Last year, sometime in July, you wrote about being single. You posted about being single in this quiet way, about that, “no, never” answer. And I remember reading it and wondering how you found peace with being single. Because I’m sitting here, in the middle of all these weddings and engagements and invitations and plans, gifts and registries. People my age are putting on white dresses that belong to them, not their mothers, and walking down a real aisle, not just the narrow hallway between their kitchen and their living room. It’s not dress-up anymore, Hilary – it’s happening. But it’s not happening to me. And I look at it all, and I’m jealous and insecure and I don’t know how to resist the comparisons – like what if that never happens to me. Can you help?
I don’t want to be harsh with you, sweet pea – let me say that first and foremost. In the land of wild love, I don’t want to offer harsh, bitter, it’s-hard-so-suck-it-up advice. I want you to hear me when I tell you (and whoever happens to click through the links that lead them to this post): it is okay to sit down for a while in the middle of the road and feel what you feel. To stop in your week and say out loud as you drive home that YOU ARE NOT OKAY WITH ALL OF THIS, AND IT REALLY SUCKS, AND JUST IN CASE THE WORLD NEEDED TO KNOW, YOU DO NOT LIKE IT.
Those feelings pestering you now will grow fiercer if you stifle them. You don’t need to pretend that you’ve never been anything but overjoyed that you are single for all these years, and you really want nothing more than to click through gift registries and buy newlyweds sets of Ralph Lauren sheets and matching His n’ Hers toothbrush holders (people do register for funny things sometimes – all those strangely shaped salt and pepper shakers, for one). You don’t have to pretend to yourself that only one type of feeling is permissible. In the land of wild love, we feel what we feel. Always. It may be selfish, it may be silly, it may be blown out of proportion, but it is alive and real and denying it will not help.
But in the same breath that you push your sunglasses up on your head and stamp your feet and spread your hands out in exasperation? You must laugh with yourself. This, like so many other feelings of frustration and anxiety? They can be calmed by a bit of laughter. Look at it this way: you, beautiful, complicated, intense, melodramatic, creative… you are stamping your feet at the world while all it asks you to do is trust. That is difficult work, trust. But it is even more work to worry, more work to be jealous, more work to look through all those albums with a rising tide of insecurity in your stomach.
So sweet pea, feel what you feel. Then take those feelings and hold them in your hands. Aren’t they just a little bit lighter than you thought? Hold all that is difficult and frustrating about being single in the facebook wedding flood up against the light of your young and wild life.
There is no trick to being at peace with being single. None at all. I didn’t take a magic potion when I wrote that blog post, and if you read more posts tagged, “dating” over there, you can tell that 99% of the time, I am stamping my feet about this very thing. Actually, I think I stamped my feet about it yesterday… But love, it isn’t a question of finding the magic fix. It’s a question of your willingness to laugh with yourself. It’s a question of not letting all of this weigh too much. It’s a question of buying those strangely shaped salt and pepper shakers and resisting the urge to click through facebook albums…
There is a facebook wedding flood in all of our lives – a flood of people having what we think we deserve, what we want for ourselves. When the flood hits, put on your galoshes and your rainhat, and laugh.