For the more than 102 million single people in the U.S., the holidays can be much like those old Cathy comic strips.
There’s a lot of yelling out “Aack!” and overconsumption of chocolate.
Like Cathy, I enjoy my share of chocolate and my mom’s cooking. I do have brown hair like her, but do not own any sweaters with hearts on the front. Plus I don’t have a meddling mother.
She’s already paid for one wedding.
Honestly, I’m not sure if I could handle such a mom. That’s mostly because mine has never really been the type to obsess over me getting remarried. Not once has she ever tried to set me up with someone’s “nice son with a good job” or bugged me about who I’ve been dating lately. She mostly wants me to be happy.
I’ve definitely had my share of happiness in singledom.
There’s all that time I’ve been able to do whatever I want, without anyone to answer to, whenever I feel like it. There’s all that privacy to watch awards shows or “The Bachelorette” without a man complaining.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they hate it so much.
I can eat what I want at any hour of the day. And yes, I’ve had chocolate for dinner and that’s it. Being single has allowed me to go and see places without reserve. Such freedom can be good or bad, depending on how late I stay out, and with whom. I can spend endless hours on Facebook or stay up until ridiculous hours of the night playing Words With Friends on my phone without someone wondering who I’m texting. I’ve actually had to take a little WWF break of late. Things were getting a little out of hand.
At least I was keeping my spelling skills sharp.
Sure, there are many perks to being single, mostly surrounding taking that time to be alone and look inwards at myself. I have been able to work on not being so co-dependent in relationships. I know what makes me happy. I know what makes me sad. I know how to problem solve on my own. I know that ultimately many issues in my life have come from my own decisions. I know in many situations, when bad things have happened, I only have myself to blame.
I can also give myself credit for any success I’ve achieved.
There is a lot of self-exploration that comes with being single. I’ve not always been so happy with what I’ve seen. Looking at myself so closely, of which I’ve done over the last several years, has not always been pleasing. I think coming to an understanding of why I’ve made certain decisions or pursued particular life directions is the one benefit that will come from being single.
Ultimately, I want the experience to make me a better person.
But it’s the solitariness and loneliness attached to being single that can make it tough. That’s especially true during the holidays, with so much focus on having a family and kids. Seeing others surrounded by the love of their children or partners can be the most difficult holiday characteristic to endure. Sometimes without someone there as a teammate or cheerleader, it’s easier to beat up on yourself or take the brunt of life’s problems.
That’s where I’ve learned to be a friend to myself.
Recently, I’ve had an old friend whom I have always had a close connection with open my eyes to my emotional and relationship tendencies and why I’ve decided to be single — because it has been my conscious decision to be so. I used to think it was all the men I had dated who were the ones with the commitment issues. I thought I was open to being married, or even having a boyfriend for that matter. I always thought it was everyone else giving me the “Heisman.”
That’s my name for that blocking maneuver from the Heisman statue.
In reality, it’s been me doing the Heisman. I’ve had my arm extended in front of me, pushing away the emotions. I’ve put up walls for years because I was hurt so many years ago. It’s hard to imagine more than a decade has gone by and I never really got over it. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends since I went through the most painful break-up of my life. I’ve just never looked at why they haven’t worked out. I’ve thought it was them, not me.
When it was really me, not them.
If I learn anything from another year being single at Christmas it will be that maybe I should stop being such a commitment-phobe. Maybe I shouldn’t be so scared of being hurt. Or hurting someone else, both of which have happened in my dating life in my 30s. Maybe love doesn’t have to require so much thought. Maybe I can start living in the moment and stop thinking so much about what will happen six months down the road. Maybe I just think about this holiday, and how it might turn out to be one of my best yet.
Maybe I’ll even buy myself a sweater with a heart on it.
— April E. Clark just might find herself under some mistletoe this year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.