My Existential Dilemma
A few weeks ago, I went out for drinks with some friends. D1 is a couple of months out of a 4-year relationship. D2 is happily married. C is two years out of a 7-year relationship.
And then there's little ol' forever single me.
C was praising her (relatively new) single life. She's one of those people who has always been in a relationship, and this is the first time in her adult life where she hasn't been a part of a couple. She's enjoying creating a home for herself, enjoying dinners out with friends, enjoying catching up with books and movies and solitude. For her, being single represents freedom.
I snorted. "Yeah, you're only two years in. That's the fun time. Talk to me after you've been single for a couple of decades."
All three of my friends looked at me, their jaws dropped. What was I talking about? I'm the independent single gal!!!! I'm Mary Tyler Moore! I'm Carrie Bradshaw! I'm Liz Lemon! I'm free!
I said, "Well, yeah, I'm free, but after awhile, that freedom gets sort of boring. That freedom gets (dare I say it?) kind of lonely."
This conversation has stuck with me over the past few weeks. It's not a feeling of sadness or unhappiness with who I am. It's not a feeling of self-hatred. On the contrary. I'm happy with who I am. I'm aware of all that I've accomplished and done, things that I probably couldn't have accomplished or done were I not single. But it's more an overwhelming feeling of...Have I missed the boat? Am I supposed to be doing something different? Have I made choices in life that have destined me to a life of solitude? Am I trapped in this existence?
And, as I said (though the Independent Girrls' Club of America will probably take away my membership card for even thinking this, let alone saying it) the freedom of being single gets kind of boring after awhile. Perhaps, in part, because that freedom is an illusion. I'm not spending my weekends dancing wildly at clubs (that was Years 21-29 of being single) or jumping out of airplanes (Year 33). I'm not picking up and flying to random foreign countries (not with a mortgage on my single-person's salary). No, as virtually the only absolutely single person I know, I'm spending my weekends much like my coupled friends are spending their weekends: Sitting on my butt watching DVDs and eating delivery. The only difference is that there's nobody to refill my glass.
Sure, I know exactly what I need to do to make my life more exciting. I can sign up for classes, join activity groups, go to singles' events, post a personal ad, etc. etc.
Been there. Done that. I desire genuine intimacy, not more activities.
The difficult thing, though, is that I don't feel like anybody gets it. They say things like, Oh, you're the type of woman who will be single forever, or, I just know that you'll meet someone. This is your year. My coupled friends all idealize my freedom. They stare at me starry-eyed, talk wistfully about my exciting social life, and ask when I'll organize another Girrls' Night Out. My recently-single friends are all celebrating in having control over the remote and being able to have cheap, one-night-stands. They see me as the eternally single gal, and they seem to think that I revel in this role.