So you’re twenty-something, [or thirty-something] and single. And as much fun as Taylor Swift’s song, “22” makes it sound, you are just NOT happy. Most of your friends are either married, engaged, or seriously dating the guy they’re expecting a ring from any day now.
You’ve faced that bittersweet phone call time and time again, where the high-pitched voice of your bff excitedly tells you that in T-a year or less, she’ll have a new best friend, and one that’s a boy. You muster up some excitement, because in all reality, you ARE excited for her…he’s a great guy, and she deserves every happiness.
But at the same time you can’t help notice the very naked ring finger on your left hand, and as much as you love your freedom and independence, you wonder if a diamond will ever take up residence on that finger.
I know what you may be thinking about me: “you are almost 30 [which is SOOOOO old…] happily married with a baby, what could you possibly know about the struggles of singlehood??”
Um, a lot. [insert sassy snap, snap, snap here.]
My 4 best girlfriends from high school [most of which I’ve been friends with since elementary school] and I are all still super close, and I was the LAST one to get married.
Every member of my family…no joke…ALL got married at or before they were 24. Guess who was the only one who DIDN’T get married at 24? Yup, me.
[Yes, I got married “only” 2 years later, at 26, but you can bet your bottom dollar, my twenty-fifth birthday came with a semblance of disappointment mixed with the feeling of being the odd duck in the family.]
At different points in 2 of my best friends’ weddings, [both of which I was a co-maid of honor] I was literally bawling my eyes out. During my speech in my friend Tammy’s wedding, [but at least most of the room was also crying with me…I was very proud of that speech] and while my friend Becky walked down the aisle. Literally bawling. I even had someone come up to me after Becky’s ceremony and tell me they were praying for me to keep it together, I was crying that hard. I’m sure her pictures turned out fab. [Sorry Becks.]
So, I get it.
I didn’t really date much in high school or college, partly because the guys I was interested in weren’t interested in me, and partly because the guys that were, I was scared of. [I was more scared of the whole idea of dating than being scared of the specific guy…but that’s another whole topic.]
Anyway, I faced my college graduation and had no romantic prospects. I was 21 [therefore very wise, right?] and was CONVINCED I would die a single old maid with 92 cats for company. And I don’t even like cats.
And every single wedding I went to felt like another nail in the coffin of my future love life. People would tell me all the time, “you just wait, he’ll show up when you’re not expecting it!” Um thanks, I’m 23 and single, NOT by choice…when am I ever NOT expecting it?!
I was mentored by my friend Toni my first year out of college, and at the time she was 28 or 29 and still single. I asked her how she dealt with the heartache of still being single, and she said, “I take it one day at a time. I tell myself I can handle being single TODAY. I don’t know about tomorrow, but I can handle it for today.” That really stuck with me. [And her love story with her husband is one that has God’s fingerprints ALL over it, and is so amazing, it gave me the hope of holding out for the guy God had for me.]
So I decided to take it one day at a time, and while I was single, I might as well do some fun stuff! So I interned with the ministry Cru/Campus Crusade for Christ for two years. I volunteered to help out with a conference in Spain, [I mean it’s Spain, so yes please!] and then my friend Jen and I went backpacking through Rome, Venice, Florence and ended up in Prague. It was an incredible adventure, and one that I’ll remember forever.
Then after those 2 years of interning with Cru were over, I joined staff full-time and moved to Indiana. [I know, of all the places I could’ve chosen, Indiana?? It’s really not that bad…I actually kinda loved it.] My friend Karen invited me to a Zumba class with her, and I fell in love. With Zumba that is. I decided to become a Zumba instructor, because why the heck not?
And all of the sudden I realized I was focusing on things other than the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend or a fiance or a husband, and I was actually ok with it. More than that, I was having FUN.
Some of my friends who got married before me haven’t had the same opportunities I have, to travel, explore different hobbies, and move simply because they could and wanted to. [I’m not saying they regret their choice in getting married younger, because they are all still very happily married, have had their own adventures and love the life they chose. I’m also not saying it’s bad to get married right out of college. Like I said, my friends and family who got married right out of college are very happy with their decisions, and I fully appreciate that their decision was the absolute right for them.]
The point I want to make is that if marriage is not the direction your life is headed right now, there’s nothing wrong with you! If you are looking at an impending college graduation or another birthday without a ring on your finger, you are not a lesser person than your friends who are getting married in the coming months. Being single is not a fate worse than death. You have a lot of options available to you and the freedom to make choices that are exciting and spontaneous. You literally have the world at your finger tips.
I’m telling you, once you get married, it’s not just about you anymore. You can’t pick up and go backpacking through Europe just because it sounds fun. You can’t move across the country to experience something new and different.
I’ve talked to so many single twenty-somethings who are so sad, and so desperate to be married to be able to “start their life.” Or fit in with their friends. Or be able to double date. Or feel loved. Or you name it. And I GET IT. I totally get it. I was that girl. It’s so hard to convince yourself you are content.
But how many times do we just focus on what we don’t have, instead of focusing on what we do? Like I said, if you’re single, twenty-something and graduating college, do something spontaneous. Go to Europe with some girlfriends. Or if that’s too expensive, go to California. Or Colorado. Or come hang out with me in exciting Xenia, Ohio ;)
Or if you’re still in college, sign yourself up to study abroad. My friend Amanda is currently studying abroad in Venice for 5 weeks, and having the time of her life! She’s grabbing life by the horns and really living!
Another one of my friends is in her mid-twenties, single, and decided to move to Asia in a few months to share the Gospel with people who’ve never heard the name of Jesus. She’s not waiting for a husband to move there with her, she’s following the Lord’s calling to GO. NOW.
I realize sometimes singleness can feel so lonely you actually feel physically burdened by it. I can’t tell you the number of times I called my mom crying, feeling like I would never find “the one.”
But I also know of friends who DID get married right out of college, and are already divorced. Sometimes it’s better to take your time with things, figure out who you truly are, and then figure out who you’re looking for.
I love the line from the book, Lady in Waiting, “Maybe we should stop focusing on finding Mr. Right, and start focusing on becoming Mrs. Right.” Instead of focusing on that finger that’s so bare it’s almost neon, and start focusing on all the other fun things you can do with that hand.
Be the next Katie Davis and move to Africa to love on a bunch of orphans. You don’t have to stay there forever, but I bet if you stayed a few months it would change your life forever.
Adopt a dog, or just go to your local shelter and love on the pups.
Save up some money and go on a road trip or a cruise with a friend.
Become a Zumba or yoga instructor! [It was fun for me, while it lasted!]
Who knows. I can’t promise that if you focus on something other than your lacking love life, your husband will magically appear, but I do promise you’ll feel so much more fulfilled, happy, content and alive. You may still be sad at times that you aren’t married, and that’s normal. But it may not be an overwhelming sadness that makes you want to curl up in bed, eat a pint of Chunky Monkey and binge watch Netflix for weeks on end.
That way, when the guy DOES come along, you’ll feel like you fully lived your life, enjoyed your singleness, experienced amazing things and settling down will be a perfect next chapter.
Of course, if you want to just wallow in your singleness and be sad day in and day out, that’s your prerogative, but just imagine if that was a guy, would YOU be attracted to him?
Ok, I think I’ve talked your ear off. Just know that I’m here, whether I’ve actually met you in real life or not. Yes, I’m married with a baby. But I’ve been in the trenches of singleness. I understand the loneliness. So if you need a shoulder to lean on, I’ve got 2.