“You radiate this internal happiness and joy for life… Where do you think your happiness comes from?” I never met the person who asked me that question, but she had watched my TEDx talk, “What no one ever told you about people who are single,” and that was one of her questions.
The person who asked that question is the wonderful Shani Silver, who writes the series “Every Single Day,” about single life, for Refinery29. She was interviewing me for her podcast, “A Single Serving.” (The interview will air in January 2020.)
I loved that question, because it made me realize that, contrary to all stereotypes and expectations of what lifelong singlehood is supposed to be like, I am happy because I am single. I don’t mean that I’m happy all the time or that I never get sad or mad or hurt or frustrated or even infuriated. I do. Overall, though, I think I’m a happy person and a very big part of that is because I am single.
I think of myself as “single at heart.” I live my best, most authentic, fulfilling, and meaningful life by being single. Living single, for me, is not a default option or a Plan B. It is my first choice and an enthusiastic one.
I also realize how lucky I am. There are places where people (women especially) cannot easily, if at all, live full and complete and joyful lives if they stay single. In the U.S., not that many decades ago, many women had a hard time getting by financially without a husband. They were dependent on marriage for economic survival.
Poor women in the U.S. today are still getting lectured by certain policymakers and pundits that they should marry in order to escape poverty. Even if that were a reasonable solution, it is not a fair suggestion. No one should have to marry in order to live a dignified life.
Of course, there is still plenty of stereotyping and stigmatizing of single people, and discrimination against them – what I call singlism. But at the time and place where I live, it does not make it impossible to live a good single life.
If I felt like I had to marry in order to survive economically, or if other circumstances of single life were so challenging that I felt like I had no choice other than to marry, then maybe I would do so. But I would be miserable. I’d be looking for articles on the internet on how to be happy when you are married.
I think that means I’m not a naturally happy person. I’m mostly happy for a lot of reasons; one of the most important is that I get to live the life that suits me best, my single life. I don’t take that for granted. I’m grateful for it every single day.