Below is a guest post from a very loyal reader of The Spinsterlicious Life. I think Dee is amazing: she’s mart, funny, and adventurous. She’s also tired of people who try to make her feel bad about being single. I’m happy to run her guest post:
Not long before the holidays last fall I went to get a manicure. Salon manicures are not something I usually do, but someone had given me a gift card for my birthday, so I made an appointment.
At first I sat in the chair across from my nail tech in awkward silence. Just when I thought she wasn’t going to try and make conversation with me, she started asking me questions — first about my curly hair and then about my life.
Are you married?
(I knew where this was headed.)
How old are you?
That’s when her eyebrows raised with concern. She didn’t look up at me, but her expression said it all.
“Maybe you’re too picky,” she said shaking her head.
I just brushed it off and hoped for a subject change and that she’d get the second coat of my red polish on quickly. Some birthday present that turned out to be!
I read somewhere recently that people can’t make you feel bad about something you don’t already feel bad about. So if someone calls you crazy, it means nothing unless you buy into it yourself. Put another way, no one can make you feel bad without your permission. I was giving this stranger (and society at large) permission to make me feel bad. I felt bad because (and I hate to admit it) I have bought into the belief that it’s shameful or embarrassing not to be partnered up. I don’t so much care about the kid thing, but the relationship part can trigger single shame in me big time.
Single women are constantly bombarded with messages about finding/keeping a man. On TV sitcoms, romantic comedies, magazine and online articles, online dating commercials, family, friends, coworkers. It can be extremely hard to tune all of that chatter out and actually stop and listen to your own voice, your own inner wisdom that knows what’s best for YOU. The radio static can get even fuzzier when close friends are fretting over their own single/childless state. They are fretting and anxious, so it can make you anxious and before you know it, you’re stressed and life is passing you by.
I’ve decided I’m done. I’m done stressing. I’m done being anxious. I’m done waiting. I’m done fretting. I’m done analyzing and trying to figure it out. Most importantly, I’m done caring what society/family/friends/the media has to say about what I “should” do with my life. The more I thought about the woman in the nail salon, the angrier I became. Why was I letting complete strangers make me feel bad about my life?
I realized as I thought about it (and got angrier about it) that if I completely turn off the outside world, I really don’t care if I get married and “settle down.” It’s just not a top priority in my life. When I stopped and asked myself if I actually want a relationship or if I just want to ease the social pressure, my truth is that more than anything I want to silence the social pressure, judgment and shame. I even reflected on whether I want kids (even though I’ve always been pretty sure that I don’t) just to see how it feels in my body to sit with my decision – without the commentary playing in the background. And, nope, still don’t want kids.
I’ve always known my own truth. I can just get sidetracked and thrown off of my Spinsterlicious game when the barrage of messages becomes too loud. When that happens I get in a panic. (Side note: I even briefly looked into adopting a child when a friend of mine was agonizing over her biological clock. That idea lasted five minutes.) I’m working on staying centered in my truth and not getting knocked down so easily. My aha moment came when I realized that I have the power to stop internalizing the messages.
So here I am ready to continue living my Spinsterlicious life. Only now I’m done with the anxiety. Because I know the anxiety is not about my own true desires, it’s about peer pressure and a human need to fit in and be “normal.”
Here’s my plan: Go “deep single” (love that phrase) and live my life on my terms endeavoring to fully savor my freedom. Seek out new adventures. Continue to travel. Continue to decorate my apartment and make it my sanctuary. Continue to enjoy my work, hobbies and friends. If I meet a great guy along the way, great. But I’m no longer holding out hope that some guy needs to be “the one” so that I can quiet the anxiety. That’s way too much pressure. I’ll just nix the anxiety now, so that if he doesn’t show up, I can live in peace.
I’ve been living a Spinsterlicious life all along. I just needed to get back in touch with me and remind myself that I got it going on!
How about you? Do you ever get sidetracked and question your own truth? What are your strategies for regaining your footing and getting centered?