Ladies, our culture is unfairly stacked against us. If you’ve spent more than five minutes interacting with other humans in the world, that much is obvious. When we walk on the street, our bodies are public property to comment on. When we speak at school or work, letting us finish our thought is optional. We are tended to last, if at all, in Emergency Rooms because our complaints of pain are taken far less seriously. We can’t possibly mean what we say; we’re just women.
I think worst of all; we are never recognized as a whole and as interesting as individuals. We are always described first as the crazy ex-wife (no further explanation needed), or the young mother of three (no other accomplishments stated).
Single men are “stags” and “bachelors.” Single women are “old maids”, “spinsters,” and “crazy cat ladies.” There aren’t a lot of popular images of thriving single women. There just aren’t. They don’t get a lot of screen time. Women are so often defined by who they’re trying to date, who they’re messily breaking up with, how many kids they have or how badly they want kids.
Film agencies don’t sell our image, but that doesn’t mean amazingly bad-a** single women like us disappear. Welcome love, to the ranks of Princess Diana, Joan of Arc, and Cleopatra. We are Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson, and Oprah Winfrey. We are not flowers in the shade, wilting every hour you spend by yourself. You are a whole person even without someone else in the room to tell you who you are.
See this time in your life as a gift. If you feel you have so much love ready to give, give it to yourself. If you’re craving spending all your focus and attention on someone, spend it on you. Spend it with your family and friends. Knock some items off your bucket list. This is your precious time, so don’t waste it wishing your life was different.
Perhaps one day soon you’ll have all the relationship commitments you crave now and miss your time alone. Perhaps you’ll discover being alone is more fun than you realized, and turn down the chance to be committed at all. This time is yours, so spend it in the present. Spend however long it takes to change your aching, empty heart into one overflowing with appreciation for the life you have. Practice your ability to care and give love to others by giving to the friends you already have around you.
You are not obligated to pay your weight in tears every time a relationship ends. The people who have walked out of your life in the past did that for themselves, not because you forced them to do anything. You are lovable beyond measure, even when you make mistakes just like the rest of us. Use your past relationships as feedback and information, not a measure of your worth. Just because you’re used to relationships starting and ending a particular way doesn’t mean that’s how it’s going to be for the rest of your life.
You can grow. You ARE growing. Get accustomed to being uncomfortable, and prepare yourself for something strange and new. Use what you’ve learned in the past as a guidebook, not a scoreboard. You may have some faulty assumptions that you will have to practice letting go. You may be addicted to drama and the let down because that’s all you’ve ever known.
Like a smoker trying to quit, you may find yourself in familiar emotional places waiting for that toxic burn and feel lost when it doesn’t come. Keep going. Keep trusting even when it feels vulnerable and almost too risky to be worth it. Keep training yourself to expect good love—that real love— instead of staying stuck with what you had in the past. Your past can’t control you unless you let it.
You are a whole person with or without a plus one. Write your own bio. Find how you define yourself without the gaze of another person. Stop asking what other people need from you, ask what makes you excited to get up in the morning and then get up and do it.
We need more women like you. We need more people who are excited to be alive. Every woman shrugging off the stigma that she is not enough creates more space for the rest of us to exist. Give yourself permission to love yourself, by yourself. I’ll be right here with you.
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*Disclaimer: These thoughts are of anonymous writers who contribute to Peace Quarters