“One for How to Be Single, please.” Oh, how fitting – I thought to myself, as I passed my credit card through the window. I don’t mind being single, 98% of the time. I actually enjoy it, most days. But there are some moments in your life where you have stop – and laugh – because you are oh-so-very single.
I went to this movie not for life advice – I actually know very well how to be single, thanks – but more because it was a $6 showing, it was an excuse to hang with some friends, and Rebel Wilson is hilarious. And yet I was pleasantly surprised. When I was expecting a get-drunk-as-possible, sleep-with-everyone-in-sight, party-it-UP single mantra, the movie offered so much more. Sure, there’s the casual hookups and the glorified hangovers, the drunken make outs with strangers and other life style choices I’m not really into. But there was also, surprisingly, a lot of inner reflection encouraged. Do you know how to be alone? Do you even know yourself? Is the fear of losing control keeping you from a relationship? Is the fear of a different way of life keeping you from moving forward? Are you too hung up on relationships? Are you too hung up on singleness? Seriously, this movie gets pretty deep for a comedy.
I also went into this movie thinking I would come out with my counter claims of “how to be single” – I foresaw Hollywood giving a step-by-step guide throughout the movie, one that I would clearly disagree with and need to correct. I don’t know why I was expecting a two hour Buzzfeed list, but what I got was a compelling story. Instead of telling me how to be single, the movie simply portrays different variations of singlehood for someone in my generation. Sure, with a Hollywood spin and all, but still. And I appreciated it. Some people hate it – and find themselves desperately seeking a relationship. Some people are in denial over it – convincing themselves they’re fine with a life they never expected. Some people run from it – constantly turning to a warm body (anyone’s warm body) to get through the night. Some people thrive in it.
I came home and wondered, so how do you be single? What’s my list? What’s my guide? What’re my snazzy 4 points (that hopefully all start with the same letter)? I was stumped. Sure, there’s practical advice I’ve given out plenty of times. Stop listening to dumb people who say dumb things. Know your triggers, know when you’re spiraling, reach out for help when you need it. Don’t Facebook stalk your ex (it never ends well). Fight for community and connection – in a multitude of ways – at all costs. But that’s all life advice. It’s not how to be single… it’s just how to be. “How to be single?” is like asking me how to be human. How to breathe. How to wake up and go to work every day. It’s just something you do.
Later, I was chatting with some friends, and someone mentioned how the church should be teaching people how to be single. More specifically, we should be teaching our high school students how to be single. And I disagree. Yes, we should be teaching that it’s okay to not be in a relationship. We should be reminding them they are whole, worthy humans – regardless of their relationship status. We should be encouraging another worldview, opposed to our relationship-obsessed world (and, at times, Church).
But should we be teaching them how to be single? I don’t think so – we need to be teaching them how to be healthy people. When you’re focused on being a healthy person, you’re being single well. Or you’re being in a relationship well. Because you’re living life well. Healthy people aren’t defined by their relationship status (single, dating, or married). Healthy people aren’t defined by their social media accounts. Healthy people aren’t defined by their pant size or social calendar or zip code or bank account – because they are whole independent of other people and things. Focussing too much on singleness is just as bad as focussing too much on romantic relationships, in my book. It’s still wrapping too much value around a relationship status, around something that should not dictate our worth. I’m over it.
I guess “how to be single” comes in handy for that friend that just came out of a 5 year relationship, and doesn’t know which way is up. For that person – we all know one – who can’t seem to stay single for longer than a week. Maybe some people do need a guide, a book, an explanation of some sort on this way of life that seems foreign and unknown. But I don’t know if I can be the one to write it. It would be a lot of “well…. live your life” or “just get on with your day” or “step 5: put one foot in front of the other”.
Is this weird, coming from the girl who is known for her thoughts on singleness? (What a strange thing to be known for…) I love attacking lies about singleness. I love pointing out where we’ve handled singleness wrong, where we’ve made poor assumptions or hurtful remarks. But I’m not one to tell you how to go about it. Because I’m not one to tell you how to live your life. Who says I know the right why? Who says I have it all figured out? I’ll gladly share my journey, share the places I’ve messed up, the lessons I’ve learned. But I am in no way qualified to make you a guidebook.
How do I be single? I live my life. I pursue healthy, life giving relationships with safe people – of both genders. I read a lot, because I like to learn. I write a lot, because it’s equally relaxing and risky for me. I invest my time in self awareness, in world change, in the next generation. I follow my passions – which sometimes lead to surprising places – as I seek to follow His nudges in my life. I have about 50 million different interests and 50 million random thoughts throughout the day and 50 million things I want to accomplish. And I honestly hope none of that changes, ever, with a ring on my finger one day.
We should be reminded, from time to time, that there’s more to life than romantic relationships. We shouldn’t be solely focussed on if we are a wife or husband, if we have a girlfriend or boyfriend, if we’re actively pursuing that cute new person. Instead we should be focussed on growing, healing, maturing. Teaching, learning, sharing. Living. We should be focussed on how we get to play a part in bringing God’s kingdom to earth. We should be focussed on how to be a better person, how to take care of ourselves better, how to make the world a better place – single or taken, “how” to do so looks pretty similar.