“Life is not tried, it is merely survived / If you're standing outside the fire.” -Garth Brooks, 1993
I’ve lived a lot of my single life waiting for “someday.” I’ve tried dating apps, taken classes, accepted invitations to events from parties to panel discussions, scanned rooms for signs of unpartnered male life — all in pursuit of a future relationship, of someday. Ten years in, and I’m quite fed up with someday, honestly. It refuses to show up.
What bothers me isn’t really what I’ve done in search of someday, but instead the things I haven’t done because someday has taken its time. It’s a halting feeling, the idea that if you’re single, life somehow hasn’t really started yet. I’ve stopped myself from so much, thinking certain things were reserved for the version of me that was partnered, that they had to be saved like my Sunday best. I never wrote down a “when I’m married” to-do list, but there are just certain things people do when they’re married, and not before. An example? Do you wear a ring of any kind on your left ring finger, ever? I didn’t. As if a trendy ring stack from H&M was going to somehow confuse the relationship gods into thinking I was partnered. You guys, it’s fine...this is just the only finger they fit on.
I mentally saved so many things “until I get married,” because they were things I thought I should share with someone else. For some odd reason, I wasn’t enough on my own to enjoy them. On one hand, typing that out loud makes me feel stupid. But on the other, I’m proud of myself for eventually realizing that it was all bullshit. I don’t have to wait for someone else or a certain life status to do anything. If you’ve never been single well past the age you thought you’d be, this mental light-switch moment is hard to understand. For so long I let life glide by as good enough, because “someday” was so societally ingrained in my mind, and it was supposedly just around the corner. Maybe I was a little slow on the uptake, but eventually I got where I needed to go. Where I need to go now is Italy.
I’m finished caring more about someday than right fucking now.
I’ve never been to Italy. I’d like to go there more than I’d like to go anywhere else. My favorite wine is from there, my favorite pasta is from there (all pasta), and in general I dig ancient shit, and they’ve got lots of it. I travel alone all the time. Traveling alone is without question my favorite part of being single, and one of my favorite activities in general. It’s not that I won’t travel alone, it’s just that I’ve specifically saved traveling to Italy for when I’m not. For years I thought I wanted to see Italy with someone else, and only that way. Why?
The mental plans I’ve had in my head aren’t easy to let go of. If I’ve been looking forward to things for a long time, and I’ve had them in my head a certain way, breaking out of that mental box is hard. At least it was really hard for me, and sometimes still is. In my experience it’s best to start small.
To keep it entirely 100, I find that the easiest way to remind myself to stop saving things for someday is to buy myself shit. I enjoy buying myself things typically found on wedding registries.
Call it retail therapy if you want, but it helps. I’ve started with a well-equipped kitchen. Married people have fabulous kitchens, have you noticed? Part of it is shared income, naturally, but they also pulled a good Zola haul, too. I don’t think I should wait for things that will bring me joy, just because someday I’ll get married, someone might buy me things off my wedding registry, and then I’d have two. I think my present-day happiness matters more than a list of future items to return to Bloomingdale’s. The most recent example is a 4-quart french cocotte, a cast-iron baking and cooking vessel. It wasn’t cheap or an impulse purchase, but it’s mine, and it’s beautiful.
I also had to come around to the idea that my solo apartment isn’t temporary housing. It isn’t where I’ll live “until I meet someone,” it’s just where I live. And I want to make it a place I’m proud of. I can save up for a nice couch, and not worry that it’s too feminine for a man I might move in with someday. I want to look around and love where I am. I’m finished caring more about someday than right fucking now.
Purchasing household items might sound small, but that action is a big signifier that I’m done bucketing my life into “married” and “not yet married” activities.” Letting that idea go continually gets more and more gratifying. I’m one step away from monogrammed towels, I’m telling you.
It doesn’t mean I’m admitting to myself that I’m never going to meet someone, instead it means I’m going to enjoy the days before I meet someone just as much as the days after.
I think there was a fear that if I treated single life as permanent, it would be a self-fulfilling admission. It’s perfectly fine to live a single life fully, with permanence, positivity, and really nice pots. It doesn’t mean I’m admitting to myself that I’m never going to meet someone, instead it means I’m going to enjoy the days before I meet someone just as much as the days after.
It wasn’t easy to realize I was stuck in my own single. It’s hard to break free of thoughts and ideas I’ve had forever. I still have to remind myself to live a life that is more than “good enough for now” all the time. My single life today is just as valuable and worthy as my coupled life someday, and that’s the truth. I keep reminding myself to live that truth every day. Do what I want. Live fully. Save nothing for someday. Go to Italy.