There seems to have been a lot of discussions on these words in the past few months. Studies, books & articles on “social media’s effect on loneliness…” There’s a lot of it out there…sometimes it’s in here…but loneliness, single and alone are not all the same thing. They are completely different states. Just because I’m single, doesn’t mean I’m alone. Just because I’m alone, doesn’t mean I’m lonely.
A strange shift happens at 40 when you’re single. I’ve become acutely aware of aging. My own mortality. The echo of a childfree life. The pitying glances from others. The constant conversation about being alone (“yes…yes thank you, i know…no, it’s still just me”). The burden of knowing I’ll be the solitary person providing for my parents and their spouses in the years to come. A surrender and a railing against all that being alone implies.
Then I look at a number of the relationships that surround me. The husbands and wives. The cohabitating couples. The parents. The truth is, I wouldn’t want the lives that many of them have. There is a weighty misery that exists in a number of them. Not all, of course. Some are really and truly happy with each other and their choices. But a lot have settled. They’ve settled for what I can only assume is what they figured may be the only thing to come along….or better than nothing….or the best that they could do.
That terrifies me. Way more than being alone. Settling for dissatisfaction. I’ve got to really fucking love you to want to cook for you every day, clean up after you, share the duvet with you. It’s a love that I choose to believe awaits me. With or without children…I don’t know. It struck me a few years back that if I wanted to have a child, wouldn’t I just have one by now? What I’ve desired is a partnership, a foundation, a place to belong…but really, all in the pursuit of happiness and satisfaction. And maybe that is what I have today. Maybe that’s what being on my own and having the freedom I do IS. Happiness & satisfaction.
For example, last night I decided I’m going to Costa Rica next week. And so it shall be. I don’t need to ask anyone. I don’t need to sort out any big huge details for my kids. I can just go.
So, Happy New Year from this single and gloriously happy & satisfied woman. May you welcome and demand greatness in the year to come. May you not settle, yet find delicious satisfaction in all that you encounter. May you be brave. May you be beautiful. May you love all that you have….and fight for something greater.
Happiness and satisfaction. In this moment, it is mine. It is achieved. It’ll change, to be sure. It’ll change shape and smell and style…but I’ve got it.