It’s a Saturday night and I’m at a party. Albeit, my Dad’s. It is the social highlight of my European summer and I say that without a hint of my trademark sarcasm.
Yep I’m 37, single and rocking out in the back garden of my family home where over a hundred of my Dad’s friends (the fact that my own Father has more mates than me both disturbs and delights me in equal measure) have been invited to enjoy an afternoon of homemade scones (because, BRITISH) and an evening hog roast (quiche and one raised eyebrow for the only vegetarian in the room).
As a parade of guest’s meander through the party, my sisters and I find ourselves air kissing and making small talk with a variety of people we haven’t seen for a variety of years.
We check in regularly to help each other out with names long forgotten.
“What’s that guy’s name with the grey hair and the blue jacket again?”
“Which one? There are 8 of them standing by the hydrangea alone!”
We make regular eye contact with whichever sister is caught speaking to a boring ‘uncle’ (not a real uncle –just a long standing family friend who stumbled upon the title years ago) both to show solidarity and to communicate “haha unlucky sucker!”
We make sure that Jackie from One Stop (the village shop) has a jacket as the sun sets and the fairy lights come on and we high five each other for the demographically appropriate playlist (all credit goes to my sister Jen for that one.)
But the only one of us who suffered condolences, was me.
Why? Because I, unlike my sisters, am…
Single. 37. And single. And get this. With no kids.
And this kinda freaks some people out.
You see, being at a party full of people you haven’t seen for anything from one to twenty years inevitably means answering the question many single people dread. “And are you seeing anyone special?” Now this is a perfectly harmless and normal question to ask. Natural one might say. But when I answer “no I’m single” the fear is released. Auntie Joan (not a real Auntie) doesn’t get it. Single? How can this be? Her bottom lip uncontrollably begins to droop; bent with the heaviness of sympathy I didn’t ask for or need. A gentle pat on my shoulder communicates that she sees it must be tough “at my age” and a patronising shake of the head lets me know she’s in disbelief at my “bad luck”. I resist the urge to shove a raisin scone in her mouth (credit to my sister Laura for the fruit scones) and I walk away.
Of course, Auntie Joan comes from a place of love. I get it. And had she not been the fourth person to react to my ‘tragic’ news in this way it might not have irritated me quite so much.
But I let it go and danced to ABBA alone whilst trying not to look like I was having too much fun – I am a spinster after all!
The truth is, most of the time I really enjoy being single. But as with everything in my life, it is my CHOICE to live in the benefits of what I have rather than sit in the pain of what I don’t.
So if you are struggling with some of the ‘curses’ of being single, listen up as I share 7 realities of single life – and how they can be awesome if you just choose to look at them that way.
- Always getting the shit bed at family gatherings where too many people are saying overnight in one house. Don’t be bitter about this. Get over it. It just makes sense. Why should two souls suffer the click-click bed in the dining room underneath the tick-tock of the spooky Grandfather clock when it could just be me. I get my entire king sized bed all to myself every other night of the year so who is really winning here?
- Never having a plus one at a wedding where you don’t know many people. Sure it’s nice to have a plus one. But not when that plus one makes a proper twat out of himself in front of your old uni mates. Dude, that’s my job.
- Being sick without having someone close-by to reassure you that you won’t die from one too many Strepsils. As I write this, I am coming out of a bout of some kind of flu/laryngitis/body-fail illness. And I will concede that being single and sick felt shit. But once the fever broke and it turned out I hadn’t OD-ed on lozenges, I was pretty pleased that no sexual partner had to see what dragged itself from my bed – some things can’t be unseen.
- Moving everything you own from one building to another because your housemate shacked up with her boyfriend. Also something I am currently in the throes of. Moving house is yet again one of those things you think would be easier as a couple than alone. But aside from lugging boxes (it’s a workout girl!) I’m kind of enjoying the process of making my own decisions about where and how I’m going to live. I don’t need to think about a garage for his pimped out car or a garden for his dick of a cat or where the bloody PlayStation is going to go. I once lived with a guy who had the worst artwork and I looked at it every day for 2 years before we broke up. 2 years!
- Being childless (or maybe you have kids and this doesn’t really apply to you). I still get sat at the kids table at Christmas. A bit like bed-gate (point 1) this just makes the most logistical sense (I’m small and the youngest of my familial generation. Oh, and of course, I’m single). But instead of feeling like the family leper, I choose to relish the fact that I am childless and therefore way more fun in the eyes my nieces and nephews. I feed them sugar. And then give them back.
- Travelling alone. It sounds scary. And it is. But I get to go wherever I choose, whenever I choose. And along the way I meet people and have conversations and learn things and do things beyond my wildest dreams. Yes, trying to get that middle bit of your back with sun cream can be one of the world’s most frustrating things but it’s not as annoying as rubbing sun cream into the back of someone who has forced you to spend your annual leave digging for a lesser known worm off the north coast of Wales.
- Being alone. It is the greatest gift to learn to be alone. To face this world with curiosity and learn where my values really lie without mistaking another’s for my own. I’ve done that before. And it didn’t feel good. Being alone has taught me the power of my own voice, the value of friendship and the strength of my soul. It has taught me hear differently in the silence, to feel my courage and to see my worth.
And so Auntie (still not an Auntie) Joan, your sympathy is a reflection of your fear. Not mine. And whether my next relationship lasts for a short time, or a long time or for the rest of my time, it will be because I am not afraid of being alone.