"Being single is about celebrating and appreciating your own space that you're in." ~ Kelly Rowland
I had my life pretty much all planned out. Down to a tee. Precisely the way I wanted it- finish high school, get my degree, embark on my career as a kindergarten teacher, meet prince charming, fall head over heels in love, get married, settle down, start a family and live happily ever after. In that exact order.
At school I would often sit in class and stare out the window and dream. I dreamt of the perfect white picket fence life, living in some cosy country cottage with my prince charming. I dreamt of the stuff fairy tales are made of. Still do.
I had expected to at the very least be in a relationship by now, and here I am, soon to be twenty four living with the challenges that come with chronic illness. No degree. No prince charming on the horizon. Stuck in singleness.
How naive I was to just assume that my life would pan out the way I wanted. How foolish to think that God's timing would be on par with mine.
Over the years I have at times struggled with my singleness. When everyone around me is pairing up and it seems I'll be the only single person left on the planet; it's easy to sink even deeper into depression over my single state. Everywhere I look there are couples flaunting their happiness.
On facebook, my newsfeed is currently flooded with pictures of engagements, weddings and babies (I'm talking every fourth post. I kid you not). I am happy for these people, really, I am but needing a block of chocolate to cope with my grief is becoming quite sad and shameful.
I am quite aware that I am not the only single person walkin' around town and I know that I am not alone in what I am feeling. That said, dealing with singleness and chronic illnesses certainly ain't no walk in the park. It's damn difficult. Especially when you have people questioning your singleness.
A common question I am asked when conversing with others is "Do you have a boyfriend?". On several occasions, I've even been asked why I am still single. Which is pretty darn rude if you ask me. Being single, these are quite awkward questions to answer.
Personally, those are not my standard questions of choice when I am getting to know someone for the first time, but I think some people resort to asking me if I have a boyfriend because nothing much exciting is happening in my life right now. I'm sure people think 'Okay she doesn't work or study, what else can I ask her? I know! Surely she must have a boyfriend. Brilliant. I'll ask about him. That gives us something somewhat interesting to talk about'.
I get the 'you don't work or study AND YOU DON'T HAVE A BOYFRIEND!!?? Wow. Your life must be crap!' look a lot. I also get the 'why, what's wrong with you?' look too. Funny that.
I guess people have a hard time processing that there are people who possess such amazing awesomeness like myself flying solo. I suppose my awesomeness is just too much for most guys to handle. In all seriousness though, the reason why I am still single is because searching for my love story isn't exactly a priority right now. I need to focus on other things like my health.
Chronic illness accompanied by mild social anxiety means that sometimes I socially struggle. Often due to fatigue and brain fog, I find it harder to form friendships than I did when I was healthy. Over the years, my confidence and self esteem have taken a beating due to some people's misconceptions about invisible illness. I often feel like I don't fit in and I sometimes feel like a social outcast because of my lack of living life. (I wrote about these feelings last year in Feeling Like A Loser: The Social Impact Of Invisible Illness)
Besides these issues, chronic illness sounds scary. The word alone is enough to send any man running to the hills. I'm not exactly every man's ideal dream girl. What's sexy about chronic illness? What's impressive about staying at home all day in your pyjamas somedays because you are simply too tired to do otherwise? Who wants to marry chronic pain?
I get a real kick out of responding to people who ask about my singleness with "Find me a man who wants to date and potentially marry a girl who has fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthrits, chronic fatigue syndrome and endometriosis" to receive in reply "Good point". Yeah, exactly. Damn good point alright.
I'm sure there must be some guys who are willing to date a day time television diva though. I'm sure there are some guys out in the big wide world who have 'find, fall in love with and marry a girl who sometimes struggles to get out of the house on occasion because of fatigue' at the top of their check-list.
As well as having my singleness questioned, I also have to deal with people who make assumptions about my status- yes indeed, there are people who instead of asking, assume that I do have a boyfriend. Before I had my license I use to cop "I bet you just get your boyfriend to drive you everywhere".
Nowadays I get asked what my boyfriends name is. This makes me feel even more upset about my singleness. And, is as you can imagine awfully awkward for the both of us. It's usually girls who ask and guys who assume. Go figure.
I suppose I should be flattered that people think that I am taken, but I hate feeling like my life seems dull to another because someone else isn't apart of it. I don't like the pressure that comes from being asked "Do you have a boyfriend yet?"or "You don't even have a boyfriend yet, do you?". Not only do I have multiple chronic illnesses, it seems I have single lady syndrome to add to the list too.
Being single is not a condition that needs to be cured. And just because we live in a family- centered society, doesn't mean that we should feel like we're missing something because we are not married. Being single is an opportunity. Being single is a blessing. I'm learning to be content and see it that way.
I don't need the support of a man to be strong. I can be strong on my own. I don't need a man to feel complete. I can be content on my own. I don't need a man to be happy, and I certainly don't need a man standing beside me for me to achieve great things.
That's not to say I don't desire a relationship. Some days my desire to date overwhelms and upsets me, but for the most part, I'm okay with being single because I know that's where I'm ment to be right now. I know that God is in control and I know that He has a wonderful plan for my life- including a man beyond my wildest dreams.
As Kelly Rowland has said, being single should be celebrated and appreciated. There are so many advantages to being single and I plan to make the most of them and enjoy them while I still can. Some of the advantages include:
- Not having to share twin packs.
- Spending (and saving) my money as I wish.
- Guilt free chocolate pity parties.
- Freedom. Doing whatever I want when I want 'cause I can.
- Not having to compromise.
- Being able to wear pjyamas all day without judgement
- Getting to know who I am. Finding my purpose and all that sappy shiz.
- Having the time to freely work on achieving my goals and fufilling my dreams.
- Eating cereal for dinner because I can't be stuffed to prepare anything of nutritional value.
- Sleeping diagonally in my double bed.
- Having a floordrobe. For those of you who are unfamilar with that term it means "A form of storage for clothing which requires no hangers, drawers, doors or effort. Simply drop on the floor and you have a floordrobe".
When you really think about it, being single ain't all that bad. And we shouldn't be made to feel like it is. Your purpose in life shouldn't be based on being in a relationship. Sadly for some people who I have conversed with over my single years, it is. Your self worth should never be measured by your relationship status, and no one should have to feel that their singleness is like a syndrome or some sort of a condition that needs to be cured.
Essay written by Emily Ruth, © chronicallycreative.net 2012
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