This I Believe

Marian - Charlottesville, Virginia
Entered on May 22, 2007

I am single, and I am a worthwhile, complete person.

I didn’t always feel this way. Back in high school, more than anything I wanted a boyfriend. Then when I was 20, a decent man proposed marriage. Assuming that the chance to be safely ensconced as someone’s wife would never come again, I said yes. The marriage ended a decade later.

During my 30s, I suffered great angst about being single again. I had bought into the pervasive myth that as a single individual, I was less valuable as a human being than my married compatriots. I also thought that if only I could find the right man to be the other half of my couple, my life would be ideal, my troubles vanquished.

Wanting a change, I moved to Alaska, where I made a group of wonderful friends who fulfilled my need for human connection. They helped me adjust to being on my own.

When I did enter into a romantic relationship, I experienced an epiphany of sorts. My partner did not magically transform my life. His presence in my life didn’t fix my boring, low-paid job nor ease my inner dissatisfactions. I had known this intellectually, of course; but knowing and truly believing are two very different things.

In my 40s, I moved to Virginia, where I made a new group of treasured friends. By this time, being single felt right. I was no longer seeking marriage as a form of validation or as a way to solve my problems.

On the contrary, being single has forced me to grow and become self-sufficient, both emotionally and in practical terms. I have tackled challenges I would have otherwise avoided. When I couldn’t manage the bulky ladder I needed to put up to clean the gutters of my house, I lifted weights until I developed the strength to do it myself. When my beloved cat developed diabetes, I overcame my needle phobia to give her insulin shots. When I couldn’t find anyone to vacation in Mexico with, I went alone, had a great time, and met other single travelers I never would have met while traveling in the insulated cocoon of a couple.

Being single does not mean living without love. I have lots of loves: my father, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, former in-laws, pets. And I am blessed with amazing friends, our bonds stronger and more vital in part because I am single.

My single life is textured with richness and meaning. I believe in the value of the one.