It has been an extraordinarily challenging year, which is also a personal understatement of the year. And yes, I think is safe to say that ¾ of the way through. I keep wanting to post a personal update, but there have been so many ups and downs that to take time to write about it is like trying to pull over into a rest area in a car without brakes going 90 MPH. Every time I think I have something to talk about, it changes.
It also doesn’t help that I have had very little writing motivation lately. A symptom of depression is a loss of interest in hobbies, etc., and that one has hit me big time this year—with occasional respites and bursts of creativity.
One of the more constant difficulties has been singleness. Somehow I thought it would get easier by now—though, to be honest, I also thought I’d be not single by now. As with everything else in life, there are ups and downs. There are days when I’m grateful to be single, and days when I don’t care one way or another. But it feels like the low, needy, difficult times get lower and more difficult, and the grateful times grow fewer.
Perhaps one of the reasons why I thought it would be easier to be single as I got older is because one of the many lies I have internalized over the years (unfortunately, very much encouraged by many churches and Christian authors) is that God will not “bestow” the right man upon my life until I achieve a zen-like state of perfect contentment and fulfillment. Our fulfillment does come from Christ, but complete contentment cannot—or should not—be achieved in this life.
The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
~ C.S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain”
And as someone for whom satisfaction is not in her nature, I am never going to reach that point in this life, at least not for longer than 10 minutes. It’s pointless to strive for a certain “state” just to gain a reward. The Christian life is not a videogame, focused on achieving specific goals and gaining points. The best I can do is follow God one moment at a time, focusing on what I can and ought to do in the present.
The other thing that makes it more difficult to be single at a post-twenties age is the loss of single friends. No, they haven’t died—although sometimes it seems that way, for how little contact there can be. They do tend to disappear into Married World, spending the vast majority of their social time with other couples, or their significant other’s friends and family, and where they primarily discuss having (or not having) kids, and buying houses.
It’s not that I no longer value them as friends, but it is hard to stay involved in each others’ lives. It is also difficult because so often “the marrieds” tend to forget what singleness is like: the difficulties of meeting people, the awkwardness of being around overly affectionate couples and being a third wheel, not readily having another person to pick up the slack in daily life. Single people also are often expected to show nothing but pure, unadulterated delight for the married/ engaged/ pregnant friend, and to never ever ever let there be any hint that, mixed in with the single person’s very real happiness for their friend, there might be a little pain as well. And of course, the difficulty of this happening as one gets older is in seeing it happen again…and again…and again…all to other people—friends, family, celebrities—and never to oneself.
If this comes across as an angry, bitter screed, that is really not my intent. I just want to be genuine in describing some of the things I’ve struggled with, and maybe reach out in the hopes that someone else might connect with it.
Of course, I still have my single friends—quite a few of them, too, when I think about it. Each of them are also valuable jewels in my life, and certainly helpful in the most difficult and lonely times. Something I have learned from all of them is that there’s no “reason” why any of us are single—by which I mean, there’s nothing wrong with any of us. At least that means I don’t have to waste my time with thoughts like, “What’s wrong with me?” when it comes to being single. Because the answer is “Nothing.” Being single (or not single) isn’t about that.
Still … that doesn’t mean being single doesn’t absolutely suck sometimes.
Disclaimer: This post may tempt some people to offer advice, such as how to meet guys or how to deal with the lower points of singleness. This post is mainly meant to vent and offer sympathy for others in a similar situation, not a request for advice. At this point in my life, just like with my insomnia, I’ve just about heard it all before.