November 1st, 2016.
It was late. I laid on my back with my hands interlocked over my stomach, staring at the ceiling as I talked to God.
This is frustrating. Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, something happens and I realize there is more to learn. More growing to do. More stretching. More healing. I just want to be done. I’m ready to be done.
And then, I understood. The growing, the stretching, the healing…will never be done. It is a process without end.
I am writing this post because I am single and I have been for a little over a year now. And I don’t talk much about my singleness on this blog because I have really struggled with the idea of being single throughout my life. You see, I have spent my whole life buying into the lie that singleness is just an in-between period. I have looked at it as a waiting game. Like if we work hard enough on ourselves and do enough of the whole “growing and healing” thing, Mr. Right will show up at our doorstep and we will finally be able to start living real life.
Society fans the flame with ideas about “becoming the type of person you would want your future spouse to want to be with” as if personal growth is only a journey meant for satisfying another human being. As if one day we will suddenly wake up as a perfect version of ourself and be ready to spend the rest of our life with someone.
Here’s what I know to be true: we are in process. We are always going to be in process. Michelangelo has the most beautiful way of saying it, “ancora imparo.” It means, “Still, I am learning.” If we are doing life the right way, we are always learning. Always growing. And that doesn’t change when we meet someone. Other people can’t “complete” us. We are human beings, not puzzles. We are fallible and broken. Broken plus broken doesn’t equal perfect.
Being single isn’t a cruel waiting game. It is part of the process…and a beautiful one at that. So with that being said, I’ve been reflecting on the last year or so of my life and wanted to share a few lessons this season of singleness has taught me.
#1 Don’t be afraid to be alone.
We live in a world full of individuals who are terrified of being alone. Silence is deafening. Solitude is punishment. We feel bad when we see people eating alone at a restaurant. Society says being alone is weird and sad. Society is wrong. How much of our life will be wasted if we can’t learn to experience joy on our own? We must learn to be present. You don’t need a partner to start living a life you love. Figure out what you want to do and go do it. Climb the mountain. Travel. Buy yourself sunflowers and take yourself out for Thai food. It’s not pathetic. It’s not stupid. It’s standing up on your own two feet and choosing to believe that joy isn’t just for the future. It’s for right now.
#2 The best investment you’ll ever make is in your own personal health.
Cliches are cliches for a reason. They are true. And I have found this one to hold true in my own life: You can’t expect to be able to love someone else well if you can’t even love yourself. Being a human is messy and hard. We make mistakes. We hate it when we make mistakes. We keep making mistakes. We are hurt. We are broken. We are fragile.
We have STUFF. Hard stuff. Really really hard stuff. and oftentimes we avoid it. We tuck it away for a while and hope that if we ignore it long enough it’ll go away and never resurface. We build walls around our hearts and turn off emotions that don’t feel good.
We have to work through it. We have to face the pain. We have to look our monsters in the eyes and slay them, one by one. Do what you have to do to slay your monsters. Go to the counselor. Go to the gym. See the doctor. Take the meds. Take some time off. Get out of the city for a few days. Pick your battles one at a time and fight them. Your capacity to love will increase exponentially when your energy isn’t being sapped by the emotional exhaustion created by suppressing pain from the past.
#3 Two words: I’m sorry.
Who needs makeup when you can just be humble? Humility is beautiful. Admit when you’re wrong. Be the first to apologize. Get good at saying you’re sorry without trying to justify your mistakes. Accept other people’s apologies and learn to forgive. If I haven’t said it enough yet, we are humans. We are inherently fallible. Own up to your mistakes, say you’re sorry, and keep moving forward.
Last but not least: Don’t give up on people.
We live in a world of instant gratification. The minute we want something, we can have it with just the click of a button. If we don’t like something, we can exchange it. It literally takes seconds for us to change the things around us when we feel uncomfortable. And sometimes that becomes our mentality toward people. All of a sudden a friendship gets rocky or a relationship gets hard and our first instinct is to find something else. The world tells us to run to something newer, something better, something more convenient. Staying is underrated and seldom celebrated. But staying is good. Relationships aren’t easy. Love is hard. It isn’t a series of fireworks. It doesn’t just happen. It is a choice. We choose who we love. We choose to stick around and care for people or give up. Don’t give up. Be the one who chooses to stay.