Going it alone. What does it really mean? As singles, we get used to doing things alone. And there is a bit of an unspoken rule to not talk about the pain of being single, because “it’s a gift.” Or, we feel shame for not “being content in all circumstances.”
But in reality, there are a lot of things that are hard doing alone. Not that a spouse would solve all these problems. But carrying each other’s burden only goes so far in the busy world we live in. Asking for help repeatedly starts to humble you.
Here are 5 ways I’ve struggled in processing the reality of being single.
1. It means that when things hit the fan, I am the only one there to clean it up.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate those who support and help me. It’s never easy for anybody when life has bumps, but half the battle is having someone to walk through the fire alongside us. At the end of the day, I’m walking through the flames on my own.
2. When I get sick, I still have to get up and take care of things, because if I don’t nobody else will.
When I worked as a contract employee and I missed work for illness, I didn’t get paid. Being sick meant a hit on my income. I can’t avoid taking care of my dog, my house or my responsibilities when I’m sick because there’s nobody else there to pick up the slack. If I were a single parent and sick, I would still have to tend to my kids.
Years ago when I had to take two months off work for a major surgery, life had to come to a halt … except for one minor detail: Bills still needed to be paid. My recovery was only possible because I had family and friends to help. But I felt like a burden on them. I don’t expect them to carry me when life is rough. They also may not always be able to help me. For single folks who don’t have this kind of supportive network, what happens?
When I dealt with bouts of depression over the years and couldn’t get out of bed — nobody was there to push me on. Nobody probably even really noticed.
When I got in a wreck and suffered a minor concussion (forgetting what day it was), nobody was by my side to remind me that I hadn’t been to work in two days — or to notice that something was wrong.
3. When I buy a house/car, it’s all on me.
When things break, I have to figure out how to fix them (Fact: I am not good at fixing sheetrock — just ask the hole in my wall/ceiling).
When my car dies, I have to fend for myself, and it seems that mechanics just love when a single female walks in with a broken car. I can rely again on friends to help, but in the end, I have to figure out how to pay for it or find other transportation.
4. I have had to let go of opportunities like grad school, travel/missions, dream jobs, etc., because they haven’t been practical.
I would love to spend time in the mission field or go to grad school at some point. I recently left a job I loved for a less appealing salaried job with benefits. It was one of the hardest choices I’ve had to make, and I continue to wonder if it was the correct decision. For me, being single has meant letting go of my dreams more times than I’d like to admit.
5. Just as I’ve had nobody to share the burden of the hard times with me, I’ve had nobody with whom to share the joy of accomplishments either.
This is not to say I haven’t pursued some awesome things or that I’m not grateful for the opportunities I have had. I’ve run more endurance races than I can count. I ran a marathon in the desert. I conquered a 70.3 Half-Ironman. I have jumped out of an airplane. I studied abroad. I bought a house. Being single has given me a ton of great opportunities, for sure, but there is a trade-off. I had time to train for long races. After hours of working and training, I came home and went to bed alone.
I guess the key to surviving this whole being single situation is to surround myself with a positive community of people dealing with the same type of battles as me.
Other friends who are facing the world alone are there to support each other, and that’s essential. We were designed to live in community as one Body, and how better to do that than by being the hands and feet of Jesus to our single brothers and sisters? I feel as if the church has been a scary place to find support for single adults, but there are so many of us that we can be that support for one another. So while we may not be called to walk through each other’s fires as a spouse would, we are called to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters. The more we do this for each other, the lighter our own load will become. Whether it’s venting together about having to forgo a dream opportunity for a more practical option or jump-starting each other’s dead cars, this kind of support can go a long way.
So, thanks to those who’ve been the hands and feet for me — I hope to be the same for you until the day comes when we aren’t walking through the fire alone.