Every once in a while, an “older single” publishes a letter about how miserable she is, and how her married friends just make it worse, what with rubbing her face in their children and never setting her up.
These letters make me sad. For starters, they perpetuate the angry old maid stereotype. I do not want to be pitied, however much these letter-writers do.
But mostly, I’m sad because there are single women who are unhappy with their lives. Yes, you want to move on to the next stage. But appreciate what you have while you have it!
As a very happy (too happy?) single, I feel compelled to write a brief guide to happy singlehood for all those miserable women out there.
1 – Move out. You’re a big girl now. Looking after yourself is surprisingly gratifying. I mean everything from making sure you’re fed (or eating out if you’re not) to coming home at midnight because “things came up” and not having to answer to anyone for it. Even housecleaning is more fun when it’s your own carpet that you’re vacuuming.
If you’ve got independent means, you should enjoy the fruits of your labor. Live like an adult. You’ll start to feel like one.
2 – Make single friends. Good4 says that for an introverted misanthrope, I have more friends than anyone she knows. That’s because I keep making them. And I do it very deliberately. Sometimes a little stalkerishly. It took me weeks to hunt down my first single when I first moved OOT. And when I finally came face-to-face with her, I actually blurted out “I’ve been looking for you for weeks!” To her credit, she did not back away slowly while fumbling for her phone.
3 – Hang out with your friends. You’d think this one was self-explanatory. Is that not the purpose of friends? But you’d be surprised.
In both OOT communities I’ve lived it, I’ve noticed the same pattern. Singles go to work, come home, eat supper, surf the net, and go to sleep, all while feeling sorry for themselves. They know there are other singles doing the exact same thing. But it never occurs to anyone to pick up the phone and say “Hey, wanna come over and play Bananagrams?”
Which is how this introverted misanthrope wound up being the social epicenter of a singles community. For lack of anyone else doing it, I organize game nights, trivia nights, Chanukah parties, Chinese+movie outing, creek walks, bike rides, birthdays, and a dozen other excuses to spend time with people I like.
I’m also very friendly to newcomers to the community. Not because I’m a selfless welcome wagon. I’m just ensuring myself a steady stream of single friends to make up for those lost by attrition to marriage.
4 – But don’t lose MFs. Letters like the one in the link put MFs in a difficult spot. Somehow, they’re at fault, discomforting singles just by existing. That’s unfair. If you’re single and you want to drift away, the ball is in your court. But chances are you were friends for a reason, not just via geographic proximity.
Maybe MFs are busy with a different stage in life, but you can still talk to them. I value the perspective my MFs provide on marriage and singlehood both. And one day I hope to be a young mother, and able to benefit from the years of experience they can provide for me on such topics as diaper brands and Time Out procedures.
5 – Host your own Shabbos meals. Spending Shabbos with a proper nuclear family that does things by the book feels like the best way to “do” Shabbos. But sometimes, you just don’t want to feel like a fifth wheel. Or the single invited because, nebach, she has nowhere else to go. Or just the person without a table of her own. You have a table! And If you don’t, buy one! Then fill it up with people you like and have a rollicking good time.
And 5b: host your MFs. Yes, your table is just as worthy as theirs. And if you’re worried about the awkward, host multiple MFs so their husbands can congregate at the end and talk about mishnayos or football or whatever.
6 – Invest in some real household goods. Maybe a nice set of dishes for your Shabbos meal, because nothing screams “Just passing through” like a table full of paper plates. Maybe a comfy couch or two sets of color-coded anodized-steel cookware. Your life has worth. Treat it right. And these are all just fewer things you’ll have to buy when you get married.
6b – Just spend some money on yourself. Savings accounts are great, but you can’t save every spare penny for yeshiva tuition. That’s a miserable way to live. Go on vacation. Buy yourself a nice toy. Save for the future, definitely. But occasionally splurge on the present.
7 – Take up hobbies. One day, you will have to be home at 5pm to warm up supper. One day, you will have to be home whenever you told your spouse you would be. One day, you will have to be home simply because someone has to be there when the kids are. One day, in short, you will be tied to your home and your spouse by a short leash. Your recreational hobbies will be limited to things that you can do indoors while being interrupted by crying children.
But now you are free as the wind! You can use this opportunity to level-up your skills in anything. So take a course—in cosmetics or Gaelic or carpentry. Learn a new skill, like kickboxing or rock climbing. Join a book club or sewing circle. Experience the joy of fitness: buy a bike; join a gym; run a race.
If you are the type of person who sees everything you do in light of the marriage you hope is to come, trust me: it will all come in handy. Knowledge, skills, and good health will always come in handy. Plus, you’re more interesting with hobbies.
Imagine you’re sitting across the table from a guy who admits that after work he comes home, stares at the walls, and waits for a shadchan to call. Now imagine you’re opposite a guy who speaks enthusiastically about steeple-chasing, or who shows you pictures of the longbow he carved himself. Or who is a fount of information on the history of Jews in Omaha. Or who uses a 3D printer to make mini-you action figures as customized birthday presents. Who would you rather see again?
Nothing is more appealing than joy and enthusiasm. Get some!