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Have you been single longer than expected? Me too.
I think about that sweet little naive 20 year old girl who thought she’d be married by 22. Were you one of those too? Precious, isn’t it? Sometimes I think, “If only I could have told her our plans were about to change.”
But actually, I’m glad that I couldn’t have told her what was coming, because I’m not sure that she could have handled it. I’m picturing a level-ten hissy fit and a full blown toddler-style meltdown.
Fast forward ten years and it would have been next to impossible for me to convince that girl that at 30, we are single and THRIVING.
That girl didn’t know there was any life beyond a relationship, and she certainly didn’t know it was possible to thrive as a single girl. Those two words wouldn’t have even made sense in the same sentence. (not to mention my disbelief that we turned 30)
Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always been feeling like I’m thriving on this journey.
Some days I’ve definitely had that toddler meltdown. Singleness has its challenges. But I’m sure I don’t need you to tell you that. You’ve been there. The days you just want a second income (I know it makes us sound like gold diggers, but seriously, tell me this isn’t on your mind every time you look at your bank account), the Friday nights you spend alone, the days you scroll through social media seeing engagement ring after engagement ring.
I know you get it.
It’s tough. Especially when life just hasn’t panned out the way that you pictured.
(you can read more about how my life hasn’t panned out the way I planned by reading Finding yourself when supposed to happen, didn’t happen )
And it makes you feel stuck, and trapped. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, you thought you’d have this person to do all of these things with, to help make decisions, and to be your best friend. And then he isn’t there.
I want nothing more than to live the life I always wanted. And to thrive no matter my circumstances. And I desperately want that for you too. You deserve it. We deserve it. Singleness shouldn’t be a show-stopper that keeps us from loving our life. So what’s a girl to do?
Well, from one single-longer-than-expected girl to another, here are ten tips that I’ve learned in my years of singleness that can take you from just surviving, to thriving as a single lady.
They take creativity, persistence, and the occasional self kick-in-the-pants, but if practiced, I promise you’ll find your “barely-getting-by” turning into “absolutely-loving-life.”
So here goes:
1. Find what energizes you, and pursue it passionately
One of the greatest challenges I’ve found in my singleness, is to find what I’m passionate about, other than getting married. I played sports when I was younger, and was involved in different clubs and groups, but I can’t say that any of them were the reason I got out of bed in the morning.
As a single lady, or I would argue just as a person in general, you need something that energizes you. That ignites a fire inside of you.
It isn’t always easy to find, and it can definitely change over the years. For me right now it’s this blog. But in the past, it’s been making goals like running a marathon, or going to pole dancing class. Yes, for many years the thing I was most excited about was throwing on my heels and going to pole (it was for fitness, people, calm down).
If you’re not sure what energizes you, that’s ok. I’d encourage you to just try something new. You might be surprised what you find that you love.
Because the truth is, that even if you do get married, you’ll need something other than your husband to be passionate about. So I’d encourage you to get out there and explore until you find it, and then pursue the heck out of it. Channel your “I want to get married energy” into a new love.
2. Get creative with executing what you want to do
This one has been tough for me to learn. I have all these dreams, places I want to go, and things I want to do, and sometimes I think “This would be so much easier with a husband”. I’d have a built-in buddy. And let’s be honest, the older we get, the harder it is for your friends to always be around.
So what do you do? Just not do all the things you wanted to?
Absolutely not. Do not do that. Instead, get creative.
For example, a few years ago I wanted to go to Iceland. But none of my closest friends could go. And I wasn’t quite to the point yet where I was comfortable traveling on my own. But I was in a Bible study at the time, and just put the idea out there. Next thing I know, four of us are on a plane to Iceland. They weren’t all my closest friends, a few of us barely knew one another, but it made my dream happen. And I wouldn’t trade that trip for the world.
It’s wasn’t the way I pictured it, but I made sure my singleness didn’t stop me. And created some pretty sweet memories along the way.
Singleness doesn’t have to stop you. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity.
3. Diversify your friend groups (or acquaintance groups)
As with number 2, sometimes your closest friends just aren’t always around as you get older. Or maybe a lot of your friends have moved away, and you’re struggling to make new friends at all (it’s so hard as an adult, do not feel like it’s just you.)
One of the best ways I’ve found to combat this trend is to diversify my friend groups. I’ve started to explore other hobbies, and stretch myself to meet new people. Instead of just spending time with my usual crowd, I’ve started spending time with my recreational volleyball team, going to more happy hours with co-workers, and joining a running club. Not all of the people in those groups have become my closest friends, but they allow me to have more options for who to hang out with.
This has helped me combat loneliness, and be more social even when my core group of friends isn’t around.
4. Find the little things that make you happy, and do them often
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference.
Nothing makes me happier than breakfast, lattes, coming home to fresh flowers, and binge-watching Netflix. They’re little pieces of life that make me smile.
So what did I do? I started taking myself out to breakfast, bought an espresso machine so I can make fancy-schmancy lattes at home, started buying myself flowers, and setting aside time to watch my favorite shows.
I suddenly found myself energized and looking forward to those little things, even when I was alone. They can make a shocking difference.
So I’d encourage you to find those small things that make you happy, and treat yourself to them as often as you can.
5. Do something you never thought you could do alone
I used to prevent myself from doing anything because I didn’t think it counted as much if I did it alone. As if not having someone else there meant that it wasn’t worth doing.
But what I’ve found is that there’s empowerment in doing things by yourself. There’s a pride and a self-confidence that you gain by being able to do something on your own.
Whether it’s traveling, going to a concert, or just taking yourself out to dinner, not letting your solo status stop you will give you a whole new lease and outlook on your single life.
(for more encouragement on doing more by yourself, check out “Three encouraging lessons I’ve learned from doing more by myself” )
6. Never say “I’ll do that when I’m married”
One of the biggest mistakes that I made as a single girl in my early twenties was putting things off until I was married. I think the reason that was a mistake is pretty obvious now. I didn’t get married when I thought I would, so waiting for a husband to do things with meant putting things off for an undetermined amount of time.
I can’t stress to you enough how important it is to not wait. We don’t know what God’s plan is here. How long we’ll be waiting. Or if the person we marry will even want to do all of the things that we do.
So don’t wait. If you want to do it, do it. If you’re not sure how, go back to number 2 and see if there’s a way to get creative. But don’t wait. Life is happening right now. Don’t let yourself miss it.
7. Entertain an opportunity that seems “too crazy”
…says the girl who is writing this as she’s living in Panama.
I never thought I’d be thirty years old and living in another country. That sounds crazy to me. But it’s been the best thing that could have ever happened. And probably part of the reason that it’s happened, is because I’m single.
Singleness gives you the opportunity to only have to consider yourself when making decisions. So if a “crazy” opportunity comes up, there’s very little to stop you from taking it. Married people aren’t always afforded that opportunity, and it’s one of the biggest benefits of being single.
So don’t waste it. Take those crazy opportunities. Go places you never thought you’d be. Do things you never dreamed you could. Because you can. And I’m convinced you will not regret it.
8. Find other single women to be inspired by
I think one of the hardest things about my single status in my early twenties was that I’d never seen a woman be single and thriving past age 23. Everyone in my family got married early. I didn’t have a model to follow of someone who had done it. And without seeing someone who had done it, all I had to go off of was what it looked like in my mind. And let me tell you, long story short, in my mind, it was not good.
There are some badass independent women out there getting every ounce of goodness out of life as single women. And I’d encourage you that if you don’t know one, find one to follow on social media. There’s a whole tribe of us out there. You are most certainly not alone. And we want you to be inspired by what your life can be.
9. On your worst “woe is me” days, find a way to shift your focus to others
Let me be honest for a minute. This one is probably the most difficult. When we are in the throws of frustration with our singleness, the last thing we want to do is invest in someone else.
This is especially true around the holidays. It’s so easy to focus on what you don’t have, and fall apart inside. But this is where that “kick in the pants” that I talked about earlier comes in.
If you can pull yourself up, even when you don’t feel like it, and channel all of that self-pity into positive energy to lift someone else up, you’ll find yourself lifted up as well.
A practical example is from my 25th birthday. My birthday just so happens to fall two days before Christmas, so it’s easy for me to get a double whammy of single-girl self-pity. So what did I do? I made a list of 25 things I could do for other people during my birthday month. And let me tell you, it changed everything for me about turning 25 and still being single.
So take that negative energy, and channel it for the good, even when you don’t feel like it. I promise, it will make all the difference.
10. Be a champion for the girl tribe
As a girl who has historically always had mostly guy friends, the last several years have been a serious lesson in why women need other women.
As you get older, it gets harder and harder to have close guy friends without it becoming more, or without one of you wanting it to be more and the other one thinking you’re just friends (awkward).
I’ve had to make a concerted effort to be a champion for the girl tribe. To find female friendships, and learn to harness the power of women getting together.
If like me you don’t have a lot of female friends, or don’t know how to meet them, be the person who brings them together. Throw a girls night for the ladies at church, even if you don’t know them. Invite a co-worker you’ve rarely spoken to out to lunch. Leave positive comments on women’s social media.
They don’t have to be your closest friends. But women need women. They will be your lifeline for someone who understands you.
(For great girls night ideas, checkout my Girl Nights Ideas Pinterest board)
So there it is. The ten tips I would give any single girl who has found herself single longer than she expected.
What did you think? I know. It sounds like a lot. Sometimes a lot of things you don’t want to do.
But take it in stages. Take it one at a time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. That’s for darn sure.
Your life is so much more than a marriage. And it’s meant to be so much more than a focus on your singleness.
I know you can thrive in this circumstance. You can do more than you ever thought you could. I certainly have. And I swear to you, if I can, so can you.
So please. Go forth. Thrive my sweet friend, don’t just survive. You’re meant for so much more.
Me and the entire single-girl-tribe (we’ve got your back!)