“You’re standards are too high.”
“You don’t try hard enough.”
“You’re too good for him. / He’s not good enough for you.”
“You’re intimidating. / You’re not vulnerable enough.”
“Your life is too busy.”
I’ve heard them all, and if you’re single, you probably have, too. Being single, especially in Los Angeles, can be a never ending topic of conversation. In my 20’s it was the running joke. Admittedly, men were a punchline. I never really took them seriously. I was focused on my career and they were, at best, a distraction. That seemed acceptable, if not encouraged, by singles and marrieds alike. Horror stories and longing for single days from the marrieds, and hi-fives and laughter from the singles. That’s what my 20’s were supposed to be about, right? Building my career, enjoying my youth and making the mistakes that would lay a foundation for wiser choices. Done and done. I tip my hat to you, third decade of life.
Now in my fourth decade, a.k.a. my 30’s, I look back and see a girl who made the most of an inherently tumultuous time. I traveled the world, I worked hard for my resume, I loved, I lost, and I made an incredible amount of memories that I will laugh about and cry over until the day I die. My grandchildren, God willing, will hear some incredible stories. However, while I recognize that I’m still in the beginnings of my 30’s, I already see a theme. I turned a leaf, I grew up, and I realized that as much fun as I had being “selfish” in the last decade, this one is far more fulfilling by living it in service and with intention. That’s not to say that I lacked focus or kindness in my 20’s, quite the opposite, but I prioritized my own agenda and targeted goals that benefited me, and me alone. If it was good for others, all the better, but purposefully loving the people around me wasn’t yet my world view.
Men, while I still struggle with calling them a distraction, are of much more value to me now. Where I used to see entertainment and fodder for conversation, I now see an actual person. Yes, I recognize how that makes me sound. I’m being transparent for a reason. Without honesty, we’re not going to get anywhere. I wasn’t alone in this mindset. And in full disclosure, I still know too many women – and men – who cling to that outlook. If I have goals, interests, loved ones, and challenges, doesn’t he? So what are they? Who is he and what does he want in, for, and to see of this world? I care now. Not just because I want a partner, but because I want the right partner for me. I used to suffer fools lightly. Being that I was one of them in the dating arena, I gave and received a lot of grace. Now? I’ve been to the dance and I have a much clearer portrait of what, and who, I am looking for. He is a real person. Flaws and heroics alike. Finding him, and then knowing him, will take time and genuine, intentional effort.
I’m a person and I have a great deal to offer, and not just to a significant other. My time is valuable. I thank God for my good health, a job that I love, an ever growing ministry, a wonderful and supportive family, friends that *really* know me, and I them, a joyful dog, thriving entrepreneurial ventures and a comfortable home. All of these blessings require proper stewardship. These aren’t random bits of my life. I worked incredibly hard for all of them, even the dog. Those friendships came at a cost. To let someone know me and to invest in someone enough to know them requires time, patience, generosity and forgiveness. My health came with a tremendous price tag. Both in doctor bills and foregoing lucrative career options in favor of less stressful environments. The gym and eating right requires time, money and commitment. So does keeping a clean house, building businesses and properly stewarding my job and a ministry. I’m a busy woman.
That said, I am not so busy that I don’t know how to love. My time is a gift. Being single is a gift of time. If you weren’t using your time wisely before he or she came along, what makes you think you’ll use it wisely once they do? I have a life, but I’m willingly and ready to make room for him in it. When I offer my time and attention, or intention, to someone, it’s not at random and it’s not without sacrifice. Priorities shift and effort, real effort, has to be made to invest in another person. I’m so thankful for the healthy and transparent married couples I have in my life. Some have been together for over 50 years, while others wed just a year or two ago. Many have children and others are enjoying the quiet before the pitter patter of little feet. I have a very clear portrait of what being committed to another person looks like. Thank you, God, for that tremendous gift and preparation. But what resounds from all of them, both men and women, is legitimate investment and intention. Being a team takes work. Being known takes real work.
Yes, being single is a gift, but not in the contrite manner by which we’re often force fed the idea of independence and freedom. A partnership should neither be codependent nor confining, but rather an intentional investment in another person by which we’re both empowered and challenged to be better, stronger individuals. Being single is the opportunity to continue being awkward without someone else seeing it everyday. Being single is the availability to make decisions that affect no one but yourself. Being single a different use of time. Being single, at it’s very worst, is the hard work we do on ourselves, all by ourselves. I don’t know about you, but when I do the hard work on myself, in front of or at the expense of other people, it’s a whole other level of hard. And in that right, yes, being single is absolutely a gift.
I love my life. It’s an incredible portrait of some of my hardest lessons and favorite experiences. My high standards, hard work, and busy life might come off as intimidating, but not to him, whomever he may be. I won’t be too good for him, nor he for me. We’ll be two people willing to do the work and ready to invest in a greater gift than time. But until then, I intend to enjoy the gift I’ve been given and use it to do all the hard work I hope he never has to see. Because I’m nothing if not a fan of awkwardness in private.