Singlehood’s Embrace

Look at people as people, not prospects.

Those were my words of wisdom to my brother, whose high school graduation we celebrated yesterday.

It was a good graduation party — the most successful we’ve ever hosted — starting off with talk and food, and eventually segueing into a barefoot game of soccer at the park with about 20 people.

For me, it allowed some entertaining encounters with kids I barely know and a nice conversation with a friend I haven’t seen or talked to in about three years. During soccer, I kicked the ball beyond the field (my favorite thing to do), got hit in the face (resulting in a bloody nose, I found out later), developed a few thumb-size bruises on my calves and — through all of this — mulled over a conversation I’d had earlier, considering compatibility with the converser.

“Something happens when you go to college,” I told my brother, “and I’m going to warn you about it: you start reading into every conversation, every interaction, every passing glance that you have with people of the opposite sex.

Suddenly, the people you talk to aren’t just people. They’re potential life companions, spouses, husbands or wives. And if you’re single — even if you’ve always been — singleness is just a passing phase. Your real life has not begun. It doesn’t truly begin until you’re attached to someone else.

That seems sufficient to make the single 20-year-old female (i.e. me) feel pointless. Better find somebody — pronto! Otherwise, you’ll be stuck by yourself, and everyone knows that’s no way to live.

But wait a second. If I don’t want to spend my life with me, why would anyone else want to spend their life with me?

I spent a solid half hour the other night reading this article from The Atlantic. It touches on a lot of aspects of and reasons for single womanhood. I don’t agree with everything it expresses, but I thought it made a good point on the whole my-life-doesn’t-begin-until-I’m-hitched issue:

We are far more than whom we are (or aren’t) married to: we are also friends, grandparents, colleagues, cousins, and so on. To ignore the depth and complexities of these networks is to limit the full range of our emotional experiences.

If I am so focused on developing one relationship that may not ever work out, how does that impact my other relationships as a friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece, aunt, and employee?

I’ve always hated when my older brothers have spewed their relational worries — of never finding someone, of being alone forever, etc. — on me. What about right now? I’ve wanted to ask. What about being my brother? I’ve never had a problem with you being just that.

What is it about singlehood that makes us want to tear it off like a sweaty soccer uniform and scrub its nervous sweat off our backs?

I think it’s high time we embrace wherever we are relationally and stop neglecting full living out of our worries for the future. It’s time to quit seeing people as prospects, and just see people as people. 

Published by meredithsell

Freelance writer and editor. Nerding out over health & fitness, women's history, and untold stories.

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