Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Shame: It Is What It Is

Today I checked out nine books on singleness from the library. Nine

While checking out, I felt the pressing need to tell the librarian that I was, in fact, writing a paper on this topic...(because, I am...). He looked at me and said, 'I can't even remember the last time I was single. I think it was... '83?' I resisted the urge to tell him that that was longer than I'd been alive and simply muttered a, 'Yeah, it'll be interesting...' He asked if I was single, I gave him the affirmative, grabbed my nine books and ran out the door. I was embarrassed for anyone else to see my stack of books and make assumptions about why in the world I was needing/wanting these particular books. Without a verbal explanation I knew what the assumptions would probably be (and yes, I'm aware that it's ironic that I'm making assumptions about other people's assumptions...). 

It made me realize that in addition to the pain of singleness, there's the shame of singleness. The older I get, the more I feel like everyone is secretly wondering, 'There must be something wrong with her if she's this old and still not married.' 

That beyond my own internal struggle with it at times, there's also the weight of what people think about me (or at least what I think people are thinking about me) that often bears down on me. Because it's always the questions you get... the 'are you dating anyone?' or the 'have you met anyone there yet?' or the 'when are you gonna settle down and get married?'. People are always waiting for the next 'big' event in your life to occur. It happens when you're about to graduate ('what are you going to do with your life in May?') or when you finally do get married ('when are you going to have kids?') or when you finally do have a kid ('when are you going to have another kid?')... 

And I don't think that people typically have ill-intentions when they ask these questions. I think we're probably just curious and we think it's a way to show that we care... but, on the receiving end of such questions and statements, I think we can often feel shame. Shame that we don't know what we want to do with our life yet. Shame that we haven't met 'that' person yet. Shame that we've been trying to have kids and we can't. Shame that we might not even want to have kids at all. Shame that we only want one. Shame that we can't get that job that we've worked so hard for. 

It's like there's this unspoken expectation and when we aren't adhering to that, people start to ask questions. Or else they just start to feel sorry for us. I don't often feel like there's much room to operate outside of other's expectations always... at least not without feeling like I'm constantly grinding against it as my life looks drastically different than most other people who I know that are my age (and even my own expectations that I had had for myself previously). 

I'd like to be in a place where my singleness isn't something I'm embarrassed about, though. A place where 'it is what it is', and it's okay right now. Because, ultimately, it is. Sure there are the hard moments and pains of what that entails, but I'm not about to pretend that marriage is going to solve all of the problems of loneliness or wanting to truly connect with others. There's a deeper Something that I think we're all looking for that was never meant to be filled by other humans....and therefore it never will be. 

My singleness doesn't have to be accompanied by shame. 
Because, at the end of the day, I'm still grateful that my life has gone the way it's gone. I'm still thankful for the opportunities that I've gotten that I wouldn't necessarily have had with a husband and kids. And I think there's a point where I choose to keep believing that there's more for me to do as a single woman and pressing further into that is more important than wallowing in absence of what could be. That there's more for me in what I've done, what I'm doing and what I will do (and ultimately what the Lord has done, is doing and will do through/in me) that matters more than matching up to the world's expectations of where I 'should' be in life. 

It is what it is. 
And right now it's good. It's necessary. No matter what anyone else thinks. 
There's much to be done and time to do it without any other distractions. 
Right now I choose to be thankful for that. 
There's no shame to walk in today...for today I get to walk in the fullness of my dreams, my passions, my gifts without having to compromise, sacrifice, or worry about how that affects someone else. 

Today I get to be single. 
I'll take it. 

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