No person who has ever walked the face of the earth doesn’t know what it’s like to be single. I’ve been single all my life, so am certainly no stranger to it.
As my dark brown hair becomes increasingly flecked with silver, I’ve had to face up to the reality that I might remain single for the rest of my life. Being single isn’t always fun or easy, but it isn’t all that bad, either.
One in a World Built for Two
I think the most difficult part of being single, the part that never really gets any easier, is facing life’s challenges alone. Whether it be 101 little things that all go wrong at the same time or gut-wrenching tragedies, the loving support of a partner can make all the difference.
When you’re single and you’re tempted to chuck everything in the fuckit bucket and give up, all you can really do is have a good old cry, dry your own tears, and get on with it. I often have to adopt the same tactic when dealing with skin-hunger. There’s nothing you can teach me about masturbation.
Then comes the business of navigating life in a world built for couples and families. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever wanted to go on holiday alone, and checked the price of single accommodation versus the price of per person sharing.
Even buying groceries can be a challenge. I’ve often ended up with more of certain items than I know what to do with. The cost of living encourages multi-income households, which would be all good and well if I could teach my cat how to bake cakes for the local tuisnywerheid.
The Star in a One-Man Show
On the plus side of being single, I’m the star of my one-man show. There’s no sharing the spotlight, and there are no cutesy matching outfits.
I can cook what I like, without taking into account a partner’s tastes. I can eat all the asparagus and Brussels sprouts I want, and not worry about the smell or taste it imparts to certain bodily fluids.
There’s also no need for me to pander to a partner’s insecurities or possessiveness when I go out alone or with friends, and certainly no Whatsapping of pictures to prove I am where I say I am.
Being single offers incredible personal freedom, including the freedom to completely uproot my life and move somewhere else at a moment’s notice.
Most importantly, being single teaches me to find love within myself, to love myself, and to fully appreciate the love my friends have for me. Facing the challenges of life as a single person has shown me that I’m stronger and more resilient than I ever realised.
The trick to being a happy single, and believe me when I tell you that it can be a tricky trick, is a genuine and compassionate love of self. Get that right, and love comes streaming in. It might not be the romantic love of another person, but it’s just as real, and just as life-giving.
– Graeme Shackleford
Graeme Shackleford is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute, these are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.