I was a single woman for what felt like aeons.
Often when I rocked up at a party by myself I felt like I was a grotesque double headed freak show. This feeling would disappear once I got talking and time moved on, but it did take some bravery to wander into every social event alone. As the years moved on many of my friends graduated first to marriage and then to reproducing small versions of themselves in the form of children. I increasingly felt like I had moved light years away from them and that I was in fact residing on an alien planet, our life pathways had diverged that much. Unfortunately I hadn’t actually moved anywhere, I was still living the same boring old life except that apparently I was ineligible to graduate.
Going to extended family events was even worse because such events are inherently focussed on ties to other people and the expansion of the broader family network. This time I was not only a scary double headed freak show, I was literally a standalone exhibit at the freak show museum. Glass display case and all. By the time I reached my early thirties most family members of my age had families of their own, whereas I couldn’t even get myself a boyfriend. All I had to talk about was my unimpressive and rather junior level job. It seemed to become obvious very quickly that I was unlikely to contribute to the family at all and that the “lost cause” stamp would be required for my head on the family tree. Don’t get me wrong, my extended family are lovely and I was never made to feel excluded one tiny little bit. This is just how I felt as a single person attending such events.
To be honest as a younger woman I had run in to some great men, but as I had finally broken loose of school I just wanted everyone to f*#k off and leave me free to enjoy myself. As time moved on I then tried relationships and quickly made a spectacular mess of them, so I decided that life was so much easier if I steered clear of them altogether. I also thought that friendships with people of the opposite sex worked well in general, but I discovered that they only work sometimes.
Later on I sometimes wondered if I had missed my chance and as a result been permanently assigned to the discards pile. On occasion I would see couples smiling and holding hands and I would feel both irritated and revolted. I started hypothesising that I might have been born a member of a single human subspecies that is inadequate for pairing up purposes, and that as a result I might be incompatible with all members of the opposite sex. Maybe I was doomed to live my life as an individual only, human evolution having already determined that my deficient genetics should not be passed on.
There were plenty of positives to being single though. I did enjoy being available to meet the men of the world. There was an element of excitement and possibility associated with being single, free and absolutely scorching hot, thank you very much. I really enjoyed anticipating who I might meet as I went about my daily business. In addition, I felt relieved that I hadn’t saddled myself with some complete arsehole by marrying someone at a young age when I didn’t know diddly-squat about zip, let alone understand what to look for in a long term partner. While I always enjoyed the delightful possibility that there might be an amazing man just around the next corner, as time progressed I started to wonder why I wasn’t actually ever banging into (or banging) any of these men, no matter how many corners I walked around. Maybe I wasn’t so hot and maybe the attractive men (who also found me attractive) had all set sail for foreign lands.
Despite wondering about this occasionally, I did love the autonomy being single gave me. I could go wherever I wanted to go, stay for exactly as long as I wanted to stay, and not have to compromise on a damn thing. Selfishly, I also loved being able to go to social events with my friends and not have to look after anyone else, which is required sometimes when you have a special friend in your life and they don’t know anyone at the party. Aside from that I was hot and single, so f*&#k everyone else.
I also never gave up believing that there was an amazing love waiting for me. This is because despite all indications I actually am an eternal optimist.
By the way, I did find that amazing love. He has never betrayed my trust or let me down and quite incredibly we’ve been together for over 12 years.
One must always hold fast to eternal optimism.
© Annemaree Jensen 2017
All of the amazing photos included in this essay are taken from the awesome website pexels.com.