Being on vacation is awesome. Being unemployed is painful and depressing. I've decided to take a summer vacation, not be unemployed. The two concepts have few differences. In both cases: I don't have to get up early in the morning, I have few responsibilities, and my time is my own. Whether I feel good or bad about it depends on the way I define my situation. I choose vacation and awesomeness, not unemployment and misery. Because, the way we define our state absolutely affects how we feel about it.
I think this applies to my single status as well. I am not in a relationship. But, I do not feel single either. I am on vacation from my relationships, in between them. The two are very similar: no relationship obligations, no stress over relationship status, no worries about someone else, no answering to anyone, no disagreements or misunderstandings, and, no hurt feelings. Awesomeness. (This is not say there are not really sucky things about being single, only that we don't have to feel so bad about it.) Being on vacation is better than being single because: vacations are temporary, they're fun, good for one's emotional health, voluntary, and most importantly, they imply the existence of something from which we are taking a break. Vacation implies the existence of a relationship. This is a vast improvement over singleness which can feel interminable and involuntary, with a dash of inferiority.
My friend complained of waking up to "single suckhood". I know what that's like. But I'm not feeling it right now. I'm sad about my break-up but not about my circumstances. I don't really feel single. I feel between relationships. So, I know the label "Single" creates more yuckiness than is necessary. It's the connotation of incompleteness, single as opposed to whole. Being incomplete, there is something wrong with my life, and wrong with me. In addition to that, we're surrounded by negative judgments and we absorb the negativity.
"Poor girl, still single."
"Don't worry, the Lord will reward you in the eternities."
"I sure feel sorry for her, not getting to be a mother."
"There must be something wrong with him, he's single."
"He's failing his responsibility as a man by not getting married."
"They're single, but by no fault of their own."
We've all heard these at church. We believe them, often, we put them on ourselves. If you're single, those words probably make you ill. Why? Because they mean that your life is less than. Sometimes, people think they are comforting you with these words. But they're not because the implications sting: it means that they think you need comforting simply because you are single. And because this kind of thinking leads to destructive ruminations: I am an object of pity. My life is tragic. I deserve to be rewarded for suffering my terrible life. I need to wait for another person before my life is valid. I am nothing without children. Being single is a failing. I am not a real man. So, of course being 'single' makes us feel bad. These conclusions are wrong. I have decided to free myself from them. I don't have to define myself that way. I'm on vacation.
We've heard this before, we should stop thinking negatively and we'll be happier. This may sound like the same pablum regularly served up to us, "You should enjoy being single," "You'll miss it later", "Stop feeling sorry for yourself" . . . blah, blah. Despite being well-meant, and bless their hearts for trying, that doesn't help either. The only thing they mean is that you should stop feeling bad. I'd love to stop feeling bad! But, how? Sometimes we're told, "Don't give up", or "Stay busy". Great. But that doesn't really work. Staying busy distracts you from negative thoughts. Which is good, but it doesn't change the way you define yourself. And no matter how busy you are, you still have to go to bed at night, and lie there alone and in silence. That's when it really haunts you. Especially the long lonely nights when you can't sleep. I am single. There is something wrong with me. No. There is not.
There is nothing wrong with me. My life is not incomplete, nor lacking. I have challenges, just like everyone else. Consider this parallel: I am not wealthy. I would like to be. Some things in my life would be easier if I were. But this doesn't make my life incomplete, or wrong. (Despite the propaganda from American Consumerism.) I made the choices that brought me to this financial state. I wouldn't change most of those decisions. Being broke stinks, but it is not a measure of my value as a human being. It's the consequence of certain circumstances and bad luck, it is not a condemnation.
Likewise, I am single because of bad luck and, as a result of certain circumstances and choices I've made. I didn't go to BYU. I didn't move to Utah. I pursued my education and career instead of men. I chose not to pretend to be like women that Mormon men prefer. I rejected the men who wanted to marry me because I knew we wouldn't be happy. I chose to stay faithful to my religion. I wouldn't change any of that. And, for a long time, I wasn't ready. I had a lot of issues to deal with. I own the responsibility for all of this. I am not a victim. That this is taking so long, is probably where bad luck comes in. Such is life. The point is, singleness is not a condemnation.
So, I will not think of myself as single and sorry. I am on a relationship vacation.