Single and (trying to be) Unashamed

“So what is everybody’s family like?”

There are few statements that strike trepidation into the heart of a single person faster. It was a well-meaning question, and a fitting one given the situation, but I was glad someone else answered before I had to go. Trying to keep things light, I started out, “I am me,” and said a few other things about myself before gratefully letting someone else talk about their 2.5 kids and house with the white picket fence. Talking about my parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews wasn’t the kind of family they were asking about, and I found myself almost ashamed to not have a better answer to that question.

Except I shouldn’t feel ashamed of it.

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Even though I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to not be single, it is a fact of my life. But in certain circles, particularly in the ones I tend to roll in, marriage and kids are part of what people are supposed to do, and anyone who hasn’t reached those “milestones” is often looked at with pity and seen as perhaps a wee bit of a failure.

It’s not a failure to be single though.

Some people actively choose it, and for those of us who don’t feel as though we’ve ever actively chosen to be single but continue to find ourselves that way, it is simply our current state of being. It might always be our current state of being, or it might just be the stage we’re in right now.

A relationship or lack thereof doesn’t define who we are as human beings or dictate our worth, even though it sometimes feels that way.

 

There’s a piece of me that hates writing this post.

Especially this time of year, singleness is written and talked about a lot. My blog archives show I write about being single almost every February, and I’m fully aware that writing about singleness can come across as whiney, repetitive, and even entitled.

It should be the most obvious thing in the world that relationship status does not equal worth, but when I’m sitting in a room full of married people, that can be difficult to remember. They didn’t do something especially right and get “rewarded” with marriage, and I didn’t do something especially wrong and get “punished” with singleness. However much it might feel that way to me at times, it is not true.

 

So I keep writing about singleness because I need a reminder that it’s not bad, it does not define me, and I do not need to feel ashamed when people ask about my family and I tell them about my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and friends who are so close they feel like family. A single person’s definition of family might look different than a married person’s, and that’s okay. Our value is not derived from the people who may or may not be around us, at this time of year or any other. 

And I’ll keep writing about it in the hope that I’ll finally, fully, truly believe it, once and for all.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. If you’re single, how do you answer questions about your family?

Celebrate All the Love

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and, as I expected, it’s bringing up some Feelings for me. But, along with the usual tinges of sadness that my life has not turned out quite the way I had planned, there’s something new this year.

I’m kind of irritated with the way “love” gets pigeonholed, made out to be just one certain thing.

Because while romantic love is a fine thing to celebrate, this time of year it gets put on a pedestal as being The Best Thing, The Ultimate Thing, The One True Thing. And it’s just not.

There are so many kinds of love.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Greencolander, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Greencolander, Creative Commons

I still haven’t found the words to adequately express my love for my nieces and nephews. They bring so much wonder, so much light, so much joy to our family. Yet the love I feel for them is a different kind of love than I feel even for my parents, who raised me and my two older siblings so well and demonstrate the beauty of a love that lasts because it’s worked at. And my siblings and their spouses–a kind of love that has endured years of pestering and teasing as the baby of the family. Then there’s the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all claiming and bestowing a unique kind of love. It’s surrounded me, even when I have not appreciated or recognized it, from even before the day I was born.

Beyond the love that blood ties together, there are the friends, the fellow churchgoers, the co-workers–people who, now that I no longer live with family, get the majority of my days in some form or another. I think I’ve finally reached the point that I can say with a bit of confidence that at least some of my friendships will be around for the long haul. Friends that (annoyingly) push me to be better, friends that make me laugh, friends that make me sit up and take stock of the type of person I’m becoming and whether it’s who I really want to be.

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m trying to not be blind. I may not have the exact kind of love I had hoped to find by this point, but my life is far from loveless.

In fact, if I had to pick just one–either romantic love or the myriad kinds in my life as it is right now–I’d take the kind of love I have. It is varied and frustrating and vibrant and maddening. It is real. It is alive. It is worthy to be noticed, to be celebrated. 

So I’ll celebrate all the love.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What kinds of love can you celebrate?

A Valentine’s Day Plea

Photo Credit: Flickr User Sister72, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Sister72, Creative Commons

This week includes Valentine’s Day, and as I have been for every other Valentine’s Day in my life, I am single. Most days I’m okay with it.

But I’d be lying if I said I don’t have times of wishing my life had gone differently, and around a holiday devoted to love and romance it becomes more poignant.

“Valentine’s Day is just a commercial racket to get people to pay exorbitant amounts of money for roses and chocolate. It’s not about real love.”

“Singleness is a gift. Be content and appreciate it.”

“Let Jesus be your boyfriend–he’s all you need.”

There are bits of truth in these statements (and bits of fallacy too).

 

But here is my truth, the one I live in right now:

I get a little jealous when I see people buying giant bouquets and stuffed animals proclaiming, “I love you beary much.”

It would be nice to have a special someone to share those “2 for 1” Valentine’s Day specials with.

I’d gladly get over the embarrassment of an obnoxious singing card.

I wish I had that one person I could count on to be on my side, who would give me a hug when I am sad and tell me things will be okay.

I wish for adventures in learning what it looks like to live in such a way that we serve God more fully together than we could apart.

 
I know the kind of love I want is not all teddy bears and flowery scents and candlelit dinners, but that doesn’t change my desire for it. I don’t think desiring to get married is wrong.

 

There have been, and will continue to be, times when I’ll get this all wrong.
When my desire to get married may cloud my view of the goodness of today.
When my loneliness may skew my perception of the ultimate purpose of Christian marriage.
When my plan for my life is not going as I had hoped, and in bitterness I shake my fist at the sky and defiantly ask God “Why?”

 
That day is not today.

Today, I don’t need reminders that God has a plan for every part of my life.

Today, I don’t need reminders that marriage is really, really hard sometimes.

Today, I don’t need reminders that the view of love I’ve read about and seen in movies is not an accurate portrayal.

Today, I feel a little sad.
Today, I feel a little lonely.
Today, I feel a little jealous.

And I ask of you, the world at large, please don’t tell me how to feel.

Not just me, but everyone around you.

Please don’t tell them to turn their frown upside down.

Please don’t negate their feelings of sadness or loneliness.

Please don’t remind them of things they have heard over and and over again with sayings that minimize honest feelings.

Feelings can go astray. I can become misguided, disillusioned, and make unwise choices when it comes to romantic relationships or a lack thereof. There may be a time I need someone to step in if my actions are out of line with what I believe and who I am supposed to be.

But please don’t tell me how to feel.

And I will try to do the same for you.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Has anyone tried to tell you how to feel about your relationship status?

Okay With Cliché

I don’t thrive on Imageclichés, and even my admission of this one is not something I’m particularly proud of.

But it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and as a single person, I get a little sad.

There. I said it.

I’m single, and most days I’m fine with that, but as stores fill up with cards adorned with hearts and “I love yous,” commercials remind people to buy sparkly things for that “special someone,” and restaurants advertise their “meal for 2” deals…well, my singleness settles in with a little more weight than usual. And it makes me a little sad.

It’s not as though I feel like my life is incomplete, that I am somehow only half a person due to the fact that my Facebook relationship status remains “Single.” My life is quite full of family, friends, church, work, school, internship, etc and so forth. I have been abundantly blessed, though I often take it for granted.

Still, there is a piece of me that desires a “someone” to split those “dinner for 2” specials with.

I have been told, and I have witnessed, that being in a relationship is not always a cake walk. Yet the reminders of “You should be happy to be single” come with a sting. There are other times of the year when people get sad, desiring children maybe, yet few people tell them, “You should be happy you’re not a parent; it’s not as easy as you think.”

So yes, it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and though I have wonderful people to fill my life with, I’m a little sad that I am not spending that day with “someone.”

And I’m not sorry for being a little sad. I’m not sorry for being a little cliché, in that I will probably eat chocolate, maybe watch a chick flick, and yes, possibly cry a bit. Because those things are cliché, and to an extent, so is my wishing to have “someone” for Valentine’s Day, but those feelings are valid. And I’m not sorry.

More importantly, as a Christian, I do not think there is sin in my sadness over being single. It’s not that I doubt God has a plan for every part of my life, including my relationship status; I believe that very strongly. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have a desire for a “someone” that is currently unfulfilled. It doesn’t change the fact that I have friends, whom I love dearly and am incredibly happy for, that have rings on their fingers while I have none. It doesn’t change the fact my Valentine’s Day will inevitably involve the witnessing of displays of love and affection that will not be meant for me. And it doesn’t change the fact that I will be a little sad.

So this Valentine’s Day, I will be a little cliché. I will not deny it.

And I will be okay with cliché.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~