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The Single Woman
LIFE, LOVE, AND A DASH OF SASS
By MANDY HALE
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Amanda Hale
All rights reserved.
The Single Woman Says:
Not everything in life has to be about finding The One. Sometimes a girl just wants to have fun.
Being Happily Single doesn't mean you've sworn off love. It doesn't mean you're ready to sign a lifetime oath of singleness, or that you've given up the hope of finding your Happy Ending. It simply means that you're determined to have a Happy Everything. It's recognizing that you don't need or want to be rescued from your life by a handsome prince because your life is pretty awesome as is.
Happily Single is traveling wherever you want, whenever you want. It's doing Zumba around your apartment in your pajamas at midnight and eating ice cream for dinner if the mood strikes. Happily Single is devoting your time to your passions, dreams, and goals without distractions. It's figuring out your path before you join someone else on his. Happily Single is refusing to compromise any part of yourself to fit into a mold someone else created for you. It's having the permission to choose your life rather than having it handed to you, and it's living life on your own terms instead of those that are expected of you.
Happily Single takes a strength that most women will never know. It's refusing to let your life be defined by your relationship status and instead defining it yourself. It's laughing in the face of stigmas and stereotypes. It's showing the world that for you, settling is not an option.
Happily Single is also the precursor to Happily Taken. You simply can't have one without the other.
Happily Single is holding out for the best and letting go of the rest. It's saying "I will and I can" to yourself before you say "I do" to someone else. It means you're not looking for a better half because you are already whole. And ultimately, it means that someday when you do invite someone to join you on your journey, it will be because he complements your life, not because he completes it.
Alone but Not Lonely
The Single Woman Says:
Being brave enough to be alone frees you up to invite people into your life because you want them, not because you need them.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the word alone and how it carries such negative connotations. I decided it might be a good idea to look this word up because so many people seem to have such a problem with being alone. Why not get to the bottom of what's so dreaded about this little five-letter word?
The first definition I found reads: "separate, apart, or isolated from others." Now look closely at the second definition: "unique; unequaled; unexcelled."
Think about that. Many people are so terrified to be alone that they settle for loveless relationships or stay trapped in miserable ones for months, even years, on end. But as it turns out, alone means "unique; unequaled; unexcelled." In other words: Unparalleled. Unrepeatable. Unable to be imitated or duplicated. Brave. Fabulously original.
Before you willingly allow yourself out of desperation to be a party of two, to be locked in a cage that was never meant for you, take a moment to reconsider your options. Ask yourself:
* Do I really want to settle for a relationship out of loneliness?
* Can't I still live the life of my dreams, even if it's without the man of my dreams?
* Should I really let the status of my love life stop me from loving my life?
* Do I really want to ground myself just because I happen to be flying solo?
* Do I want to let other people's opinions stop me from bravely charting my own path?
Or do I want to be the woman who might hope to someday find her One and Only ... but who, in the meantime, boldly walks alone and dares anyone to call her lonely?
Single After Thirty—What's with the Panic?
The Single Woman Says:
You don't need a significant other to lead a significant life.
I recently paused on one of my favorite morning shows just long enough to see a promo for an upcoming story called "The Sooner the Better." The tagline was "New studies show that 90 percent of women's eggs are gone by age thirty." I had to assume the news anchor wasn't referring to the kind of eggs you make an omelet with, so I immediately grabbed the remote and flipped off the TV before some know-it-all "expert" could deliver his message of gloom and doom and perform his last rites on my eggs.
When did being single after age thirty become a war zone of warnings and dangers to avoid? "You better get married soon, or you'll be an old maid." "You better hurry before all the good ones are gone." "New studies show that 90 percent of women's eggs are gone by age thirty."
Why is our singleness being treated like a terrorist threat? It's like, "Green—she's dating someone. Whew! No chance of her winding up alone and desperate." Or, "Yellow—uh-oh, another relationship just bit the dust, and she's the one who ended it. She's thirty-one and choosing to be alone! Transition to old maid considered imminent." Or, "Red—she's thirty-four and not willing to go out and marry the first guy she sees even though her eggs are vanishing quicker than the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity meal at IHOP. She's actually taking her time and waiting for Mr. Right. Danger! Danger!"
I would like to propose that everyone put away the scare tactics and take a closer look at the lives of their over-thirty-and-single counterparts. We might not have Prince Charming kneeling in front of us with a glass slipper, but we can afford to buy our own sassy stilettos and escort ourselves to the ball. We pay our own bills, file our own taxes, change our own oil (or cruise on down to Jiffy Lube on Ladies' Day for a half-price oil change, but you get the point), and make a million little independent choices each day without the support of a significant other. It takes guts, bravery, and heart to walk a mile in a single girl's shoes. And sometimes a fabulous pedicure.
Lately I have been so proud to watch my single friends not only venture outside their comfort zones but completely shatter their comfort zones to live their most fabulous lives. One friend has had a lifelong dream of becoming an actress, so she finally ignored the cautionary tales doled out to her by friends and family and is wholeheartedly pursuing her dream. I have another who recently got on a plane by herself and jetted across the world on a trip to Paris—by herself. And still another friend worked up the courage to overcome her huge fear and ask out a smokin' hot guy at her office. Although these things may not seem like earth-shattering accomplishments, they are bold examples of what life can look like for a woman living life on her own terms.
At the end of the day, the Happily Ever After of a single girl may not look like everyone else's, and maybe we've encountered more Mr. Right Nows than Mr. Rights, but we're not going to give in out of fright and settle for less than the best. So stop with the scare tactics and realize: Not everyone has to ride off into the sunset with a man. Some of us just want a tan.
There Is Nothing Single About a Single Mom
Recently I took my two nieces to a movie by myself. The closest I've come to being a mom is being a babysitter, so I thought it would be a walk in the park. As it turns out, a three-hour adventure with two bouncy, sugar-infused, excitable, curly-haired little girls is anything but a walk in the park. More like a walk in the dark of "I don't know what I'm doing!" From wiping noses, to wiping bottoms, to making sure no one ate an entire box of gummy bears while I wasn't looking, to managing to hold two sticky and squirmy little hands while balancing water bottles, backpacks, stuffed animals, and giant bags of popcorn—flying solo with two little baby birds in the nest is no small feat. I walked away from that experience with a renewed respect for moms everywhere, especially single moms.
My sister is not a single mom, and neither was my mom. They've been blessed to have husbands around to help carry the load. Still, after a long day of working, cleaning, cooking, defusing arguments, brushing hair, brushing teeth, bathing, and disciplining, and somehow finding five minutes a day to tend to their own needs, they are often physically and mentally drained. So I can't imagine how much more of a burden single moms must carry around on a daily basis, with the well-being and needs of one or more impressionable, innocent, trusting little people riding squarely on their shoulders.
So to the single moms, I salute you.
You are the silent heroes. You are on the front lines of a long and hard-fought battle to raise strong, intelligent, healthy, moral, productive children. You put your own needs second without even pausing to think about it, and you take the small piece of cake (both literally and figuratively) so your little ones can have the bigger one every time without fail. You don't date anyone who can't handle a package deal because it's no longer just about you—you're thinking and living for two (or more). You face a million different challenges every single day, and you don't back down. You never even waver. You cry, but only when no one else can see. You hold the hardest and least-paid job there will ever be, and you do so without complaining. And when push comes to shove, you become a dad out of love.
You are a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a maid, a cook, a referee, a heroine, a provider, a defender, a protector, a true Superwoman.
Wear your cape proudly.
The Gift of Loneliness
The Single Woman Says:
A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that the next time you feel alone.
I recently conducted an informal poll on Twitter to find out the biggest challenge we singles face, and far and away, loneliness won the day. This hurt my heart. I actually sat in my booth at Starbucks and cried. I suppose it's not really a huge shock that this is a major issue for single people. I mean, the human instinct is to be coupled up—to have someone to come home to, to grow old with, to share things with. And at times it can seem as if the single season of life is going to drag on forever and ever. Trust me; I know this. I've watched person after person after person on my Facebook page post pictures of their little ones going off to the first day of school, taking dance class, hitting home runs. I have some friends who have kids going into high school when I have yet to get started on having a family of my own. So I understand loneliness in its purest form.
And although it sometimes hurts and feels unfair that I'm not experiencing all the things many people my age are experiencing right now, guess what? They're not experiencing what I'm experiencing either. Never forget that the same is true for you. Every time you glance over at your married friends' lives with a flash of envy, believe me, they're glancing over the fence at yours in the same way. The bottom line is this: You're going to face down a little loneliness. It's just the cross that we single folks have to bear. But if you learn to really sit with that loneliness and embrace it as the gift that it is—an opportunity to get to know yourself, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but yourself for your happiness—you will realize that a little loneliness goes a long way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful you.
The thing about our married counterparts is this: they have the husband and the 2.5 kids and the white picket fence, but they don't have what we singles still have—a blank canvas. In a sense, they don't have the chance to color both inside and outside the lines of their lives and boldly embrace not knowing what comes next. In many ways, their lives are decided. Settled. Complete. Predictability is not a bad thing, but neither is the unpredictability of the single journey.
Embrace your singleness, and even the loneliness that comes with it, as the launching pad that it is. It is often in our loneliest times that God speaks the loudest. Plus, there's just something really cool about knowing that your destiny is so big that you're not meant to share it with anyone, at least not yet. So loneliness? Bring it on! In the long run, a big destiny is worth a little loneliness.
Too Fabulous to Settle
The Single Woman Says: single (adjective): too strong, too smart, and too fabulous to settle
When did our relationship status become symbolic of our status in life? When did someone decide it takes "putting a ring on it" to give a woman value and worth? And when did single become synonymous with desperate? It seems that although women have had the right to vote for decades, we still get strange looks when we choose single over settling on the ballots of our own lives.
So, for all my ladies out there who are brave enough to go against the grain and choose what kind of life they're going to lead instead of having it handed to them, this one's for you.
This one's for the girls who believe in love but also believe in themselves. The girls who have looked settling in the eye and walked away. The ones who know their worth better than to accept a life less than the one they deserve. The girls who happen to prefer registering for spin class to registering for china. The ones who know they don't need a ring to sing or a mate to be great. The girls who know that a secure me has to come before a healthy we.
So how can you be sure you're on the right track?
A Self Checkpoint for the Single Woman
* Am I complete in my own life, even if no one ever joins me on my journey?
* Have I built a healthy network of friends and family who love me the way I am, and do I maintain those relationships even when I'm dating someone?
* Am I ignoring my dreams to pursue a relationship, or am I pursuing my dreams and letting love find me?
* Have I learned to love myself, even if I choose to be home alone on a Saturday night?
Once you've made sure you're emotionally strong and secure with who you are, you'll come to realize that late-blooming roses are often the sweetest. You'll realize how much you actually like owning your own schedule, your own weekend, your own independence. You will be brave enough to boldly chart your own path, even if it doesn't include a white picket fence. You'll hope for romance, but with or without it you'll crank up the music and dance. And when you look in the mirror, you'll see a woman who doesn't let go of her joy simply because love hasn't yet arrived.
The next time you check the box "S" for single, remember this: singleness is no longer a lack of options but a choice—a choice to refuse to let your life be defined by your relationship status and to live every day Happily and let your Ever After work itself out. Whether or not you have someone in the passenger seat, you are still the driver of your own life and can take whatever road you choose. So the next time you hit a speed bump, otherwise known as the age-old question, "Why are you still single?" look 'em in the eye and say, "Because I'm too strong, too smart, and too fabulous to settle."
Excerpted from The Single Woman by MANDY HALE. Copyright © 2013 by Amanda Hale. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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