Why Single Doesn’t Actually Mean Sad

I have read far too many an article either bemoaning or rejoicing over singledom. I have likewise spent far too long bemoaning or rejoicing in singledom with friends over cups of coffee, mimosas, margaritas, etc. If I’m being honest though, I neither bemoan nor embrace singledom. I am simply accustomed to it, the way one is accustomed to an old T-shirt or a well-worn pair of shoes. I have been single or mostly single or “sort of kind of single” almost all of my adult life. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. I don’t know if it’s because I’m afraid of commitment or clueless about love or just plain weird. Over the years, I have hated being single and then loved it and then hated it again, and so on and so forth. Recently, I have come to see my singledom not as a sad fact, but just as a fact.

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Growing up Christian, I often felt that singledom was treated as some kind of blight. “Singles Bible Study” was another way of saying “Sad Group.” The hope was that if you went to Singles Bible Study, you might meet somebody so you could graduate into Couples Bible Study (aka “Happy Group”), hopefully sooner rather than later. While this seems laughable to me now, I was undeniably drawn into the framework of single equals sad. In high school and college, I dreamed of finally discovering true happiness through meeting a special someone. Suddenly, all of my storm clouds would become rainbows, and I would discover the meaning of true love, and therefore life itself.

My dreams of discovering the right person and riding off into the sunset didn’t happen. High school and college ticked by, and I kept on being single. But despite the fact that I often found myself lamenting this fact to my friends, I eventually realized, that all things considered, I really wasn’t all that sad about it. I liked my life. I liked my classes. I liked being in French club (on second thought, maybe I was single because I was a huge nerd?). I liked being silly with my friends, going on weekend trips, exploring different coffee shops, and staying late to paint in the on-campus art studios. I don’t remember exactly when I realized that I was happy the way I was. Maybe one beautiful spring day, I simply looked out the window from my preferred seat in the stacks of the library and realized that I was enjoying life as a single person.  

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Either way, over time, this realization has led me to readjust my framework and has also impacted my relationship with my faith in a positive way. I have come to the conclusion that there are equally good and bad things about being single and being in a relationship, and that neither is better than the other. These days, I am less interested in viewing a relationship as a cure-all for all of life’s challenges, and more interested in feeling thankful for my life here and now. For one thing, I am grateful to currently attend a church where I can spend my time more authentically engaging with all aspects of faith, rather than feeling defined by my relationship status or pressured to meet the right person. I rest better in my faith knowing that I can be and am happy as I am. God isn’t holding out on me, and being single doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me or that I just haven’t prayed hard enough.

All this is to say that maybe single doesn’t mean sad, so much as it just means single. The grass may always be greener on the other side, but taking a moment to consider the grass I’m currently on has made all the difference. As it turns out, the grass on the single side is pretty good, which is something I hope everyone will come to recognize soon, too. My relationship status doesn’t dictate my happiness. No matter who I am or am not with, I am happy being me.

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