|Photo by Jodee Nicholas|
The key here is in how to succeed at being single. If you're looking to succeed at being single, I offer the following pieces of advice:
1. Decide early where you stand on the issue of cats. The way that I see it, in-our-thirties-and-beyond singles can be divided into two camps: those who embrace cats as a calling and those who do not. (Knowing the temperament of most cats, I use the word embrace metaphorically.) Those who embrace cats often find fulfillment in the continuous rounds of scooping out the litter box(es), tempting picky kitties with tasty treats, playing simplistic games with bottle caps and bits of string, and in administering triage in the event of accidental love maulings. For those who do not choose to pursue the cat route, there are other options in filling the long, lonely hours. You could be one of those people who arranges the clothes in her closet first according to sleeve length, then according to color shades, and then frequency of wearing. Or you could be the one who arranges his home library according to the Dewey Decimal System. It takes all kinds. The real key here is to stay busy at all costs. If you're busy, you'll have less time to sit at home by yourself in the silence of your tiny, one-bedroom apartment contemplating the solitude of your existence. So, join a club. Take long walks. Pick up a new hobby. Volunteer for more activities than your retired neighbors do. Babysit your brother's five kids so that he and his wife can have a nice night out. If nothing else, that last one will make you feel remarkably more cheery about returning to a quiet, empty apartment at the end of the night.
2. Capitalize on the positives of your situation. Order your meals with extra garlic and onions. Leave the laundry until tomorrow if you feel like it. Fill the vegetable crisper with pungent, imported cheeses. Spend Saturday mornings taking long walks up the beach instead of ferrying children to soccer practice. Enjoy impromptu trips to Europe that necessitate living on Ramen and Saltine crackers for a month afterward. There's nobody around to complain about the budget or to blame you if everything goes wrong. (Other than you, of course. But I think you can handle you.) The key here is that for every single person bemoaning time spent alone, there is someone else out there who would give an eye tooth for the opportunity to sit still in a darkened room, sipping a cappuccino in the bliss of solitude. It's high time that you learn to enjoy the positives of your situation and ask for grace to deal with the rest, a lesson that your married friends have had to learn as well. In the event that you have enough time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, see #1.
3. Give yourself a goal. As we move through the educational system and early adulthood, goals are pre-set for us: get good grades, graduate from school, get a job, get your own place, etc. When we become adults, our goals become a bit more arbitrary. As long as your goal is not "To get married as soon as possible!!" this piece of advice will work really well for you. I'm not talking here about something noble and nebulous ("to impact the lives of those around me in a positive way") but something concrete and achievable ("to learn knife-throwing well enough that I can hit the bulls-eye consistently from fifty paces"). The more interesting your goal, the more fun you will have while achieving it, and the more fun stories you will have to tell about it later. The key here is to keep yourself moving forward. All too often, I meet singles (women especially) who seem to be living their lives in a holding pattern, as if their lives are only going to start once they are wives and/or mothers. Snap out of it, people.
This is your life. Enjoy living it.