***Written by Guest Author Lesley J Adams***
Valentine’s Day, or better known to the singletons as “Single Awareness Day” is fast approaching. Soon we will be bombarded by red coloured marketing themed in chocolates; hearts; roses & rose coloured chocolate hearts. It’s the day single people are presumed to dread. Sitting in a dark room, wallowing in self-pity, weepingly eating junk food while marathoning rom-com classics such as 50 first dates; how to lose a man in 10 days and The Ugly Truth, hoping for the day they find their own Catherine Heigl or Gerard Butler.
It is fair to say that Valentine’s Day is a reminder to many of how lonely they are, yet not necessarily just to bachelors and bachelorettes. On this day, the lonely bare witness to lovers that bask and adorn each other with gifts. Let us ignore the theme of “miserably single” and focus on what it means to be “confidently single” not only on this day but all year round.
“Tim* is single, why haven’t you two ever thought of giving dating a try?” These statements do not need a specially designated day but instead are gifted to me 365 days a year. Being a single woman in her mid-twenties amongst a mostly married-with-children staff seems to be controversial, especially when the youngest married woman in your office is twenty-three. You’re reminded daily that you are nearing an imaginary expiry date for marriage and children as if that is the only future you can aspire to. Even more so when you insist you are single by choice. People love to force on you to settle and “give chances” to illegible men who are assumed to be as “desperately single” as you.
The pressures and assumptions I have experienced as a single adult tend to deeply upset me, but not for the reasons you might think. I am reminded why when I was a young girl, all I wanted was to be in a relationship. I was convinced that my value lay solely in how desired I was by the opposite sex – a common struggle girls and women alike battle daily due to belief systems instilled into them from the time they could talk. I was easily swooned and held my heart on my sleeve for anybody who gave me any degree of attention, even if it was negative. My main goal was to finally have a boyfriend, the trophy that I could sway around, regardless of quality, to shout out to the world “Look, I am worthy! I am desirable!”
This focus distracted me throughout my school career. I was a good student, but looking back, I know for a fact I could have achieved so much more, prepared so much better for my future, had my priorities been different. Unfortunately, my goals had been blurred by insecurity and a societal misconception that if I could not find romantic love, despite all my other qualities, and that alone defined me and made me inadequate.
I was wholeheartedly defined by the male perspective. My self-love, so none existent, so crippled and misconstrued by society, by men, people who didn’t even hold themselves to the same high standard they held others. This behaviour continued long into my early twenties and soon I tired of the continuous disappointments my white-picket-fence expectations caused; the red flags I continuously made excuses for and the angry tears shed in the despondency of men who just did not care enough.
Finally, I decided to put an end to the noxious cycle. I had responsibilities now; I had a job with the prospect of becoming a career. I realised my potential and that I had room to grow as an individual defined by my standards. I went from someone who was a 24/7 WhatsApp junky, to just not feel alone, to someone who would reply to you 3 days later when I finally remembered, because I just didn’t care for forced conversation. I became selfish with my time, space and my needs. Basking in the contentment that came with putting me first. I observed the relationships around me, realising that most couples were unhappy, clinging to one another for the sake of not being “alone” or “single”. I would think to myself, if only they knew how liberating it was to just have yourself to please.
Did you know that if you google “What’s another word for single?” you will find words such as isolated; by oneself; odd and alone in the mix. We have created this unreasonable fear that to be alone, to be single, makes you unworthy, a quitter or means you’re flawed and will lead to inevitable loneliness.
How self-absorbed is society to not consider that we are all flawed, whether you’re in a 15-year marriage, dating for 9 months or have been single for 4 years. Humanity is inherently flawed and so we continue to pass on the cracks generation after generation, confusing and pushing ideals onto our children as we repeat the cycles our forefathers and mothers passed down to us. Many of those ideals remain as flawed as the history that influenced them.
Being single can be as, if not more empowering than having an extremely supportive partner. You are forced to be your support system. You come to rely only on yourself for affirmation. That enemy in your head, that your society-afflicted insecurities created, is forced to become your best friend because if you can’t love yourself, there is nobody out there who is going to do it better. You know your flaws, your deepest darkest secrets and the regrets that keep you up at night better than anybody does or ever will, so as you come to truly love yourself unconditionally despite knowing all that, you realise that you will not settle for anybody who shows you less than what you are already giving yourself. Anybody who wishes to take from that self-love, who wishes to change and mould you into something you are not, will not be welcome in your life.
Too many people focus on someone else before ever getting the chance to focus on themselves first. Having this idea that someone else is happy. Happiness is not a destination and it’s temporary just like people. Your only true absolute is you and how you choose to perceive the world around you.
Don’t misunderstand me, finding the right person you just meld with is amazing. However, we rarely go for exactly what we want, but rather settle for less or adequate, ignoring red flags; harmfully toxic traits and that someone makes our life more difficult than if we were single.
Confidently single is reaching a point where being single does not mean loneliness to you, but rather blissful quality time with yourself. You don’t need distractions, because you enjoy your own company. You’re capable of being alone with your thoughts. You come to value your own time and will not stand for anybody wasting it. With this will also come the resolve of never settling for anything that doesn’t add to your solitude & happiness. No matter how much those around you try to convince you that having somebody, be it any Jack or Jill is better than being alone. You won’t settle for thoughts like “I can change them.” or allow a partner to make demands of who they expect you to be. You become so confident about what you bring to the table. Any changes; introspection or growth you achieve will be according to your idea of the kind of person you want to be. You will appease only your standards and change aspects of you according to what you want for yourself. A worthy partner will not try to change the things that make you uniquely you and if they try, then they are not the partner for you nor you the partner for them.
Being confidently single also means that on days like Valentine’s Day, where the coupled-up are expected to devote all their time; finances and efforts towards the most extravagant declarations of love imaginable, we as singles can devote our resources on this day solely to our self-care. Who needs a partner, to make you feel special if you already know you are.
For the introverted or overworked singles I hope this Valentine’s Day you will take my advice and spoil yourself with a bath that looks like a witch’s cauldron, teeming with bubbles; bath bombs; bath salts and bath milk galore. Mud Masks and cucumber eye pads and brand new PJ’s will be your sexy outfit for the evening. You’re going to order-in from your favourite restaurant and get your favourite kind of dessert. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re going to pour yourself a glass of alcohol of your choosing, or availability, or make a steaming cup of hot chocolate filled with marshmallows and cream. Then you’re going to settle in on your couch or a satisfyingly roomy bed and have a date-night-in marathoning movie of the genre of your choice. The best part, it’s all about you, no arguing or compromise about what anybody else wants, this valentine’s day is undeniably just about you.
For the more extroverted, whose ideal night does not consist of being at home, I suggest you still enjoy a cauldron-like bubble bath, maybe adding a bit of essential oil of your fragrance preference, but instead of PJ’s you put on the outfit that makes you feel sexy. When I say it makes YOU feel sexy, I don’t mean what others tell you looks sexy, but the outfit you are your most confident badass self in. Decorate yourself in your favourite accessories, while rocking a fabulous hairstyle and to add a bit of fun, Valentine-themed makeup. Then go out for dinner; drinks and dancing the night away.
Whether you want to enjoy either of these evening choices with your best mates or happily alone, either/or you will find you are rocking the single life and going out with a bang this Valentine’s as the self-assured bachelorette/bachelor you are!
Did you know that if you google “What’s another word for single?” you will find words such as isolated; by oneself; odd and alone in the mix, but you’ll also find “free” amongst those suggestions. So my fellow singles, whether you’re lonely; on your journey to becoming “Confidently Single” or are already there, let’s pop some bubbly, alcoholic or not, in honour of having so much room to devote to our personal growth and futures. Let’s toast to our growing pains. Here is to becoming and being a happy confident single this Valentine’s and the other 364 days of the year.