Monday, May 24, 2010

Confusing Thing in My Life That I Need to Figure Out #154,789,287,764

I came to an interesting realization a few weeks ago, and it was this: I like myself better when I'm single. I feel that I am stronger, wiser, more humble, more faithful, more patient, more exacting with my time, kinder to others and more fulfilled at the end of the day, when I am single, than I ever am when I'm not. And it's pretty easy to see why, but I'll list the reasons anyway:

1. When you are single, life kind of sucks. It's true. So, in an effort to make your life worth living, you (that is, I) tend to be better about doing those things that you know will really bring you happiness, even if only in the short term. Like selfless service, and hard work, and spending time with your family, and other things that you just don't make time for when you're dating.

2. Because you're so dang lonely and your moments are therefore harder to get through, you plan them more carefully. You live your life deliberately because you must, because it doesn't just float by on its own anymore. You can't take it for granted anymore that there is a boy waiting for you every evening after work; no, instead you have to actually stop and decide what productive/enriching thing you're going to do with your free time that evening. This usually means that your time is ultimately better spent than it would have been otherwise.

3. You learn what it means to be responsible for yourself again. Responsible for your happiness, responsible for your sadness, responsible for figuring out your own problems. The point is that you don't have the option anymore of handing your latest tragedy over to the nearest male figure, imploring him to dispose of it like you would the kitchen trash. Instead you sit with it, you experience it for yourself, and you come to remember who it is after all that you're supposed to be depending on. You resolve once again that you will never, as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it, "use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings."

4. Finally, you are compelled to be humble. You figure out pretty soon that happiness in the form of a significant other is not going to come to you of your own efforts - it is clearly in someone else's hands, and in His timing. You learn a lot about what it means to really, I mean really, exercise faith (at least, as much faith as you've ever had to exercise so far in your short, cushy life).

So, in short, you're a better person. (Switching back to first-person now) I hate being single, I really do. And yet, I'm never more at peace with myself than when I'm trucking along without a man. How does this bode for marriage? Must I choose one over the other? I have so much to learn.

In case you didn't hear, it snowed in Provo today.


Joe and Christie said...

You are so wise. I am envious of your wise-ness.

Bryce said...

Deep thoughts, Mish. I absolutely know where you're coming from. Stephen Covey has a phrase, "when borrowing strength builds weakness", which basically means compensating for our shortcomings by relying on strengths we have in other areas; that strength could be, for instance, the stability and support we have achieved through a relationship. However, if your goal is to be strong, independent, and capable of taking care of others, relying on such "crutches" to cover for areas where much serious growth is needed is not a path that will get you there. I am not saying relationships are bad per se - only that it is possible that our motives for pursuing them may be to escape from difficult but necessary growth.

I very much agree with you about responsibility. If life is about learning to use our agency well to grow, which I submit that it is, then we cannot escape our responsibility for the choices we make. One of the big lessons I've learned from dealing with depression is that I am responsible for my own happiness, and therefore need to make things happen in the pursuit of it. On the other hand, if I passively allow the default choices to make themselves, I will end up being unhappy.