Some of the most beloved storylines end with the hopeful words “happily ever after.” The nostalgic phrase takes me back to childhood and evokes warm memories of bedtime stories, rainy days spent watching fairy tales and daydreams of romantic first dances.
In great literature, the “happily ever after” narrative is characterized by a beautiful and breathtaking ending. It’s usually the kind of ending we’re rooting for—the conclusion that even the greatest of cynics secretly hope to see. The hero saves the day. Goodness triumphs over evil. The protagonist falls wildly and madly in love, and he or she lives happily ever after with a partner.
This classic storyline, though rosy and romantic, carries with it its share of flaws. One of the most obvious red flags connects to this idea that life begins when we fall in love, get married or find “the one.” As we have heard this story for much of our lives, it’s easy to find ourselves living according to this common misconception.
What if happily ever after, however, didn’t just arrive in the wake of new love, in the midst of a budding relationship or after the “I do’s”? What if, regardless of a person’s relationship status or stage of life, happily ever after looked, felt and sounded like something unique and specific to every human being on earth? What if we didn’t need to wait for the conventional happily ever after to pursue or fulfill our dreams?
What if we didn’t need to wait for the conventional happily ever after to pursue or fulfill our dreams?
We don’t have to look far to see that society tends to elevate marriage above singleness. Throughout the calendar year, our journals are dotted with celebrations from Valentine’s Day to weddings, engagement parties, anniversaries and bridal showers. All of which are beautiful occasions worthy of commemoration. I revel in them all. However, we still have a long way to go when it comes to celebrating singleness in equal measure.
During these moments, as a single woman, it’s easy to feel left out, inferior or slightly less celebrated. Am I falling behind everyone else? Is there something wrong with me for wanting to be single? Should I be looking for a boyfriend? Am I weird for choosing this path?
I’ve reached an age where many of my close friends and family are beginning to get married, have children, buy homes (or puppies) and “settle down” with their partners. As I’ve stood beside friends on their wedding days or held their hands through pregnancies, my heart overflows with happiness for them. While marriage isn’t a dream of mine (at least right now), at times, I’ve been left with a small ache in my belly that leads me to believe that I might be missing something.
Despite these fleeting feelings (and are generally found in moments of fragility), I know that I am exactly where I ought to be. Most importantly, I find peace in the knowledge that the things that are meant for me will neither miss me nor pass me by. There’s no need to fret, strive or even compromise by looking for a partner from a place of self-doubt or loneliness. Whenever the time comes, I hope I’ll fall in love from a place where I’m already filled to the brim with contentment—living a life that I’m proud of and grateful for.
I know that I am exactly where I ought to be.
So why don’t we need to be married or in a relationship in order to pursue our dreams? Are we free to pursue our dreams and hearts desires no matter our relationship status?
The answer is beautifully simple: yes. Your ability to pursue a dream is in no way continent upon which relationship status box you check on your taxes. In fact, singleness provides a unique season of margin to pursue those dreams wholeheartedly. It creates a time for focus, freedom and growth. It can unlock the door to a staggering and breath-taking life.
Singleness is an invitation to learn more about ourselves—to refine our focus, get to know our strengths and weaknesses better, to develop our characters and to understand our values on a deeper level. Singleness offers us the chance to give our undivided attention to the aspirations, ideas, friends, communities and causes close to our hearts. In a world that is deeply in need of restoration, singleness provides the gift of time to make a difference. The world desperately needs our creativity, vision and passion. What better time to give it than now?
Your ability to pursue a dream is in no way continent upon which relationship status box you check.
Our capacity to live a full and free life is equivalent to anyone who is married or in a relationship. In case you weren’t so sure, your life can be equally as rich, joyful and whole. You do not need a spouse or partner to do something significant. You bring beauty and restoration to the world exactly as you are. So, what are you waiting for?
Has there ever been a time where you pressed pause on a dream because of your relationship status? How have you learned to see singleness as a gift?
Image via Raisa Zwart Photography