes, you most definitely can grow as a single woman, and doing work as a single person can better prepare you to enter into a relationship, each of these depictions of this “season of life”, or even the fact that we often solely refer to a state of singleness as a “season” left a bitter, unsatisfied taste in my mouth.
Singleness has all too often been taboo, talked about as just “preparation for marriage”, or seen as a “waiting” season where you sit; idle and incomplete, until the day you begin a relationship, and suddenly your life begins. There were times in my life where I might have subscribed to these narratives, or held my single state with such contempt, earnestly declaring I didn’t feel anything on the subject at all. It was in my communication class this semester when my professor, Dr. Arrianna Malloy, summed up my exact experience. “I had some girlfriends who let their search for a relationship consume everything to the point where they literally put their lives on hold, and on the other hand, some who became so disdained by the whole relationship thing that it turned to bitterness and ‘I don’t need a man’. We have to find a balance- between honoring the longings we have without letting them turn into resentment. “ There is a tangible tension here, a fine line that must be walked between remaining open and yet unwavering.
My “middle ground”, if I may be so bold to say there is one, is that I have stopped living this part of my life in terms of “seasons”. That’s not to say that my life won’t naturally progress in such a way where there are blocks of time which can be easily grouped together, but rather that I will not continue to live my life, single or not, in a pattern of waiting for the leaves to turn or flowers to bloom.
I am not saying that being single is always fun, or that it is always easy. Especially when the all-too-often toxic culture of dating within Christian circles sometimes makes it feel impossible to see “happy” and “single” in the same sentence. But I am saying that the end goal of my life as a woman and a Christian may not, and does not have to be a relationship, or even marriage (visit Paul in 1 Corinthian sometime if you find yourself disagreeing with me). And furthermore, I feel that if the biggest dream I have chased in my limited time on this earth was dependent on finding another person, that I have not dreamed big enough. I have too much of a sense of the calling on my life and the Person who calls me to ever see myself in such limited light.
When I look back on the college years in which I have been single, they are nothing short of magic. I think of late night trips to the grocery store just for the heck of it and booking a last minute flight to visit my friend’s hometown in Taiwan, of landing a dream internship and all of the “dance it out” stress-break sessions with my roommates. I have poured myself into my studies, my ministry and art, and into learning who I am as a person and unlearning the parts I want to let go of. And if, at some point, I look back on the time I spent single from a different relationship status, I hope I find that I see the fruit of all the days I spent laboring to build into myself and those around me. I hope that the female friendships that have shaped me into the person I am aren’t just placeholders, and instead continue to be just as strong then as they are now. But I am not waiting for the leaves to turn or the flowers to bloom. Instead, I am unearthing the soil, tending to the dirt, and planting them myself.