A few weeks back, I was invited to a party. So naturally, the first thing that I did was go through my pre-party do-I-want-to-go checklist
- Do I want to go?
- Do I have to go? (Because we all Â have those parties where you say, “If I skip another party, Ashley is gonna freak. I have to go.” FreakinÂ Ashley. Stop making us feel bad for being introverted).
- Will there be a hot guy there? (Looks at guest list…)
- There will be no hot guys there.Â
- Will there be snacks?
- More specifically, pizza rolls?
- God, I love pizza rolls.
- What would I even wear?
- Wait, did I see my ex on the guest list?
- Now I have to lose 26 pounds before the party.Â
- Should I go buy pizza rolls right now?Â
- Is my ex bringing his new girlfriend? **Looks at guest list
- My ex’s new GF will be there, so I have to actually do my hair.
- Should I shave my legs? **Checks guest lists one more time
- I will go.
- **Somebody posts on the party page aboutÂ playing Settlers of Catan
- I will not go.Â
Generally speaking, that’s how it goes for me. But recently, there is a kind of party that I have been invited to that is even worse than the Settler’s party: The couples party.
I run inÂ what I consider to be the greatest group of friends in the world. We are adventurous, honest, interested in each other’s lives, and most importantly, probably the most hilarious group alive. We have a post-apocalyptic plan that’s honestly fool-proof. I don’t want to tell you what it is, though, mainly because none of you will be invited to survive with us.
As of recently, a shift has occurred in my group: I am the only single one. My best friend and faithful companion, Mike, has found himself a lady friend (who I absolutely and completely adore) and it hit me one day that I was the last single person in our squad. This is not a complaint as much as it just a realization that made me feel weird. It’s kind of like when you actually count how many years you’ve been graduated from high school. You feel proud that you’ve made it this far, but also kind of confused as to how it happened.
So I find myself in this odd place where every single party that I go to is full of couples. Now to be clear, I am obsessed with the people that my friends are dating. Absolutely, 100% love them. But I definitely am very aware of how white and non-attached that I am. Like I said before, it doesn’t really depress me. It just kind of freaks me out. Freaks me out, I guess, isn’t really even a good way to describe it. It just kind of…well yeah, I guess freaks me out.
I really gave this a lot of thought. I don’t want to be alone, of course, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to have somebody with me at every single thing that I do. I’m a weird kind of girl. It might be part of the reason why I’m single, I don’t know. I definitely need my down time. I’ll go to movies alone or grab dinner alone, or like many of you know, travel alone.
None of this done in some sort of Destiny’s Child way to prove to everyone how independent I am, but it’s mostly done because I’m hungry or bored. Or both. I don’t travel alone becauseÂ I am some sort of quest to find myself or become one with nature (something I accomplished long ago while in South Dakota). The answer is actually really easy: IÂ like traveling alone. I like the solitude and the adventure that comes with not having an itinerary. I enjoy it.Â I think this principle applies to a lot of my life. I enjoy my life. I like myself. I’m not afraid to be alone or to be solo.
So why, in the moments where I find myself in that exact spot, solo at a party or the only single in a room full of couples, do I feel a stab on inadequacy?
I’m a thinker. I’ve thought about this a lot. I have considered a million scenarios- everything from a basic longing for love to some sort of narcissistic I’m-better-than-everyone-and-I’m-just-bored-in-a-group-like-that. In fact, I’ve thought about it so much that I really think I overthought the entire thing. The answer is really completely not complex.
Why do I feel that stab of inadequacy? BecauseÂ success in the world that I live in has been substantially and frighteningly measured by one thing: do you have someone?
I feel that inadequacy because I’ve been told that that’s how I should feel if I’m not on the arm of a man. I have been taught that I am whole once I have found love. We laugh at this and call it silly, but haven’t we all felt that pain of the lack of the existence of the person we desire? And in the same way, haven’t we all at one point alluded to a single person that this is the most important thing?
About a year ago, I would have told you that the idea that our life begins and ends with love was the most assinine idea that I’ve ever heard. But now, I’m not so sure.
You see, my life has had a lot of beginnings: the first time I traveled outside of the country. The first time I took a road trip alone. Â The first time I held my nephews and nieces in my arms. The first time I realized I wanted children. The first time I discovered my calling. The first time I got a raise. The first time I realized how strong I was. The first time I realized that my voice mattered.
There are so many firsts. There are so many lasts. There will be many, many more throughout my life. But as I sat and thought about the idea of love, I realized that my life does begin and end with love; Everything that matters and has had significance in my life has been laced with love. But an even bigger wake-up call? My life begins and ends with the notion of me loving myself.
I can be the best graphic designer, the greatest speaker, or the biggest inspiration for someone… I can be the coolest aunt or the best daughter or the greatest employee in the world… I can be the most wonderful girlfriend or the best wife or the most amazing mom… But if I don’t love myself…if I don’t see myself as valuable, important and inspired, then all of that will whither. Quickly. It won’t matter, because it won’t be genuine.
If I can’t love myself, how can I love someone else? If I don’t think highly of myself, how can I treat others with value and importance. How I feel about myself will directly come out and cover the world around me like a wave. It will cover everyone. It won’t leave anyone out. How it covers them is up to me.
So yeah, sometimes it sucks to be alone at a party. Or alone at a family function. Or just alone in bed. But what sucks even more is being surrounded by people that love you, in the embrace of a man that adores you, or at a place of success in your career and in that moment, feeling alone.
Being solo isn’t scary. It’s not a test sent by God. It’s not a punishment for all the guys you drunkenly made out with in college (my bad). It’s a chance for you to really prepare yourself for life.Â Life will leave you feeling lonely and inadequate no what you have listed under “relationship status” on facebook. It doesn’t exclude anyone from this delusion.
If you feel alone today, I challenge you to ask yourself this question: Do I love myself? Do I like who I am?
If the answer is no, you have a really great opportunity in front of you: the opportunity to start over. To reinvent yourself. To become exactly who you want to be.
A person that you would love.