Part of not being in school anymore means that I don’t need to see couples holding hands and walking to their classes. As a single 23-year-old, I’m very happy with this. But on the flip side, not being in school adds more societal pressure on me to find “the one”. Settle down, get married, have kids. Because everyone else is doing it, right?
Being a single young adult means different things to different crowds. In the secular world, this is the time to “find myself”, date around, figure out what I like and want in a partner, and what I want for myself. But in the Christian world, this is prime time to find a partner for lifetime-commitment marriage. And both views are equally vocalized in my life, especially on social media. My Facebook newsfeed overflows with wedding pictures and couples (of course, with a pretty Instagram filter). And honestly, part of me rolls my eyes a little, while part of me wants that same love for myself. I also see pictures of people my age travelling the world with a glass of wine, and making their life look fabulous. Part of me wants a little bit of that fabulousness too (minus the wine).
It’s not that I don’t want to settle down. In fact, I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day probably since I watched my first Disney movie. I know so many other girls my age that want Prince Charming to whisk them off their feet. And I get it, I really do. Disney princess movies have really set the bar high for our romantic expectations. Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells – a prince in disguise! I know that I at least sometimes dream about someone who would search the whole kingdom to find me like Cinderella’s Prince Charming, fight dragons for me like Prince Phillip, or climb towers to get to me like Flynn Rider. And if I do, then I’m likely not alone.
But as we pine away in our dream world, we should not forget our own worth.
While I’m still a romantic, I’m perhaps a little jaded. I’ve seen with myself and other women those who give up their potential to be with a man, purely for the reason that they feel lonely, or to find their worth in a man. Men are great, and can change you for the better, but only if you recognize your own potential as well.
I heard once that God wouldn’t plant in us the desire for a romantic partner if he wasn’t going to fulfill that need. And if that’s true, then we needn’t worry about if we’ll find the person we’re meant to be with, because we will. It’s all just a matter of time.
However, I feel like, as females, we are used to being the ones who compromise. Sometimes when we find someone we like, we will sacrifice parts of ourselves in order to make things work. Maybe that’s not true for everyone. But in the past, I’ve been willing to change my career goals just to make the relationship stay afloat, and convinced myself I’m happy in a particular environment when I’m not. And while I’m not very proud of these things, I know that I’m at least not alone in this problem, either. The same can be said for some men too, I’m sure.
Women are still ushered into the role of sweetheart, mother, and caretaker before we even know what they fully entail. These are noble pursuits, absolutely. But just take a minute before we thrust ourselves into them.
We are fed the lie that being single is bad. In every “why are you still single?”, we are told singleness means that we’re undesirable, or that we’re “too picky”. To make the point, let’s flip this example around. We don’t ask “why do you still have a boyfriend?” unless that person is bad for our friend. So when we ask “why are you single?”, we are unintentionally saying that being single is bad and that that should be changed.
But this time that you’re single, right now, is your one and only chance to figure out what you want, without needing to calculate someone else’s needs in the picture. Do you realize how special that is? No, really; do you? In the day and age where women have the right to vote, go to school, and take management positions, we must ask ourselves: How do you want to live your life? Where is God calling you? How will you make your mark on the world?
You might have a dream that you want to be the CEO of a huge company. Some day, perhaps, but not right now. You get your degree, start working in some well-known company, and then you meet Mr. Perfect. Mr. Perfect also has a goal – to start his own business. He tells you that he supports your dream to be CEO, and you tell him that you support his dream, too, because you love him. You get married, have kids, and then your husband lets you know that he needs someone to take care of the client side of his business, and he needs to be able to trust them implicitly while he’s starting up. So you step in, take on the responsibility, because he assures you that it’s only temporary, and anyway, it’s only a small detour from where you were working before, right? And then suddenly it’s ten years down the road, your hands are full with little mouths to feed, and your Mr. Perfect is busy being the CEO of the company that you’re still the secretary for.
This story is neither common nor uncommon. Husband and wife are meant to work together, of course, but they need to have the same goal from the beginning, and you need someone who respects your dreams like you do theirs. Otherwise, someone will end up bitter, and that means you both suffer. If you’re in a relationship now and your goals change, you two can work through that together. But if you’re single now, why not take advantage of the time that you’re given?
What if your job relocates you every two years but your husband’s job doesn’t grant him flexibility? Do you and your husband live in different locations? Do you quit? What are you able to handle? Consider all the possibilities between you and your (perhaps potential) partner.
What do you want in a partner? How do you want to spend your career? Will your future husband’s goals align with yours? Why do you want a partner? What can you give to the relationship?
Instead of dreaming of how our Prince Charming will sweep us off our feet, let’s think about who we are. A lot of our worth comes from our character, ladies. Is your character up to scratch? Are you kindhearted? “A kindhearted woman gains honour, but ruthless men gain only wealth.” (Proverbs 11:16). Are you wise? “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1). Do you fear and love the Lord? “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30). Are you a hard-worker? (Proverbs 31). While it’s true that a lot of Bible verses regarding women’s character refer to her role as a wife, we can apply these same principles to our lives as single women.
God may be using your season singleness to strengthen your character. I know that’s how He’s using mine. And I think that this period in our lives allows us to have the best of both worlds. We can determine where we want life to lead while we strengthen our own character, while keeping our eyes open for the the right partner. He’ll come along. God’s timing is never wrong.