As more and more people are staying single for more years of their life – or for their entire life – something quite wonderful is happening. Single people are writing compelling, insightful, and unapologetic essays about their single lives.
I have a special place in my heart for people who embrace their single life and are not afraid to say so, even if everyone all around them thinks they are weird. Hats off to Stanford student Axelle Marcantetti who offered this brilliant observation after getting interrogated about her single status at a party:
“What if I’m single because I choose to be? Not by default or because I’m still recovering from a bad breakup or prioritizing academics (though these are all very valid reasons) but because I just prefer to be? There are so many reasons I could give to explain why I’m single and am not looking for anyone or anything without being dead-set against relationships or hookups in general. But the thing is, I shouldn’t have to list them. I shouldn’t have to justify my personal life being the way it is – if hookups, relationships, one-night stands, ambiguous somethings are accepted without a second thought, why is my single status prodded, questioned and doubted?”
It is delightful to see such wisdom in someone so young and so surrounded by conventional thinking (in a place that should be on the vanguard of unconventional ideas).
As the readers of this blog already know, there’s a name for people who love living single, and it is the same as the name of this blog: single at heart.
My next example of a beautifully written essay comes from someone who started out really, really wanting to be coupled. Christina Patterson describes that yearning, shares some of her dating horror stories, then, with the help of her therapist, makes a turn toward a fulfilling single life:
“I don’t think,” said the shrink one day, “that you actually want to meet someone.” I was shocked. I was really shocked. What do you mean, I don’t want to meet someone? What about all the dating? The bloody awful dating? What about all that sheer, exhausting, humiliating effort? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised he was probably right. The fact is that I often ran away because I was bored. When I’m on my own, I’m never, ever bored.
Three years before, on a slightly mad whim, I had made an offer on a tiny flat on a Tuscan hillside I hadn’t even seen…
Now I never need to worry about what I’m going to do on holiday. I have another life. I go to Italy to read, look out at a sun-drenched hillside and dream. I go to sip vermentino in the local bar, and eat pasta with sweet, ripe tomatoes, flecked with fresh basil. I go to Italy to write. In Italy, in fact, I started planning and writing the book I have coming out now, The Art of Not Falling Apart. It’s about how we cope when life goes wrong.
There’s so much to love in this excerpt from the essay. First, the therapist. How amazing is it to find someone who doesn’t just assume that everyone wants to be coupled and everyone is better off coupled? Good for him. (I know, it should be routine for therapists to realize that, just as it should be routine for Stanford students, but it is not in either case.)
Second, the author, Christina Patterson. She’s come all the way from feeling shame about being single to living an inspiring single life, complete with her vacation home in Tuscany and a new book hot off the presses!
Thank-you, Axelle Marcantetti and Christina Patterson.