My feeds are flooded with highlight reels, page after page. Lives seem glorious: over-the-top proposals, idyllic wedding days, sweet moments with spouses, a mom hash-tagging gratitude for the way a tiny head fits on her shoulder.
It’s hard, this quiet honesty that wells up in my single heart: I want that. Why not now? Why not me?
I feel disconnected from my chronology. I’ve not been inducted into that mysterious sisterhood of wives and mothers. It is the province of many of my peers. Others of us are left picking up subtle implications: there are things we can’t possibly understand.
Some married folks tell of perfect worlds. They swear life didn’t start til they said, “I do” or held their first child. Others imagine me sleeping in, bingeing on Netflix and ice cream. They bemoan lost freedom and complain, tell me I’m much better off single. For all their tales of the hard work of marriage, “better off single” feels like a lie.
The truth is this: trading the expectation of settledness for singleness hurts. It just does.
I know the stab when another marriage or pregnancy is announced, and the guilt that follows. Why can’t I be totally happy for them? I know the disappointment of hoping that every bend in the road will bring somebody, only to realize it’s more of the same.
I’m not naïve, dreaming a wedding fixes everything. Instead, I dream of building a refuge, of loyalty and believing the best even when I see the worst. My heart longs to be someone’s biggest fan, safe place, and partner in crime, to take the world together on good days and bad.
Deep, unfulfilled longing is always painful. Whether we wait for marriage, a child, or any other desire, waiting hurts.
But pain is not the only truth.
The other is this: I am a whole person. I’m not waiting for completion. I have dreams beyond sharing my life and raising beautiful babies. A sense of calling keeps me up at night, makes me forget to eat. I have precious relationships even if they don’t share my bed or live under my roof.
I want to be a woman of character and kindness, all-in with passion and joy, taking the bitter with the sweet.
A voice of hope and healing to those around me.
A guide making the way easier, leveraging strengths and experiences in the service of others.
A taster of beauty, savoring rich coffee and sunlight and cool mountain breezes.
None of those things require me to be married.
Certainly, the best of life is better shared. Mountain hikes and fragrant coffee and big dreams gain depth and color in good company, especially the kind that commits to forever and loving through darkest days. But I refuse to miss their sweetness by obsessing how much better it could be.
Today, I can be a safe place for loved ones and for those I serve. I can fight in prayer, send a text that says I remember someone’s grief and I’m on her side. I can breathe deep and literally count blessings, savoring the chance to be alive. Today, I can turn my heart inside out on this screen, knowing someone needs to hear.
Sweet friend, if that’s you, you are not alone. I know it hurts and you may not believe, but you’re not less for your singleness. You aren’t forgotten. Your beautiful heart may be discouraged and doubt there’s a happy ending. I get it. I really do.
But today, give yourself permission to have a happy middle. Be kind to yourself. Savor something that makes you smile. Go on a hike or out to dinner and enjoy it all on your own. It’s okay.
Write down those dreams of who you want to be. Find one tiny step that will take you closer to being that woman. Look at your life today, find something that you love about it. If you look long enough, I promise it’s there.
This life is ours, dear friend. Let’s not wish it away season-by-season. After all, if that habit starts now, how will it stop when we see this dream fulfilled, only to long for the next thing and the next? Whether or not circumstances conspire to give us happy endings anytime soon, we can live today in the happy middle.