A Blog From The Shelf…

Single girl, 24; geeky, funny, creative, spontaneous WLTM a nice, normal christian man to laugh through life with, who is into music and films, likes children and being active, for cinema trips, walks along the beach, couples gym trips and general husbandy type activities….

When I first started blogging there were always a few topics I swore to myself I would steer well clear of. Not because I didn’t have lots to say about them, but because I didn’t really feel my two cents would add much to the myriad of other voices discussing them and I wanted to leave it to other much wiser thinkers. Feminism was one of the topics i swore myself against and the feminism blog I wrote last January was my most viewed post ever. Lo and behold what have I found myself challenged on, thinking over and inspired to write about?! Yet another one of the banned topics. This one however, so much more than the feminism blog or a lot of the other stuff I’ve written about, feels a little bit more personal, a little bit more scary and if I’m honest a little bit too close for comfort. But I can’t get the nagging feeling to write out of my mind and I know that often when I am writing outside of my comfort zone, that is when other people identify with my words.

So (and with a good deal of fear and trepidation) I begin by telling you that I’m writing about being single. I wonder if any of you gasped or shuddered as you read that word. Yes THAT word, the other S word. The word that people in relationships look back on, thanking God, the universe and most importantly their partner that they’re no longer identified by that word. A word that thousands, either begrudgingly or proudly, identify themselves as. A word that, if we are not too careful, becomes a label to describe people, a label synonymous with: unlovable, unchoosable, lonely, unattractive and “there’s something wrong with them”.

I am single and I have been for 6 years. Six years since my last relationship, six years since I last went on a date, six years of life on the shelf. Now, and this is where I get a bit uncomfortable and want to put a caveat in this blog, I know I am only 24, I know I am young, I know there is plenty of time yet, plenty more fish in the sea and plenty more things to do in life than get married; I know all of that and have had it said to me many a time, I refer you to the six years of singleness! And I know, personally, that there are so many more people out there who are just as single as me and have been for way longer, people for whom the label “single” is a badge of shame and source of pain; in writing this blog I am not trying to trump anyone or make light of a situation that shouldn’t be, I’m just thinking out loud and exploring how I feel about my label.

Growing up in the evangelical church, being single and unmarried in your 20s (or 30s or 40s) is not one of the things you aspire to. The church seems to be geared towards families, couples and matchmaking. Each year as more and more friends find love and tie the knot, the congratulations and acceptance cards are tinged with just that little bit more sadness each time. Please don’t get me wrong, I am ridiculously happy for my friends who are no longer single and my congratulations are genuine, but the sadness for my situation is also just as genuine and demands to be felt and addressed.

But there isn’t an easy answer, and definitely not one that is going to be found from a few glib words scribbled down out of my fluffy little head, singleness is a thing that exists and for some it’s ok and for some it is a horrible, painful thing. Singleness is not a “problem” to be “solved” though, but rather the attitudes towards being single could maybe do with a shake up. This is what I’ve been thinking about and what I really want to write about, rather than “Lex’s top 10 fail safe ways to not be single any more and plan a nice spring wedding”, cos hey let’s face it if I had that I wouldn’t be at home theorising about singleness, I’d be out choosing china patterns!

As a child (and to be honest, even more so now) I was a big fan of Disney. There is nothing better in my opinion than a beautiful love story, set to some rousing musical numbers, where a woman with perfect hair, with the help of some woodland critters, falls in love with a man she’s known for all of five minutes in the middle of a picturesque forest. But aside from a bit of escapism, the stories Disney tell can also give people, especially girls, unrealistic aspirations when it comes to love. I spent my time in the forest, making friends with squirrels, brushing my hair and I’m still not married! What’s the deal Disney?!

But in the last six months Disney have released a couple of films that seek to alter the “Disney norm” and question what people believe about “true love”. In December, Disney released Frozen which tells the story of two sisters, a good bit of magic, a snowman, two male love interests (one who is a massive tool), some troll/rocks and a reindeer (oh and the “Hoo Hoo” guy!). Not to give any spoilers (but seriously, have you been living under a rock?), in Frozen Anna gets frozen solid and only an “act of true love” will melt her heart. Her sister Elsa, not the man who she thought loved her or the man who actually did love her, produces the act of true love which in the end saves Anna’s life. And just this week the film Malificent was released, an incredible retelling of the old favourite Sleeping Beauty. (SPOILERS) Again, in this film we see a young man meet and “fall in love” with the beautiful Aurora but when it comes to waking her from her sleep his kiss is not enough. What wakes her is the true love’s kiss from Malificent her, for all intents and purposes, Godmother.

Disney is starting to change and challenge their own norm. Yeah, fair enough love at first sight might happen and true love between a man and woman (or man and man/ woman and woman) does exist, but it is not the be all and end all and more often than not the people we experience true love with will be a sister, a child, a mother, a friend; and who’s to say that that love is not strong enough to melt a frozen heart or wake a sleeping beauty?

In an episode of Bones I was watching the other day someone was defending the fact that they fell in and out of love quickly, she explained that each of the four or five men she’d been involved with had been the “love of her life”. I liked the idea and decided to expand it a little, and with this thought let me sum up this mammoth blog.

I am single, sometimes I delight in the freedom, often I despise the loneliness, but just because I am single that doesn’t mean there are no current “loves of my life” or that “true love” is completely absent. This week as I sat and watched Malificent with a good friend, I knew there was love in my life. As I cooked for and shared a meal with friends and family, I knew there was love in my life. As I held my sleeping nephew, I knew there was love in my life.

I’m not saying that friends and family make the singleness all better, the wonderful people I share my life with don’t, unfortunately, negate the fact that I’m not married. But what I’m saying is that while the label “single” can and does mean all sorts of things, it most certainly doesn’t mean “lonely” and “loveless”. Single people are capable of having “loves of their life” and acts of “true love”, even if they stay single for ever. So please (please!) don’t assume that everyone hates being single and that it means someone’s life is without love, but please (please, please, please!) be sympathetic, understanding and tactful and don’t just tell us there are other fish in the sea… We don’t want flipping fish!

And for those people who find themselves single, I pray to the love of my life that we would be comforted in the loneliness, we would know love in all of its varied and beautiful forms and that he would finish writing our love stories soon and we can finally take the label off and come down from the shelf… (That’s the deal right, big man?!)

Lex xx

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