“Yo sé perder / Pero / Ay ay ay, cómo me duele.”
-Selena, Como La Flor, 1992
-Selena, Como La Flor, 1992
Essentially I’m just smarter now, and the really priceless lesson here is centred around motivation. Why do I do things? Why do single women do things? It’s these motivations that led me to take a long, blinkless stare at the notion of singleness itself and wonder if maybe we’ve been thinking about it all wrong.
Much of my motivation throughout my singlehood has come from the desire to end it. I’m not trying to find my partner so that I can stay single, FFS. But why was my desire to end being single so strong? Why did I attack it with such ferocity, and see being single itself as the worst possible thing to be?
I’ll always spar with these questions, but what I know for sure is that I’m passionate about changing being single from the worst thing a woman can be to simply a thing a woman can be. Not a bad thing, not a sad thing, not a worrying thing — just a thing. Maybe even good thing, let’s get crazy.
One of my strongest motivations for this work is the fact that we do a lot of shit because "you never know."
Don’t feel like going out tonight? “But you might meet someone...you never knoooow.”
Does that networking event sound super lame? “But you might meet someone...you never knoooow.”
Tired on a Friday night because you worked your fingers to the bone all week but there are plans, somewhere so you should go? Because what if this is the universe sending you the one and only chance it will ever send you to meet your partner? Maybe you just ignore it to go home and relax and watch Russian Doll because you deserve your downtime just as much as anyone else? Maybe if you ignore these opportunities to meet people you’ll be single forever and ever and it’ll be all your fault? “You never knooooow.”
How many decisions have been made, how many things have been done against better judgment, exhaustion, and exasperation all because you never know?
How many decisions have been made, how many things have been done against better judgment, exhaustion, and exasperation all because you never know? I’ve been single for 11 years and I am truly tired of doing things because I’m afraid of the unknowable consequences of not doing them.
The flipside of that mattress is the way society and loved ones treat every decision I make as a possibility for me to find a partner.
New job? “Ooooh, you might meet someone...you never knoooow.”
Quick trip to Trader Joe’s for Cara Cara oranges? “Ooooh, you might meet someone...you never knoooow.”
All of this has only resulted in one thing: Living my entire life on edge and analysing every single moment and activity for its partnership potential. It’s exhausted me on one end, and disappointed me on the other. I’m going to say it: Sometimes you fucking know.
I know when something doesn't feel right to me. I know when something doesn’t feel worthwhile. And I know when I need to prioritise myself over my singleness, a situation that has increased in frequency over time.
My motivation as a single woman cannot be fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of missed chances.
My motivation as a single woman cannot be fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of missed chances. A life brought to you by Sliding Doors. So much of the pressure society has instilled in me around my singleness is that “anything can happen,” when I so badly wish I heard “it’s okay if ‘anything’ doesn’t happen tonight” more often.
At a certain point I was just exhausted. I was full of guilt and depleted of energy and I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I didn’t want to live thinking that every action I took (or didn’t take) was somehow going to punish me with a lengthier singlehood. As if that was something I deserved, as if my singlehood was ever a punishment to begin with. I never knew what was going to happen, but I did know how I felt, and I knew that I hated it. The unfairness and bullshit of it all simply boiled over, and I was done caring about “you never knows,” forever. Okay Fate, you wanna dance? Let’s dance.
I won’t live life afraid to miss an opportunity, thinking that without question, the opportunity I missed was the one that would have led to a husband — if I wasn’t so lazy, so cynical, so angry, or just so plain wrong. I want support in my belief that not doing a thing won’t bring about my punishment for not doing the thing. I want support in my belief that the way I am is just fine, and that the way I am is worthy of good things coming to me, regardless of whether or not I’m in hot pursuit at all times. I believe this support has to come from within me, because all that seems to come from the outside is, “you never know.”
My motivation as a single woman likewise cannot be guilt. I don’t want to feel guilty for my own singleness. I want to stop feeling like being single is something I should feel guilty for in the first place. What if being single wasn’t this terrible thing I had to end? What if instead it was just a thing that was happening? I’m pretty sure if single wasn’t a bad thing anymore, I’d feel a lot less guilty about not consuming myself with every activity that might possibly end it but still, in 11 years, hasn’t.
I’m also not a big fan of pressure. You know what I like to do? I like to put on an outfit I feel confident in, do my makeup, go out someplace, and never once scan the perimeter for signs of single men. I like not treating every time I cross my own threshold into the wild yonders of Brooklyn as an opportunity to “meet someone.” Maybe tonight is just an opportunity to get a bar seat at Olmsted, I dunno.
I believe in single women being free. Free to do (or not do) whatever they want because of whatever motivation is inside them. But the motivation that comes from the fear that our partner is hiding behind whichever door we don’t open, and the guilt that our singleness is all our fault, should stop being part of the decision-making process.
Being single is not our fault, because being single isn’t bad. There is no fault here, there doesn’t need to be fear here, and any guilt I feel comes from not recognising these truths for so long. I know I can be happy being single. I know I’m not destroying my future by missing an event. I know that whatever good is coming my way, be it partnership, professional opportunity, new friendships, etc. will come to me, because there’s a whole lot more at work out there in the world than my decision to skip happy hour. Good things will find us, no matter what. I know that for sure.