I made an important discovery in therapy recently. A lot of my past fears around being single in adulthood (I'm 30) within our church culture stem from a lack of examples and faulty outsider perspectives. Meaning, I'm having a hard time thinking of women I knew when I was younger who were "older" and single AND happy. The women I can think of were (in my mind) sad lonely women with a life of emptiness. (LOL at little me) This may sound dramatic but if you think of how we talk about motherhood and wifehood in our church it kinda makes sense. We're told marriage and motherhood are the most important things a woman can do. So if a woman, for whatever reason, isn't doing those things, where does that leave her?
The purpose of this post is to shine a little light on adult single women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the most part, we are women on the fringes of mainstream church culture. Besides the one or two sentences in General Conference talks that nod in our general direction, we're pretty much unseen and unacknowledged. I hope this will give more insight into our story and help calm some nerves of any women joining our ranks.
Important note: This post is not trying to say being single is better than being married. It's not a competition. I always say "the most important role for you is the one your loving Heavenly Parents have designed for you." In our Church, marriage and motherhood are celebrated a lot. This is just a chance to celebrate single women. By celebrating people who are different than us we create more room to celebrate our own unique path.
Here is the big secret. You can be very happy as a single childless woman. Wild, right? Is being single tough? Yes. Can it be painfully lonely? Yes. But, we know that already AND so can marriage. I'm going to share a few insights gathered from my crew of smart, successful, single, and happy friends sprinkled in with before and afters of my recent home remodel.
When I bought my home two years ago I planned to remodel it with the husband I was confident I would have at this point. When those plans fell through, I thought "Well at least I get to pick the tile now" and that's exactly what I did.
One of the best parts of being single beyond 25 is simply having time to get to know yourself. I am a VERY different person at 30 than I was in my early 20s and I'm so relieved that early 20s Rosie didn't get to pick the dude I spend forever with. Really. SO grateful.
Over the last ten years or so of dating, I've had the chance to get to know lots of people on a pretty intimate level. While the rollercoaster of dating can be devastating and exhausting, it is also an incredible education. In all serious relationships, you face hard things. Through dating, I've had many chances to face hard things with different people. Each person teaching me a unique way to approach problems and life. I leave every relationship with a wealth of new knowledge and understanding. If you put in the effort, you can hone your social and interpersonal skills by constantly meeting new people at events and social gatherings. I've gained some of my favorite hobbies, music, books, and experiences through dating.
Having a career is exciting and very cool. Having professional goals and dreams is not bad. Working a job is not less faithful. Working and providing for yourself is so empowering. One of the saddest and scariest scenarios in my mind is feeling trapped in an unhealthy marriage because you're scared you won't be able to provide for yourself. Education and careers are not backup plans in case something bad happens, but they sure are nice to have in your pocket if it does. Expanding your knowledge and skill base will better help you become more like Christ. At the end of the day, it's just really nice to know you can take of yourself. Would it be nice to have a teammate to face finances and hard times with? Of course! But, when you're single, you learn that you are just as capable of facing those things alone.
Having your own money to buy what you would like and travel is also very fun. When you don't have to pay for ballet lessons or feed little mouths (beside puppy mouths) you can order all the extra guac you want. Now before anyone says this is shallow, please consider this. There are really great parts of marriage that single women don't get to enjoy. SO LET US ENJOY OUR EXTRA GUAC! I look forward to the day when my money will go to new school supplies and a zillion little socks. Honestly, I do. But I don't have that option right now so I'm going to enjoy spending my money on seeing the world, giving my dogs the best life, and guac.
As a single person, you don't have service opportunities crawling into your bed at 4:00 am with reports of upset tummies or bad dreams. You have to go out and look for them. This detail has helped me really value service opportunities and has taught me to always be on the lookout. I have a different schedule and different resources than my mom friends so I can serve in ways they can't. I mean that in a divide and conquer sense, not a competitive sense. I see this as an absolute plus, not a minus to singledom. Just like a mom can comfort her child in a way that no one else can, I find my own ways to serve and contribute that no one else can.
Speaking of kids crawling in your bed...WE GET TO SLEEP IN! I may not get to have sex, but sleeping in till 11 am when I want to on the weekend has got to a close second.
Now I don't want to give the impression that single people are lazy slugs. We're hustling and making good use of our time just like anyone else. BUT our busy is just different than mom busy. (Remember, it's not a competition. We're all in this together.) If you choose, you can use the extra free time to learn. I'm pretty sure that when I have kids I will be reading fewer books and articles. I'm so grateful for the time I have now to really focus on expanding my knowledge from insightful and inspiring media.
It's tough to be what you can't see and it's tough to imagine a happy single life if the cultural story is that single women are all sad, lonely, and have gaping black holes in their souls. Maybe we should stop projecting that narrative because I don't really see how it could help anyone.
I would love to have a partner in this life, but as of now, I don't and that's ok. My life is full and happy because the power and tools to choose happiness are all inside of myself just like every other human on this earth. Happiness doesn't come in the form of money, men, or more guac. Happiness is something we fight for and choose.
So if you're single and feeling a little stressed, I need you to go to Bed Bath and Beyond, buy that thing you have been waiting for a wedding registry to get and start living your wonderful life. The life gifted to you by your Heavenly Parents. No matter what anyone says, the life they have designed for you if the most important thing you can do. It is your highest and holiest calling. Magnify is like crazy and be happy.