in my 30s i was both a guest and a participant in several weddings. one year i was in two weddings back to back. i always felt that those who knew me were watching me to see if i was genuinely happy for the bride. it was if they were waiting for me to fall apart standing next to her, checking my smile and searching for hidden tears. at one wedding, a part-time lover was a guest of the groom and he actually asked me if i was ok. in truth, i had pent up emotions and was fighting to keep my face intact, my mask firmly affixed, when inside i was wondering, when is my turn?
in one wedding i literally ran from the bouquet toss and the groom who was shouting my name (really bruh?) to make sure i was part of the fun. as the maid of honor it was assumed and expected that i would be front and center desperately vying for the bouquet, leaping into the air 4” stilettos tossed aside, amidst a sea of single black females. no thank you. i avoided the toss. thankfully so; i heard later that the groom’s mother got into a tug-of-war with one of the wedding guests and these determined women created a shower of petals strewn about the parquet floors of the banquet hall.
when you are single, you feel your friends, parents, siblings, church, colleagues and anyone who knows your best friend, waiting on you to get married. you are certain that you will be next but instead you receive another wedding announcement, another invitation to a bridal shower, requests to attend the local bridal show, and of course, the dreaded “will you be a bridesmaid?” you become the single black female version of katherine heigl in 27 dresses, the dear friend who cannot say no because if you do, you look like a sour, salty, old maid. at 30. or 35. or 40.
reminders of your single life extend beyond receipt of an embossed invitation to church where it appears that everyone is either: married with a tribe of children, intertwined like the pretzel couple who sit near the back under the balcony, or single with a trio of kids in tow. and the message is targeted toward all of them. how to raise your kids god’s way, how to be a better parent, how to love your spouse. every example starts with, “when my wife and i had our first child…” or “my husband always says that i…” and you look around bemused like, is this where i laugh at the punch line even though this IN NO WAY applies to my life?
looking for tools to manage your life, you attend a mid-week professional development conference and the theme is “work life balance.” the speaker highlights how she deftly navigated birthing twins, running her own company, and making sure her husband didn’t miss his flight because of course, he is a successful executive. and you think, where the hell do i fit into any of this?
single sisters listen closely. just because the message from the pulpit, or the tedx speaker, isn’t targeted toward you does not diminish your season or the value it brings. we treat singleness as an illness that can only be cured by a fine ass man and a rock the size of the hope diamond shining on our ring finger, but the reality is single life is not a condition that can be remedied by another person. it is a time for us to do the work. to address those annoying behaviors overlooked by our friends and family, to untangle the soul ties to past lovers, and accept that maybe the end of relationship is the beginning of a new one with yourself.
with my 20s and 30s in the rear view, i can see the immaturity and unrealistic expectations that lead to very real disappointments. there was a time when i needed “him” because the emptiness of my apartment was suffocating and there weren’t enough girls’ trips to fill the void. there was still something missing despite being with him because he wasn’t the one.
as i near my mid-40s and my 10-year journey through singleness rounds another bend, i realize that singleness must be attractive both to myself and to others. it cannot be something i seek to avoid, rather it must be a time in my life where i publish, present, promote, and praise. i designed this space to reveal the raw, unedited truths about living single. this is a not a sitcom and although some scenes were hilarious, others brought me to the point of an emotional breakdown. it is by sharing those moments that i endeavor to encourage another sbf as she navigates her way through this beautiful (and often unattractive) process.