I used to see single as a situation to survive. It’s taken me years to get to a point of being able to say, ‘I love being single,’ and really mean it.
It’s not been easy to trek for sure. However, it has been a lifechanging one. Which all started the moment I began to look at single as something other than a status I needed to do everything in my power, to change. I embraced being single, and in doing so worked my towards thrive rather than survive.
How do you truly embrace single? I’ve jotted down some of my steps on that journey. I hope it helps you take a leap towards single and perfectly okay.
Rewrite the narrative of single for yourself
There is so much negativity surrounding the word, single.
I’ve been guilty of ruminating about my singledom. The same thing, over and over. Single is bad, single is not doing life right, single is shameful. It means unchosen, unacceptable, worth less than partnered. Single means living a very unhappy lonely life, one where I am bound for incompleteness and unfulfillment for as long as that single status lasts. Single is a problem, one I must not accept and instead should continuously fight to solve. I’ve repeated these negative messages to myself, until there was no spark of good left in the word ‘Single’ for me.
Yet a lot of my thoughts on single were influenced opinion, imprinted on me throughout my life. They were not the truth of single. Sure, I’d been single throughout phases of my life. But had I been single in any other way than what I’d assumed and expected it to be? Absolutely not.
I was so attached to the negative thoughts surrounding single, blindly believing the messaging that exists, without ever questioning the narrative
Without ever really giving it a chance to be anything other than shrouded with the feeling that accepting single and enjoying it, wasn’t something that could, or should be done.
However when I really thought about it, wasn’t it crazy that a relationship status seemed to define me? Shouldn’t single just be seen as single? The same as married is just married. Neither should be instantly seen as happy, or complete, right or wrong? Neither made it so either. I’d certainly been unhappy in relationships.
I started questioning the negative connection that has been formed around a single status, and realizing that it’s actually a narrative that needs to change in the way society views a single status. It was also a narrative I needed to change on how I viewed being single for myself. Because it had kept me in single survive for far too long.
Importantly, the negative narrative of single is in fact, a myth. Even if it’s one heck of a believable folk tale. My first step towards embracing the joys of single, was to dismiss the shame and stigma surrounding single, and rewrite the narrative of single for myself.
Leave the waiting room
I stopped treating my single time as a waiting room. Waiting for someone else’s arrival. Somebody else’s acceptance. Waiting for somebody else I didn’t yet know to show up and hit the, ‘Begin’ button.
I could live, like really truly live and enjoy it, right in that very moment. Because my focus, should have been on what I was doing, things I was going to do that day to give me a better present. Ways I could influence my future, singular. I ended up losing sight of how important my day, time and own life was. I’d been waiting to fill up my diary with ‘them’ time. When my diary should have been full to the brim with me time, only squeezing in time for them if they were worth it.
I’d gotten so lost in believing that singledom, meant not quite a real person who could enjoy a truly happy, joyous, fulfilling life. When the opposite, was in fact true
A relationship wasn’t required to enjoy my time. No relationship, didn’t stop me from living a passionate, creative, adventurous life. I had. Only by putting finding a relationship at the bottom of my to do, did I then have the opportunity to consider my purpose and prioritize everything else.
Chase after your passions, your hopes, your dreams. Don’t stay in a waiting room hoping for someone else to arrive before beginning your journey. You’re on that journey right now. Don’t be like me, who spent years of her life holding back, waiting for ‘The One’.
Your life is happening in this very moment. Go invest in your passions. Take up new hobbies. Learn a new language. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Whatever your dreams, hunt them down. This is the exact time to go out there and grab life with both hands. This is your time.
Date yourself and get comfortable with alone time
Seriously, do it.
Alone doesn’t have to be lonely, no matter what social etiquette tells us. Book that weekend for one in Norfolk just because you fancy fish and chips by the sea and a coastal wander. Plan in coffee dates for one. Go for long walks in the countryside. Book a gig and fly solo. Take some time to spend some time just with you. Dates don’t have to exist only when with someone else. Everything you do, is taking a step towards getting comfortable spending time with yourself and only you.
Learning to cherish alone time felt like a really important aspect of self-dating for me.
Suddenly there were no barriers to what I could do by myself. Friends couldn’t make that band? No worries, I’d go by myself. No-one else to book that trip away with? Cool, I’ll fly solo. Really want to see that film no-one else cares about? Why should I miss out, let’s get that ticket booked!
Self-dating really is just pushing the boundaries of what feels comfortable, and doing it anyway. It’s learning that time with you, is really quite enjoyable and empowering. There are no limits to how you spend your time when you aren’t held back by a need to do things with someone else in tow. And it’s a really empowering step towards enjoying being single.
One of the delights of becoming comfortable in my alone and intentionally spending time with myself, has been reclaiming a sense of self-connection. Previously I’d looked outside of myself for comfort, love and care. Previously, the solutions to my state of happiness were considered someone else.
Choosing single intentionally gave me opportunity to reconnect with myself. In doing so I discovered my sense of purpose again. Reignited my passions. Found a new appreciation for self-care. It forced me to acknowledge that it was me who needed to reconnect with me. I was accountable for how I felt emotionally, mentally and physically.
Reconnecting to myself lead to change. Personal growth if you will. Because I became intrinsically aware of what made me feel good or bad, what brought me joy or pain, and how I could bring about those feelings for those within my control, and therefore how I could change them. The importance of setting boundaries, and prioritizing myself. The influence of my internal speech, and how those conversations affected my actions. I found self-alignment and a reconnection to myself. I found me again.
Stop searching for someone else
Not a mandatory part of embracing single, but for me, it was certainly impactful. There is nothing wrong with single and dating, and I firmly believe that you can embrace single whilst being someone who wants a relationship one day. Because I was one of those people.
However if you are stuck balls deep in single survive – like I was – when you stop searching for someone else, and commit to a week, month, or unlimited phase of time without being on the dating apps or seeking out a future partner, it does help you to start finding yourself.
It also helped me to truly let go of the fear of ‘being single indefinitely’. As that was always my biggest concern. “What if I’m single forever?”. That question is what lead me to desperately date as if my very life depended on it. Make terrible relationship decisions. Become miserable and unhappy with my singleness.
Getting totally on board with being single, for as long as I needed to be single for, helped me to embrace that fear, and in doing so, find the joys in being single.
Nurture and grow your community
Often in relationships our nearest and dearest get side-lined a little. Now is the time to maximise your time with them. Pop over for a cup of tea just to say Hi. Book days out, schedule in meets. Spend time with your community. It’ll remind you that you are far from alone, and it will build your sense of connection with your people.
If you need them, make new friends. Ain’t nowt wrong with saying our community needs a growth plan. As we get older, lifestyles veer. Single feels a whole lot more isolating if everyone you know is partnered up or married with kids. So get out there and befriend some new people, even better if they are single ones!
Join classes. Ask a work colleague for coffee. If your friend mentions that their friend wants to hang, do it. It isn’t a quick process, but slowly you’ll accumulate a larger wealth of friendships with varying lifestyles. And when you feel more connected to your community, and have a larger group of people with similar interests and lifestyles, single becomes a more joyful experience.
Single with purpose
I began thinking about what would give my life meaning, outside of the search for a romantic relationship. If I were no longer prioritizing partnership or doing my damned best to not be single, what was a priority for me? What did I want to achieve in my life? What would I like to focus on? Was I passionate about something? Did I have dreams yet to be realized? Things I wanted to do that were left undone? How would I spend my time, and how would I spend it in a way that meant something fulfilling for me? How would I create my own happiness, by myself, and for myself?
Finding things that enriched my sense of meaning and purpose, lead me to be far less frustrated with my single status. I felt more confident and empowered by bettering my present, knowing it would support my future. I developed a sense of satisfaction with my life, which transitioned into my life as a single person.
My advice is get out there and find a thing that you can be passionate about. Find something that’s important to you, something that makes you feel good. Then do it often.
Put yourself first
If you are not okay, nothing in your life will be. You are in fact, the most important person in your life. Truly. Your wants and needs are therefore, more important than anyone else’s. Feels a little selfish saying that, doesn’t it? I know it does for me.
But taking care of yourself, prioritizing your needs, is not a selfish act. I would implicitly state that it is in fact, a necessary one. I’m here to tell you that caring for yourself, getting acquainted with knowing oneself better, and engaging in self-compassion, self-appreciation, self-betterment, and a little priority of you, is just as good and necessary. And there isn’t any better time than right now, whilst you are single, to delve further into what self-priority means for you.
Single is one of the only times you can really figure out what you want without any other person to consider other than you. You can experiment with self-dating in lots of different ways. You can start taking action based on decisions that align solely with what you want for your present and future. There is no more waiting. Every decision is for you, future and present. Because you and your life becomes wholly important, in a way that it never quite is when dating or in a relationship.
Your life is incomparable to others
It’s so natural for us to compare our achievements against others, but your life really is incomparable. The only thing comparison will achieve, is leaving you feeling shitty as you’ll concentrate on all the things you don’t have. Your journey is very different to anyone else’s. You might not be at the same place as them, but you are right where you need to be. Focus on your haves, rather than your have nots.
Another thing to bear in mind is that society generally only celebrates conventional ‘socially acceptable’ milestones. And single, is not one of them. Society is still too slow in recognizing being single as full of so much positive. Therefore if you measure yourself against the socially acceptable whilst single, you’ll never feel good enough.
A life, whether in part or in whole, lived solo, is not devoid of achievements or many things to be celebrated
I assure you that when you reframe your mindset, halt concentrating on what your life lacks, and focus attention on what great things your life has going on within it, you’re more likely to recall the advantages, freedoms, things going really well, the stuff that brings joy and happiness, and remind yourself what a great time it is to be single right now.
Sure, you might not have something someone else does, and that thing might be something you want one day. But does that have to mean that your right now, is altogether a bit crappy without those things? Can it not mean that you have opportunity to take hold of different opportunities, without the need to consider anyone else? Progress in your career, travel the world, pursue your passions, discover yourself, go on adventures, enjoy this time of freedom?
Because trust me, one day you’ll be in a relationship and you’ll look back on this single phase of your life and regret that you didn’t see all the good in it, and everything to be celebrated, whilst you were in the moment.
My final piece of advice here, is that social media is not real. It’ll convince you that happy partnerships are everywhere, but you are never seeing the whole picture.
Single self-care can be so many things. For me, it was finding peace within, and learning to get comfortable spending time solo. Creating some much needed healthy boundaries. Speaking up in an uncomfortable situations, and letting go of unhealthy relationships, friend or otherwise. Doing things that fed my creative needs. Actions, that made me feel really good. Empowering myself by pushing myself to new limits.
Finding a new purpose, to bring me joy and happiness. Learning to self-like, which eventually lead to self-love. Discovering myself. Rewriting my mindset on single to not be predominantly ‘I have not’ and more often be, ‘Look at everything I have.’ Nurturing connections with people close to me, and being open to new friendships along the way.
Single self-care can be made up of so many elements. And whether yours align with my own, I assure you that concentrating on self-care whilst you’re single, helps you to realize how important it is, and how important you are.
Embracing single for me, was all about working my way towards self-like
And in doing so, learning to self-love. That’s how I grew to love being single. Because I began to love spending time with me. I loved learning more about myself, and rebuilding self-connection. Finding meaning and purpose outside of a relationship with someone else, gave me confidence and empowered me that by being solo, I had so much opportunity to be who I wanted to be and more time to work towards that.
It might sound cringe to say you need to love yourself first, but honestly, you really do. If you don’t, you are more than likely going to end up where I was at. Fearing single. Making decisions that don’t make any sense, or heading into relationships that aren’t any good but you stay. You will backbench your interests, wants and needs because you don’t consider them priority worthy. You will allow yourself to disconnect from you, because other people are given a higher status of priority. And you will like yourself less because of it. If you feel pretty shitty about you, being single and alone with yourself, won’t feel that good.