A Season of Single Series, part 1: The Big Expectation

You may not know this, but the 3rd week of September is National Unmarried and Single Americans Week. Why is there a whole week dedicated to celebrating life as a single? I’ve been doing some digging into this and I’ve found some interesting statistics as to why this is an important week. Did you know that as of the last Census 112 million Americans were listed as single? That’s around 47% of our entire population. I suspect that when the new Census numbers come out, it will be an even higher number. With that being said, as the resident long-term single here at Safe Place, I decided to use this week to highlight some important aspects of the single life and how we can embrace it as a time to grow and learn about ourselves.

Being single in a world that sees marriage as one of the ultimate life goals has its challenges. When we are in our twenties and in college, there is an expectation that we will pair up, find our “soulmate”, graduate, get married and live happily ever after. The university I went to had an unofficial slogan, seen as a goal by most of the girls on campus, which was “ring by spring”. Talk about pressure! Those of us who didn’t pair off during that time were looked at with a certain amount of pity for not securing that future. After college, the pressure continues as we see our friends marrying and having children. The most common theme at both family and friend get-togethers seems to be, “So, are you dating anyone?” It becomes exhausting. On top of that pressure to couple up is the pressure to have children. Women often hear things like, “the biological clock is ticking”, or “you don’t want to run out of time!” Does the pressure ever stop? Sadly, it does not. I’m now in my mid-forties, and I still feel that pressure.

Society tells us that we are supposed to want to get married and have kids, but what if we don’t? Do you then have to spend the rest of your life defending that decision? The ultimate life-goal should be happiness; whatever that means for you. Some people will find that happiness in marriage, some in their career, or having children, and others by remaining single. There isn’t a tried and true, one size fits all equation for happiness. The socially constructed idea of happily ever after needs to be officially deconstructed. My idea of happily ever after may not look like yours, and that is perfectly ok!

The good news is that singles can and do live happy and fulfilled lives without marrying or having children. Whether it is just a season in your life, or if being single is a lifelong choice, this can be a time of really getting to know yourself, and truly deciding what type of life will make you happy. So, as this is singles week, I’ll be exploring a few other topics on being single and why singlehood shouldn’t be looked at as something bad. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts on being single and how it has impacted your life.

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