Monday, July 8, 2013

Challenges for Singles (In a Couple's World)


I know that the world doesn’t revolve around couples.  There are singles from all walks of life - by choice, by fate, or even by tragedy.

Like I’ve mentioned in a former blog post – I’ve been single all my life.  I’ve never been on a date, had a boyfriend, and I have yet to experienced my first kiss. 

Kenneth is to the right, I am in the middle.  Sadly, I don't
remember the girl to the right.
Okay, scratch that.  I did have a boyfriend in kindergarten.   His name was Kenneth, and he had red hair and freckles.  He even built me a birdhouse with his dad.  Once, he even gave me a haircut...One that may have needed correcting by a professional. However, as time went on, we realized that we were both too young to know what we wanted in a relationship...So…We ended it. We ended the relationship, and all other boyfriend experiences ceased to ever exist.

In the past, (especially in high school) I have desired to have the experience of going on dates and having a (real) boyfriend.  Living in a world where movies and TV shows make dating and relationships easy to find, it seems as though finding a date should be as easy- if not easier - than counting to 10.  However, the older I get, the more I realize that Hollywood gives false expectations to young girls.  Also, the older I get, the happier I am that I have avoided certain heartbreaks and awkward ex-boyfriend situations that many girls have gone through.

But now I am 21-years-old, and less than a month from turning 22.   I would be lying to you if I told you no longer had desires to have a relationship and deeper friendship with a guy.  The thing is…I do desire to have a relationship.  I think that’s normal for women my age – and any age across the timeline of life.

As time goes on, the more I realize the importance in the way I look at this desire. It’s okay to want a relationship.  I just can’t let my life focus on the possibility of a future boyfriend or future husband.  I can’t live my life in the moments of waiting for something that may not be in God’s plans for my life…Waiting for that “special guy” to come my way, to make my life complete.

Finding a man to spend my life with will not make my life complete.  My life needs to be complete in my relationship with God and confidence in myself as person, and nothing else.  No man can complete me, just as I cannot make anyone else feel whole.  We can only compliment one another.

This all being said – I also can’t deny the struggle that I have felt in moments of singleness.  Moments when childhood friends get married and have kids, moments of big dinners filled with young couples – except me, the only single person in the room.  Or even worse…Moments hearing of people who take for granted the love and relationship that they have with their spouse, betraying the other person’s trust in a single moment of extreme stupidity.  (I find situations like this to be the most frustrating.  What I desire to have – what I pray for – others forget the blessing that they have, and take it for granted.)

For the first time in my life, in recent months I have not only known I am single – but I have felt single.  There is a huge difference in knowing something in comparison to feeling it.

Being single, I’ve had ups and downs.   Through my ups and downs – I have compiled a list.  A list for things from experiences that shouldn’t be said to someone who desires a relationship, and things that you can do to reinforce that it’s okay to be single.
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1. A few months ago I went to a wedding.  It, in fact, was my cousin’s wedding.  We’re the same age and grew up as best friends.  Over the years, our friendship has changed, but I’d still say we are close.  I know that if I need him – he’s there for me.  If he needs me, I am always here to help him.

As my cousin and his new wife were cutting their wedding cake – that was the moment when I realized he was truly married.  (Yes, even after the “I do” and “You may kiss the bride” part.)  It was a moment when I realized that my cousin, my childhood partner in crime, was now grown up enough to be committed to another for life.  I was getting a little choked up when someone next to me jokingly said, “So, Crystal, when are you getting married?”…Excuse me?!??

While I am sure this person was joking, I found it to be hurtful and insensitive…and not very funny.   The only ceremony I am focused on going through any day soon is my college graduation.

2. When a single woman (or man) tells you the desires of their heart, don’t respond with something like, “You’re only 21-years-old!”  My response to that statement is, “So what??  What does age have to do with it?”   My 20-year-old friend got married a week ago, and my 22-year-old friend will soon be a mom.

When this statement is said (and it has), it feels as though my feelings are being devalued …It feels as though my feelings aren’t something to be taken seriously, just because I am 21-years-old.  I am person…A person with feelings and dreams, and they are important – no matter my age.

3. In regards to number two…If someone is confiding to you about their feelings in wanting to one day find a significant other, I don’t recommend saying, “God has someone special planned for your life.”  Only God knows if I, or anyone else, is meant to marry. There is something beautiful about marriage – but there is also beauty in being single. God may choose me, as well as others, to stay beautiful in our singleness.

4. Usually when cards are passed out in church settings or mailed to our house, the card is addressed to my parents…and me.  However, this year at Christmas time, my parents and I got a Christmas card from a new couple at our church.  The difference this time? This time I didn’t have to share with my parents.  The couple wrote me my own Christmas card!  Yes, I live with my parents right now.  Yes, I am single.  But giving me my own Christmas card?  This makes me feel valued and independent, and tells me that I don’t have to be attached to anyone else to be thought of in card or invitation settings.  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy getting my own Christmas card meant to me.  I encourage you to write a single person their own card - even if they live with their parents!  

There have also been times like when someone once wouldn’t give me a missionary’s prayer card paper to fill out – even at my request - as the person told me, “You don’t need one.  I already gave one to your dad.”  The service was still taking place, the missionaries were still speaking, and the other people sitting near me were distracted as they listened in on the conversation...and were baffled like myself.

Yes, I usually live with my parents.  But, I have been in and out of their house for about four years now – and at the time, I was preparing to leave for Germany.  The paper I wanted to fill out?  It was to write out my email address so I would be able to receive the missionary’s updates as they were sent out.  My email address is different from my mom’s, and is different from my dad’s.  I usually live with them – but I still live a life of my own as an adult.  I am independent.

While I know the person who refused to give me the paper and prayer card was probably trying to save a few trees, the situation did hurt.

5. This one is attached to number four.  If there has been big news shared with my parents, please don’t assume that they’ve told me.  Again, I do live with them, but I live my own life.  I go to school, help watch my cousin, hang out with my friends, and travel. If there is news that you want me to hear about – tell me and make sure I know.  I would love to hear the news as well as an opportunity to catch up with you! Please don’t rely on my parents to inform me.  They also live busy lives and may forget to tell me your news or information.

6. Don’t teach us, as singles, to wait for a spouse as though it’s the most important life event.  Teach us to live.   Yes, you should encourage abstinence of sex before marriage. However, teach us it’s okay to live in the moment…Teach us that our lives don’t revolve around meeting a potential life-time mate.

7.  Do encourage me – and other singles – to be confident and independent in who we are!  We are not defined by our relationship status.  Being single, we can have late nights with friends, have flexibility to travel, and have our own schedules.

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These are just a few observations I have made from my own life as a young, single woman.  I am sure that there are other single women (and men) who have made a similar list of their own.

Currently, I am single.  Maybe one day I’ll marry – maybe one day I won’t.  From my older teenage years until now, I have had my ups and downs with singleness and I am sure I’ll continue to have these moments.   But, I know it’s not just an issue for those who are single. Even people who are dating and people who are married have their ups and downs too in regards to their relationships, or what people from the outside say or do.

Please don’t think from this post that I am desperately seeking for someone to date – because I’m not.  In fact, I have a five-year “no man plan” in place (please feel free to click on the link!). Again, I do have my up and down moments and frustrations, but I’m embracing the single years…taking chances in doing things that may be more difficult for dating or married people to do – such as living in Germany for six months.

Single, dating, or married.  Life is a beautiful adventure – despite your relationship status.

The Travelin’ Chick,
Crystal

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