The other day, while I was walking home after leaving Gaspar at school, I put on an episode of podcast Hey Girl, with guest Rachel Cargle, "Public Academic, Philanthropic Innovator, and Social Entrepreneur", and a huge voice in the black community. It was all about spending time alone, self-nurturing and her decision to be child-free. I was particularly exhausted that day, from work, Gaspar and life in general. So when Rachel Cargle started explaining how fucking great her life is without a partner and a child, I felt like punching her well-rested face (with all due respect). Like I said, I felt especially moody that day.
This is what she says: "This quarantine has allowed me to really indulge in solitude, and what it means to be by myself. And what it means to decide what I'm going to do for the day, without having any sort of consideration for who else might be around, or who else might be affected by the decisions that I make. And that has been such a gift to me, the mornings where I wake up and decide "Is this going to be a day that I'm walking around nude all day? Or am I going to dress up just for me?" And the days that I put on makeup, and the days that I dress up, I'm really doing it for a reason that has nothing to do with another being on the planet. So this practice of solitude that has been forced upon me, being someone who doesn't have a partner or children, it has been such a gift to remind myself how glorious solitude can be when it's practiced in love, and practiced in abundance."
As she spoke, I realized that she's not the only one I've been listening to brag about the joys of being alone. So I couldn't help but wonder (lol) ... is singledom having a moment? Has culture been romanticizing the idea of loneliness lately? Is that a stupid question, especially seeing as some of us don't have a choice because, covid? It's just that it does sort of feel like people are really enjoying being alone, more so than before. It makes sense — with all this talk about self-care, and how spending time with ourselves and loving our company is crucial for our mental health. Basically it seems like a lot more of us have realized that being alone is OK.
I adore listening to my single girl friends talk over dinner about their weirdest dates, dirty texts, shocking Tinder encounters, drunken nights out, having sex with everyone they meet and surviving lock down without it. To be totally honest, sometimes their stories make me appreciate my relationship more, and other times they make me sort of wish I had no one else to take care of other than myself (and maybe my dog Ginja).
What has stuck out most for me in recent conversations, is that a lot of them admitted they enjoy being single so much, that it might be preventing them from committing to a serious relationship. Which is fine now, they say, but at the same time they're worried that they'll regret it later when everyone has settled down and all the "good" ones have been taken.
"I love my life the way it is right now, so whoever I let in needs to bring a huge amount of added value. I know I want a family, but I don't let this thought take over my life", said my close friend Vera, who just recently turned 30. She's gorgeous, smart, funny, co-runs her own fashion brand, and has been single for 7 years. The first 4 she was traveling on and off all over the world, so being in a serious relationship didn't make sense — instead she'd have steamy short affairs here and there (I hate her too). She's now settled back at home, and hasn't found anyone good enough.
"Dating at 30 is different", she continued. "It's like, I now know so much information about the reality of relationships — I've read so many articles and listened to so many podcasts — that I think it’s harder for me to be swept off my feet at this point. Yeah it's all great at first, but then in my head I'm thinking...this won't feel so dreamy in a year or so." We both take a sip of our Christmas cocktail and laugh at how sad this is.
Even though we're all about prioritizing ourselves, there's still a lot of pressure from society that a lot of us have internalized deep inside. "For a long time I was aspiring to be in a relationship, I told myself I wasn’t looking but I was also ‘not not looking’. There's this social expectation at the back of my mind that at the end of your 20s, beginning of your 30s, you're meant to get your shit together and find someone to spend your life with", said Anna, another friend: fabulous, sophisticated, successful...also single.
Anna used to feel quite anxious towards finding a partner, but she's let go a little: "Now that I've reached this age, I'm beginning to realize that the idea of settling down isn't as important to me as self-actualization. I'm still open to finding love and to the idea of settling down, but I'm not chasing it anymore...My tolerance for people who put zero effort and are too proud is ZERO."
Do guys feel the same sort of pressure? "The older I get, the more I feel that unconscious pressure from family, friends. Every time someone asks my parents, for example, “When will you’ll be grandparents?", all eyes turn to me. They make me feel that I’m not on the right track to building a traditional life — they assume that something is missing in my life. I can definitely feel some kind of pity from my parents and friends." Said M, a lovely 30 year old pal of mine who works in PR.
I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. But I can say that I loved how everyone I approached about this topic was so open and happy to talk about their lives, and how being alone has affected them — in good ways and bad ways. Very enjoyable conversations indeed. I, in turn, was honest about the hardships and many joys of being in a long relationship. One of the hardships that is rarely talked about, for example, is having to listen to the same stories over and over again — am I the only one who is bothered by this? lol.
Anyways, live your lives, be a slut, do whatever you want.
But remember to always make time for yourselves.
Wishing you all a joy-filled 2021.
damn. this hits home.