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Article: Significant With or Without a Significant Other

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Amazonia posted 6/4/2014 06:09 AM

Loved this one, wanted to share (although I know it's floating around social media a lot, so maybe you've already seen it. ) It's better on the website^ because she uses a lot of italics and stuff for emphasis, and I'm too lazy to insert them all here.

By Shauna Niequist

When I speak at a college, no matter the topic they give me, I start the same way: Thank you for having me. You are significant with or without a significant other.

I say it every time because our culture is weirdly obsessed with romance and couples and being part of a matched set.

I say it every time because some of the people I love most in the world are singleóeither because they havenít yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended. Honestly, Iíve reached that age when I hear more divorce announcements than wedding bells.

And sometimes I wonder if there would be fewer divorce announcements if we werenít so hung up on marriage as a status symbol or accomplishment.

I love being married to Aaron. Heís my person, and every day Iím thankful for the life weíre making together. But being married doesnít mean my life is any more valuable or important or significant than the lives of my single friends.

A friend was in town over the weekend, and just as he left, he said ďHeyĖwe broke up. I wanted to tell you. And I wanted to thank you for always reminding me that itís okay to be single.Ē

Heís an old friend, in the awesome little brother category, a smart and sensitive person whoíd been trying to make a relationship work. And there was a lot of pressure for him to make it work, because it would turn him into that magical thing our culture loves to celebrateóa married person!

And Iím so happy that my you are significant with or without a significant other mantra was valuable to him. Thatís kind of one of my thingsóone of the things I love to tell people. A couple other things I love to tell people: go to counseling, make your own salad dressing, just about anyone can run a marathon. But I digress.

I love to tell people that itís okay to be single because so many of my very favorite people are single. And it breaks my heart when they feel like theyíre less or half or waiting around for their real lives to start. Thatís garbage.

You are significant with or without a significant other. Marriage isnít like being named prom queen. Itís a partnership, one I love being a part of. But it doesnít make me more special. Itís not a status symbol.

For whatever set of reasons, our culture loves the Game of Life two-in-the-front-seat way of living. But thatís not the only way. And youíre not less-than for being solo in your car in this season. And Iím so sorry if sometimes you feel that. Thatís awful.

Hereís the truth: some of the worst people I know are married. I donít know how it happens. And some of the truly best people I know are single. I donít know how that happens, either.

But what I do know is itís not about the fundamental value of the person in question. Your value is not up for grabs, and certainly your value is not riding on a cultural obsession with romance and tulle and diamonds.

You are significant with or without a significant other.

A few thoughts for my single friends, who I just adore:

Donít wait for marriage to start your life. Oh, man. My single friends do this so well. I love all the ways that my single friends are living well, with a great sense of adventure and purpose. Theyíre starting non-profits, traveling the world, creating homes with great style and creativity, contributing to their communities with so much love and honesty.

One of the very worst things about the whole wedding tradition is that we help people set up households when they get married, communicating that homes and nice things are for married people. Why should you have to be married to own a decent knife? Why do we only give married people towels and china? Shouldnít every person, married or not, have a decent coffee pot? Isnít that sort of a basic human right?

I remember when a single friend said, listen, I thought Iíd be married by now. I thought Iíd find that person and weíd buy a house together and buy furniture together. But just because that hasnít happened, I donít have to use an upside down milk crate for a nightstand, like I live in a dorm room, do I?

No, dear sister. Grown-ups should have good knives and nightstands and homes that have been created with love and attentiveness. You donít have to wait for a partner to invest in your space, in yourself, in your life.

At the same time, being single is an opportunity, even if itís not one you choose. Spend it. Singleness gives you a little more flexibility (unless youíre single parenting, which is a whole different deal, and which means I think youíre absolutely amazing.).

You might not want to be single right now. I get it. But it affords you some freedoms, and you should take them, every single one of them. Iím so proud of my single friends who are traveling like mad and living in interesting places and training for super-time-consuming races and getting fascinating graduate degrees.

Not every season affords this flexibility, and if you have it, grab it. Take it. Use it up. Please donít wish away this season just because it doesnít look the way you thought it would. What does singleness afford you? Time to write that book? Space to learn that skill? Flexibility to spend the summer in that dreamy place? Even if itís not what you wanted, or not what you planned, how can you spend the opportunity youíve been given in this season?

And while there are moments when you donít want to be single, please do know that there are those moments when married people donít want to be married. There are those moments when parents donít want to be parents. Itís how life is, for all of us.

A thought for my married friends:

Donít miss out on friendships with amazing people because theyíre single and their rhythm of life is different than yours. My single friends add so much to my life. My life would be so much less rich and fun and challenging if I was only around married people. Lame.

And donít assume that because someoneís single, they donít want to hang out with married people, or people with kids. Our Cooking Club is a mix of married and single. Our small group is a mix of married and single. Some of the sweetest connections my kids have arenít with my mom friends but with our single friends, and some of the most necessary and loving conversations Iíve had in recent months have been with single friends.

We all lose when we spend too much time with people right in the very same demographic. Life gets too small.

Dear, dear single friends: if I could reach through the screen, Iíd put my hands on your shoulders, and Iíd remind you as often as you need to hear it: you are significant with or without a significant other.

Being in a dating relationship or a marriage relationship doesnít validate you or make you more.

You are extraordinary, enough, more than enough.

Donít let a multi-billion dollar wedding industry tell you who you are. What do they know about your particular awesomeness?

You are significant, with or without a significant other.

Bluebird26 posted 6/4/2014 06:53 AM

TFS. So true

knockeddown posted 6/4/2014 12:12 PM

Thanks for sharing!!

She11ybeanz posted 6/4/2014 12:32 PM

I love this!!! I shared it on Facebook! I think its a great reminder to us single folks that we are awesome with or without a 2nd half! We are whole! I have a very full life with my daughter and we are happy! Sure.....romance would be icing on the cake....a father figure even...but I can be patient and I know that its not needed to feel complete!

Lately, I have been feeling down about love and the lack thereof. Last night my daughter was calling for my dad....and she was going "Papu...papu..." (She calls him Papu instead of paw paw) and then she said "" It made my heart break. Her father hasn't been a part of her life since she was 4 months old and she has never truly known him. His choice. She turns 2 in 2 months!

Then, I have A LOT of friends who are getting married and have these big happy families... and go on trips together and post their pictures and their "lovey dovey" statuses..... and its hard sometimes to read about all of the romance. But, its nice to know that I'm not alone. There are lots of people out there just like me who are just as awesome as I am....and are a "party of 1!" Or my case....a "Party of 1.5"

strawblond30 posted 6/4/2014 19:43 PM

Thank you

Amazonia posted 6/6/2014 07:00 AM

Glad it was meaningful. I really enjoyed it.

marlie2014 posted 6/6/2014 16:47 PM

I enjoyed this article very much. I get tired of people continually asking me when I'm going to start dating again (I just barely got divorced!), as if I have to find someone else or I'll be incomplete somehow.

I'm fine, I don't need to be "completed" ala Jerry Maguire.

PhoenixRisen posted 6/7/2014 07:03 AM

Agreed I think the French do it right.
Any woman turning 30, who has never been married, traditionally get a party with tons if awesome house related presents! Good knives, coffee makers etc. it's like wedding registry gifts.

JerseyCowgirl posted 6/8/2014 07:20 AM

You certainly are my guardian angel today by posting that great article. Was feeling down & this so lifted my spirits..thank you!

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