February 27, 2019

When It Takes Courage To Be Single

What I most want singles to know is: singleness is not a deficiency.

This statement came to my attention as part of the feedback from my Singles Wellness Survey. (If you haven't taken it, please do.). At first glance, this statement seems like it should go without saying! Yet one only needs to look at what society has deemed normative, to discover that singleness is viewed as anything but normal.

This morning during my Facebook time I was assaulted by ad after ad telling me that I needed to pair up! Dating site ads were interwoven throughout my news feed with captions about men ready, willing, and able to take on a wife, take me out on a date, or sweep me off my feet! (Insert cough! cough! eye roll! ROFL! So much I could say here but I'll try to stay on topic.) The underlying message to our singleness during our most vulnerable moments, or worse, feeding our subconscious minds (and assaulting our souls) is "you are not enough", "click here and you'll get all your longings filled", "you would be better off with someone rather than in the sorry state you are in now - single!" If you listen really closely those are examples of the subliminal messages singles read, hear, and see all around us. Subtle. Not subtle!

Now I'm not blaming society (or even Facebook ads) for the pressures singles feel to date, pair off, couple, marry, or partner up. It goes far deeper and wider than that. What's most important is what I think about myself, where I'm choosing to get my needs met, and what choices I'm going to make moving forward. And this journey is why I'm choosing to spend my talents, time and energy cheerleading other singles to embrace their single season - to give them freedom and permission to just be single.

Not only is singleness not a deficiency but I believe it's an opportunity! Singleness is full of possibility when you're ready to see it that way. Regardless of what life stage you are single in, a mindset to lean into this season could be a game-changer for you. It could mean a fuller life in the here and now, as well as in your future, and most likely a more fulfilling (next) relationship if you choose to couple again.

At this point, I want to acknowledge that individuals who are single are coming from many different lived experiences, circumstances, and reasons they arrived at being single.

Some of you reading this have not yet found a partner in life (and have a deep deep longing for that). I want to say something to you. I wish to tell you that I see you too and acknowledge that the concept of Embracing Single might seem almost, well, cruel. And so I want you to know that I cheer for you too - to find that love that you so long for. Embracing Single doesn't mean we shut down our longings. Longings are longings. There is no shame in a longing! They tell us that we are alive and remind us that we are made to be loved! They are meant to be felt. They are a part of the fabric of our humanness. You have every right to long for and dream for that special someone. You're designed for that. However, how and when that longing gets fulfilled might turn out to look very different than you dreamed it would be. What an adventure! For now, do you think you might embrace single not as a resignation of your aloneness but as a way to gently lean into the season you are in? And while you do that, would you allow others to journey with you while we cheer you on in your singleness and in your desire to find that special relationship? I hope that feels comfortable for you. Embracing Single is for you too. Take courage.

Some did not become single by choice. And some of you became single because you made the decision to remove yourself from an abusive or toxic relationship. Some of you may still be in such emotional pain from your past relationship that facing singleness, now and into your future, has left you paralyzed with fear. Others may be in a place where you can't think or don't want to think "single" because you don't want to be "single!" Others find themselves on the hamster wheel of serial dating or relationship cycling, constantly succumbing to the pressures from within and from all around that you are somehow deficient because you're single so you must couple. For some, your singleness is fresh and seeing this season as "possibility" or "opportunity" is simply too soon. That's okay too. You'll be okay. And there are many singles who are thriving and not struggling in their singleness whatsoever. This is likely because they are further along into their journey as a single and they are... Embracing Single.

To all who are single and struggling in any way, I want to be a gentle voice of encouragement that reminds you that there will be good days ahead. I want you to know there is hope - even in your single season. Most of all that you are not alone and that there are others who are walking this journey too. If you would permit me to coach you for a moment by challenging you to think about one thing that is possible (something that gives you peace or even joy) because of your singleness and go from there, but when you are ready. This is when singleness takes courage.

Here are a few more things that singleness is not.
... is not a bad thing.
... does not mean that you will be single forever (unless you choose to be).
... does not make you lesser of a person in any way, no matter what emphasis on coupling family, culture, church, or any other societal pressures you perceived to be as truth about singleness versus coupling (marriage).

For the churched folks: the Bible talks about singleness as a gift. I think most of us church kids grew up in a culture within a culture that emphasized marriage as the ultimate go-to for adulthood. That notion, pressure, belief - whatever you want to call it - has lead a lot of us church kids down self-destructive paths. Let me say that I believe that marriage is a beautiful and sacred thing but it isn't a union that makes us more complete as an individual. This is a complex topic and for another blog. I merely wanted to point out that singleness is revered in the Bible and as a kid who grew up in the Church I wish I had seen singlness as more of an option. Being single in the Church takes courage. If any of you have ever walked into a church service on a Sunday (or any church event) as a single person, you know what I'm talking about! This is a worth-while conversation but again for another time. I want to encourage churches to see singles, embrace singles, and minister to them in their singleness.

Here are my top 3 reasons that I believe singleness takes courage:

1. Singleness takes courage when you stop and take inventory of oneself, your past patterns and behaviors, and take responsibility for what you are responsible for as to why your past relationships have not worked out. As much as your single season can be an exciting season, it can also be hard work. It takes courage to know thyself. It's humbling. It's frustrating at times and it's easier to remain on the hamster wheel then to get off. Some things you're going to love about yourself. Other things may appear ugly. But the sheer courage to stop and do the work is a decision one should feel proud of!

2. It takes courage to take time out to be single in a world where it seems like everyone else is a couple. Of course, we know statistically, this is not true. In my previous blog, I pointed out that there are now more single households in Canadain history than ever before. But the perception that everyone has someone, especially, when that is a deep longing you have, can be painful. It takes courage to say that you, in all of your singleness glory, are enough! (Note to self: future Instagram post!)

3. Singleness can be financially daunting. Everyone who has lived alone and been completely responsible for the roof over your head, for every bill and expense, knows that this is a tremendous responsibility in an expensive world. It takes courage to be single when there is no financial safety net of another person's income. Then there's the future. Perhaps you are without a steady job, or a pension, and have had a life where it was difficult to accumulate savings. This isn't ideal but it's a reality many singles face. It takes courage to face the future as a single.

In the comments below, please complete the sentence: "It takes courage to be single when..." I would be interested to hear what you think.

In the meantime, please connect with our Embracing Single Group on the Meetup.com. You can find our group Embracing Single, Conversations for Singles in Greater Victoria on there. I am open to hosting more singles groups in person or online as momentum builds. Let's build a community where we can encourage each other to take courage!

Because every one counts,


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