“Why Are You Single?”

“Do you know how many times
I found myself foraging for reasons a man should want me
Like a child trying to catch a hundred butterflies in one jar
Being alone is quiet room in the center of noise machine
I will not stay here forever
But sometimes
The silence can sound like a storm breaking.”
— Kait Rokowski, from “Why Are You Single?” in So Much for the Mercy Kill

It was during one of those long train rides in cold Copenhagen, Denmark – I’m telling ya, plentiful thoughts and feelings crossed my mind and heart at the time but silly me for forgetting my journal and pen… – that it finally struck me that maybe, maybe… I’m done being by my lonesome self. Maybe it’s time… to put a halt to my constant solo trip getaways.

I’m at this point in my life right now where scrolling through Facebook isn’t necessarily painful in a bad way, it’s just the annoying truth about reality is sinking in with each new post from friends – marriage announcements and celebrations, engagement and bachelorette parties, committed and long-term relationships on full display… you get the picture.

Even if I wasn’t looking, there’s now an unnecessary pressure to be on the lookout. Ah, cultural societies… (deep sigh)

A close pal asked just last night too, “Have you had a significant other before?”

And I was honest in my answer: no.

I’ve thought about this relationship business a lot this year – probably the most I’ve thought about in twenty-four years, ha – and I still stand by the fact that although I am starting to feel a kind of void in my life that I would, given a chance, genuinely like to fill (…with a person, if only this is easy!), I don’t regret being “single” – and interestingly, I’d never use this term on myself until recently – and on my own for the last twenty-four years. Or realistically speaking, the last six to seven years.

It’s not that I’ve never thought about the idea of romantic relationships – I’d be lying if I said I haven’t. But I was always most concerned about trying to make sure that I grew up and turned out well. I was, to be completely honest, too busy loving myself on good days and fixing myself on bad days. More often than not, I was also too in love with everything around me – the cities I lived in and visited; the natural surroundings that humbled me in God’s presence; the people I met and befriended; concepts and ideas that challenged my fundamentals… I was in love with the many different elements of life, so enchanted and enthralled by them that the idea of a boy, loving a boy, never fully took flight and form in my mind.

So you know, no matter what I feel now about “missing out” – I don’t regret “waiting it out,” so to speak. Because it wasn’t that I wasn’t in love all these years, you know? And it’s not like I was unhappy either; that’s the furthest from the truth.

I think I was, for the most part, in a process of trial-and-error with myself. I was trying to figure myself out – the definitions of myself, the basis behind my groundwork and various layers of my essence – and getting over my complexes. It is only now – thank God – that I finally feel at ease with who I am, the person that I am. I know this to be true because I no longer beat myself up for not becoming all those girls I imagined I would but couldn’t, nor do I reject myself before anyone (in my mind) would. I really, really, really like the person I am now. It’s okay if you don’t like me, honest – because I can do the loving and appreciating by myself. And it’s taken me twenty-four long years to achieve this and arrive at this point – so no, hell no, I’m not going to sell myself short because of insecurities. Enough of those, enough already.

Basically, now I finally get it – afters years and years of Eldest Sis telling me, “Don’t be in a relationship until you’re sure of yourself. Don’t jump into one when you’re still only half the person you could be, or if you believe that someone else needs to fill in those missing parts of yourself you’ve identified.” Truth be told, I’d secretly roll my eyes each time she said this to me, thinking, “Easy for you to say!” She had a ten-year boyfriend and except for a one-year post-breakup recovery period, the following years were spent with then-fiancé now-husband. I’m glad I listened to her though. I’m glad I listened well.

Because now I look at myself and I think, I am whole. And in my mind, if or when I am in a relationship, it will be a union of a whole person meeting another whole person; we aren’t halves of each other. I will not accept that.

I know that some girls undergo their growing up and maturity best with a guy by their side – there are girls like that, likewise guys – and I’m not here to judge how a person chooses to mature. I just know that for myself, it was impossible to have done it another way. I’m thankful and blessed to have an amazing support system in the form of my (large) family and closest friends – sometimes even strangers – but despite receiving their love and patience, it’s always been common knowledge that no one can or will fight my battles and make decisions for me; it’s me, all me, who needs to walk my path. Then and now.

Okay, I don’t know where I’m going with this write-up; it’s just, this has been on my mind for sometime now? I feel like there’s no loss or shame in admitting this out loud, all of it. I never knew I’d be one to say this, but here I go – I actually hope to fall in love soon. This might sound silly – here’s also how I knew I’d arrived at the person I hoped I would: I carry myself with respect and do not find my worth lessened by admitting out loud what others would consider an insecurity or lacking trait – I genuinely want to experience what being in a relationship feels like. I want to find out for myself whether the stuff in movies and dramas and books are real, or they’re merely fiction and grossly exaggerated. In order to write compelling narratives and “juicy gossips” as a close friend hilariously put it yesterday, I need to first live those tales.

What I feel about the institution of marriage is a wholly different matter – no person is black and white, neither am I – but I do believe in companionship. I hope I won’t grow old alone. I am a writer who writes her life stories for sanity (not yet for a living!) and in order to offer new perspectives, I need to keep living new tales. Maybe at the end of the day though, I’m simply a girl-turned-woman who now respects, understands, and values herself enough that she’d like someone else, an outright stranger-turned-something-else, who would appreciate and value her in the same way that she does about herself.

Or maybe I just want love to know that I am ready for it to come knocking on my door. You can come in now.

…but if it doesn’t – not yet, surely not forever? – I am comforted and at ease that I’ve done the best loving: with myself.

“If you must
fall in love
with a stranger
let it first be
with yourself.”
— Pavana

Above all, I’m fully aware and mindful that God has been extremely kind with me, all these years. He’s given me beauty and kindness and crisp, autumn leaves reflecting changing perspectives. Either way the chips fall – I’m never at a losing end.

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3 thoughts on ““Why Are You Single?”

  1. What a lovely, introspective post. I love that you emphasized maturity and being whole and loving yourself before being able to commit to a relationship with another human being.

    Like you, I’m NBSB (No Boyfriend Since Birth) for reasons similar to yours. When I was younger, I knew I wasn’t emotionally ready for a relationship, that I would pick sleep over a date 9/10 times. And if that’s the case, why bother? So I didn’t. Although I did consider getting a boyfriend just so I could experience it. In the end, I decided against it because I didn’t want to bother and waste the ‘first boyfriend’ label on a worthless relationship. I didn’t want to look back years later and regret dating for the sake of it. There’s also the not-so-minor consideration of strict parents who forbade relationships until I graduated college. Another factor is my friends’ many romantic (mis)adventures over the years. It feels like I lived through the same things, albeit vicariously. And this only reinforced my desire to not be in a relationship.

    So instead, I focused on me, my hobbies, my studies, my friends and family. I’m still a work in progress but all these years of introspection and learning brought me confidence and self-assurance, and I know what I want in life.

    I’m 26 this year. I’m in no rush to fall in love but now, more than ever, I’m open to the possibility.

  2. I find solo getaways so much more liberating than travelling with others. When we travel solo, we rely on ourselves, and sometimes the kindness of strangers, and that is a different kind of experience both fulfilling and humbling. We realise that a different kind of courage lies in us that we never knew we could have, and from there we learn and grow up a little, not only in the ways of the world, but how we come to terms with the person we are and could be.

    1. Junny, you always have such a beautiful way with words and thoughts :) I fully agree, and that’s exactly why I’ve traveled by myself so much over the past six years. But I’m starting to feel a kind of fatigue, or maybe it is just void. Things look nicer and more interesting somehow, when consumed with a like-minded pair/peer. Maybe I just need a break from solo traveling for awhile to get back in its groove :)

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