How to Find Joy in Being Single
There's something about this time of year—the transition between saying good-bye to Autumn's colourful leaves and welcoming winter's cool frost—that causes me to feel this sense of pressure and urgency to be in a relationship. Maybe it’s a result of being asked at Thanksgiving by my family members, “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” and knowing that my answer will probably be the same at our Christmas dinner.
I have been single for almost five years. Despite being able to accomplish so much and meeting so many incredible people during this time, I still find myself focusing on the idea that I should be in a relationship. I've been on countless dating apps, aimlessly swiping left and right, while envying the people who are coupled up on social media. I've gone on dates that almost made me too hopeful. And I've also almost gotten into relationships that were certainly not for me. My perception of intimate relationships created an emptiness inside of me that I longed to be filled.
This is a familiar story for so many of us who find ourselves single in our twenties. Growing up, I was told that I would find "my person" at this age. As I continued to cross the days off my calendar, I felt an overwhelming fear and frustration that my time was running out and that I would never find the one.
However, through self-reflection and coaching, I learned that my urgency to jump into a relationship didn’t have much to do with actually wanting to be in one, rather, it was these beliefs and expectations I developed within myself that was causing me to experience this loneliness and desperation. And ultimately, it was causing me to miss out on the joy of being single.
Maybe you just got out of a serious relationship, or maybe you’ve never been in one. Or maybe you are desperately searching for your true love, or maybe you're too scared to get back out there. Regardless of where you're at in your journey, it is essential to remember that when you focus on what you do not have rather than what you do have, you experience less joy and peace in your life.
This world we live in is in love with the idea of love. Don't get me wrong, I love love too. But to live truly rich lives, we have to fall in love with the variety of experiences we have in this short time we’re here, and that includes the experience of being single. Trust me, the right person will come at the right time, but what you can do right now is embrace the joy of being single. But how?
How to Embrace Being Single
Change your focus
Like I said before, when you focus on what you do not have, you will experience more pain and dissatisfaction in your life… especially if you are clinging to the expectation that you are worse off not having it. When I focus on this idea that "it's bad to be single", I have an “everything sucks” attitude. Because I do not have that one thing, I cannot be happy and enjoy the other things in my life. However, by shifting my focus to what I do have, I can experience so much more joy and happiness in my life.
To shift my focus, I often utilize journaling to see how my thoughts are creating my experiences. Some days, I write things like, “I'm so lonely” and “There must be something wrong with me for being single”, and because I can see it on paper, I can catch myself and redirect my focus. I can shift my focus to things like: “By being single, I have more time to focus on my goals”, “I have so many awesome friendships in my life right now”, and, “There’s nothing wrong with me, my person just hasn’t found me yet.” Maybe even utilize this journal prompt as a way to help you get started:
What are my personal benefits of being single?
Kick comparison to the curb
As you scroll through Instagram, what do you see? Some aesthetically pleasing food? An adorable dog video? Or how about the cutest couple photo you’ve ever seen? The first thing our minds do when we see something that looks desirable is we compare. Do we have that thing? And if we don't have it, we often belittle ourselves and experience more pain and dissatisfaction.
The reality is a photo does not capture the whole picture. Sure, the photo may be CUTE AF, but relationships are really, stinkin’ hard at times. The couples you see online have their adversities and hard times. So when you think that “they have it better than you” challenge your thinking and remind yourself that an image does not tell you the depth of their relationship.
A way to let go of comparison is to ground yourself in gratitude. What are you grateful for in your life right now? Write 5-10 things down on a piece of paper. When you see it in front of you, it allows you to be grateful for what you have and recognize that you're simply on a different path than those around you. Let go of comparison and start living your life in this present moment.
Develop a healthy relationship with yourself
You cannot cultivate healthy relationships with others if you do not have a good relationship with yourself. To start a good relationship with yourself is to have self-awareness. It’s about addressing these questions:
- What do I want for myself?
- What qualities or experiences do I need to accept so that I can move the needle forward to self-love?
- What sort of fears do I have? How might they be stopping me from getting what I want?
- How do I respond to challenges and crises? How might I improve my response so that I can bounce back faster?
- What things allow me to experience the most joy and peace in my life?
When the answers to these questions are crystal clear, you will take actions that align with your wants and values. When I was in a relationship, these answers were certainly unclear for me, and instead of doing the internal work, I depended on my partner to fix me. When you expect someone to fix you, eventually it will create toxicity in your relationship. A healthy relationship starts with you.
At the end of the day, the most important relationship you have in this life is the one you have with yourself. Take this time when you’re single to cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself so that you will find your person when the time is right.
Turn to your other relationships
Non-romantic social connections are just as essential as romantic relationships. Our friends, family members, and even acquaintances all play an essential role in our lives. Although you may be alone intimately, these people can take away those feelings of loneliness and bring so much joy to our lives (another thing to remember: people in relationships can still feel lonely too, so leave your assumptions at the door).
When you find yourself thinking of the drawbacks of being single, think of these people. Even grab a journal and answer these questions to remind yourself of the other people who are important in your life:
- Who is your role model? Why are they your role model?
- Think of the most recent person who did something kind for you. Describe them. How did it make you feel?
- Who do you enjoy spending your time with most? Why do you feel this way?
- What is the most recent lesson you learned from a family member or friend? Why was it valuable? Why was it a gift to your life?
Work Towards B.A.G.
B.A.G. = Big Audacious Goals. Start doing the things you’ve always wanted to do while you're still single. When you add another person into the mix, it can be easy to fall off track with personal goals (I know, I’ve been there). Now is the time to show yourself self-love by doing the things you’ve always wanted to do and extracting meaning in your life in different ways. Is your goal to travel to a new country? Do you want to launch a podcast or write a book? How about starting the business you've always wanted to have? Whatever your gut tells you, listen to it and start from there! Ultimately, life is about doing things that make you happy, relationship or not. Working towards a B.A.G. can allow you to reap so much meaning in your life.
Gain clarity on what it is you want in a partner
Now is a great time to determine what it is you want in a partner. But how do you even decide that? Behold, the boyfriend/girlfriend/partner resume. Yup, you heard me! This past summer, I was fortunate to work with an awesome client who actually helped coach me on this topic and provided a useful strategy to help me find my "person"! She told me I should write down every possible thing I want in a partner and use that as a guide in the process of finding someone I'm compatible with. In writing my list, I decided to call it my “Boyfriend Resume” (must be the business graduate in me). Now, any time I meet someone I'm interested in, I look at it to see if it checks those boxes.
Now it's your turn! Get out your journal and write down what it is you want in a partner.
For reference, here are some things I put in mine:
- Is curious and asks me a lot of questions
- Is open and honest with me
- Is very affectionate and says “I love you” often
- Doesn’t take on my stress but is still my rock
- Is a fantastic cook (because I’m not)
- Is a dog person
- Likes to banter and is receptive to my sass
- Doesn’t bash their ex-girlfriends
- Loves my whole self
Being single has always naturally held a negative connotation. But like being in a relationship, it’s an invaluable experience that will teach you incredible life lessons, allow you to focus on your goals, and give you time to form important non-romantic relationships. By changing the narrative of how we view being single, we can view it in a positive light and truly experience joy in the process.
Written by Guest Author, Hailey Rodgers