A few months before the movie 'How To Be Single' came out I was ridiculously excited. I thought it was going to be this super funny movie with Rebel Wilson about how to date. I was quoting the movie from the 1 min trailer I had seen, 6 months before it was out. It was all I talked about in my client sessions.
Needless to say, I was into it.
The night before the movie released and I couldn't take it anymore, I was a volcano about to erupt and I broke up with my then boyfriend. It was a long time coming, but I had to do it because it just wasn't right anymore. It had nothing to do with the release of the movie, just a woman who was tired of being a ghost in her own body.
The breakup was hard because he was my boss and we worked together for 12 hours a day. Even though our relationship wasn't healthy, he was my person. Eh, not my person, but the person I had known to be so comfortable around for the last 9 months.
I cried, and told him we could call it a break because I didn't have the balls to end it. I told him that I wasn't happy anymore and I felt like there were so many things I needed to do and experience on my own. I didn't want to wake up one day and realize I had become co-depenedt and never done the things I wanted to do. Like take a pole dancing class, travel alone, and just be alone. I hadn't spent enough time just living in my own space and learning that that was okay. All of these things could have been done in the relationship, sure—but I needed to be alone and we were growing apart.
The next day he asked if he could still see the movie with me and I told him yes, as long as he understood it would 1: probably be awkward, and 2: this didn't mean we were on a date.
So he goes with me and the first scene of the movie is Dakota Johnson breaking up with her college boyfriend.
What happens next was probably one of the greatest and most awkward moments of my life.
She says something like: I just don't want to wake up one day and realize I've missed out on my life. I need to be alone.
She goes on of course, and theres more, but as she's saying this I'm sitting down like holy fucking shit this is not happening. I begin to grin out of irony at the fact that my boyfriend, ex-boyfriend now, is sitting right next to me, essentially watching a repeat of what just happened with us less than 24 hours beforehand.
I can feel his eyes burning a hole in my head. He, unlike me, was not amused.
What I thought was going to be a really funny movie about dating, ended up being one of the most powerful movies I've ever seen.
I know you're wondering how I could possibly think that this film is one of the most powerful I've seen, but it was everything I didn't know I needed.
I'm sure you know it all too well—your friends, and possibly you, are always on tinder or bumble or at the bar, or waiting to be set up, or bummed you're alone on a Friday night waiting for 'your person',
Perhaps, like me, you've thought of all the dreamy ways you'd meet this person. Maybe in the line at Whole Foods. They'll comment on the flavor of kombucha you got and sparks will fly, then 1 year later you're taking engagement photos wearing semi matching flannels in the mid of fall with tan boots and crunchy leaves.
Your time is spent either dating a person, or waiting to date another person. Upset at the fact that you're alone. Like alone is the worst thing you could possibly be. Dead, that's the worst thing you could possibly be. Or not really, but maybe like homeless, or limbless or starving. But alone, no, that's not the worst.
I had a mentor once tell me that if she could do over her life again, she would spend more time being single. Not necessarily to date, just to be alone and get okay with being alone.
People act like being single is a sad thing, but I like it. I feel this kind of lightness in my body and a sense of freedom. Not because I was bound by shackles before, but because I'm realizing the importance of being able to live in your body and the amazingness in just being your own person without being tied to, or wanting to be tied to someone else.
Since I was 14 I've been someones person, and that hasn't all been bad, but I've realized that I didn't really know how to be alone.
I mean, I do—but what I found was that in all of my alone time that I had I was either on the phone with my person, or with my person.
In the days after my most recent break-up, I found myself wanting to call everyone I knew when I was alone in the car, or play a podcast or go out and be away from my house all day because I didn't want to just be alone and process what was happening for me.
As if being alone is something bad.
It's certainly not.
Alone however, can feel scary, unknown and simply very different.
As humans we don't really like any of those things, thats why some people stay in relationships for too long. They chose the discomfort in their life that is easiest.
Listen—I'm not saying that I think everyone should be alone and get 55 cats, but if you're into that, go ahead. I do, however, think that we should all spend time without searching and clinging.
So, how do you be single?
There is no to do list, or step by step process, but perhaps a way of learning to occupy your body and life in ways that make you feel alive, connected to yourself and happy. You learn how to process your feelings, even when it feels hard.
And I think most importantly, you take the time to learn who you are and how to like who you are.
You don't have to sit in the sadness forever, and you also don't have to always be on the hunt for the next person.
What are the things that you don't want to wake up when you're 87 years old and realize you didn't do them because you were always searching for your next person?
And it's not even truly just about that, it's about learning to appreciate your life without constantly needing to fill it with someone or something to be okay.
You get to decide what being single looks like to you. We are all going to have such a unique process. But I hope that you learn a little bit about who you are. I hope you do things for you. I hope you take that pole dancing class, or go to that yoga class, maybe read all those books you keep buying but don't actually read. Do what you need to do to be able to occupy your body, and your life with ease and a sense of wholeness that no relationship can ever fully give you.
Oh, and if you're wondering about the movie—first, you should really watch it right now. Even if you aren't single, because it's important. Second, this is a spoiler, you wait the whole movie to see if she'll pick a guy, and in the end she picks herself and begins to do the things she's always wanted to do.
I think that's what I'll do now too...