Sometimes I get down about being single.
Maybe not so much the state of being single, but I get down about going on bad dates, the ridiculous amount of time dating requires and the demographics of a small Florida coastal town that make the dating pool even more difficult.
I was feeling particularly unsettled by my prolonged single status with the arrival of my 32nd birthday this week. Over the past few years I’ve watched friends close to me form strong partnerships and take the matrimonial plunge with their significant others. As they start families, I’ve often felt like I’m floating on my own little island where the membership continues to decline. For the most part, I love my single life and I feel genuinely happier than I’ve been in years but holidays, special occasions and weddings often bring that absence to the surface.
As a result I usually try to get ahead of milestones like birthdays by taking the reins and planning something epic to eliminate any chance of feeling sorry for myself. The last few years on my birthday I’ve gone skydiving, hiked to Machu Picchu and thrown a 1920s prohibition-era party to raise money for charity.
This year was no different. I had embarked on planning a dinner party that was the equivalent of a small wedding, transforming the backyard of a friend’s waterfront home into a magical scene out of my Pinterest dreams. The guest list was small so that I could have a personal chef create a four-course gourmet menu. I designed and sent out invitations two months in advance.
And then Hurricane Matthew hit.
The guest list shrank. A vendor canceled. Everyone was emotionally exhausted after a week from hell. And when I saw images of people in Haiti who lost everything I couldn’t justify hosting a decadent affair.
So I canceled and decided to host a fundraiser for Haiti instead, partnering with a local restaurant and brewery. I opened the event up to the community and I got more than I could have ever asked for: an outpouring of donations and friends who came to wish me a Happy Birthday. In the end I was able to raise $850 for the nonprofit REBDUILD Globally.
I got a lot of kudos for this, but really this was my way of turning lemons into lemonade. When I am feeling disappointed about any aspect of my life I find that giving back, feeling useful and helping someone who needs it usually takes my mind off my own problems. And if I’ve learned anything from my travels the last few years it’s that the world is so much bigger than my own little problems.
I think we all have some kind of disappointment or struggle that lurks in the corner no matter how amazing other parts of our life are going. Just like a splinter, it’s small but annoying enough to remind us that it’s always there.
On my 32nd birthday I resolved to make the most out of this era of my life because I’m certain I won’t be here forever. I made a promise to myself that I would embrace the advantages of uninterrupted time, absolutely no compromises and the opportunity to redefine myself however many times I want and really just the freedom to ask myself what I want and do just that.
Inspired by the book Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick, I felt the imperative to write my own spinster manifesto.
It goes like this:
- I will take all the risks and opportunities that come my way because they impact no one but myself.
- I will not compromise for any guy until he shows he’s willing to do the same
- I will not fall prey to the rabbit hole/time suck that is Tinder
- I will take advantage of the alone time I’ve been given by reading, writing, traveling and learning new skills
- I will not go on dates just to feel better about myself.
- I will focus on building my own financial wealth so that I can always remain independent.
- I will use the time I’ve been given to give back to others, help my community and give others a voice who need it.
- I will use holidays as an opportunity to reach out to others who lack families of their own.
- I will make every attempt to form new relationships, expand my social network and connect with old friends.
- I will support my single ladies, my boss ladies, my sisters, my mother and all the women in my life in a way that I can only do as a single woman with no other attachments or obligations.
So here’s to my 32nd year and embracing this time in my life. I can’t wait to see where this year takes me.