Getting Real: 27 & Single

I did it. I finally pulled the trigger and did it. I was standing in the kitchen aisle at Target and was staring it down. “Did I want it? Yes. But could I have it? Was it right? Could I grant myself the permission for this?” Enough was enough. I put the box in the cart and wheeled my way toward the checkout. I finally bought my own Kitchen Aid Mixer. For some this isn’t a big deal, but in my world this was huge. Somewhere along the way, in my mind, the mixer became equated with wedding gifts. You know those really nice items you’ve always wanted but wouldn’t afford yourself until it’s on a registry? This mixer was one of those items. I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore. It was a Sunday. I drove straight to Target and bought it for myself. Because let’s be real, I’m now the girl not in my mid-20s, but my late 20s, and who wants to wait another unknown amount of time? Not me, so forget the registry, I’ll put it on the VISA. (That and after a recent end to a relationship, there was some odd solace in finding rebound in expensive kitchen appliances.) If you’re sad about a recent end to relationship, come on over, and I’ll hand you a delicious homemade muffin (made from my mixer).

But it’s not just the mixer, really. I have the townhome, furniture, white plates, and the washer and dryer. The only thing that’s missing- the man to complete the picture.

As I write this, I’m aware of the comments, thoughts and inner dialogue that might be going on in your head. I don’t write this sad or in a depressed state. Far from it, actually. I realize that in my community there are many powerful, beautiful, and incredible single women older than myself. But more than anything, I want to tell you that I just expected my life to be different by now. I never thought that I would be the person who was 27 and single. At this point, I thought my life would look quite different. I thought I’d be saving for an adoption, co-leading a ministry somewhere, or running a studio with my spouse. We’d be creative, powerful, and influencers in our city. We’d have the house that everyone gathers at, filled with hope, light, peace, and a lot of love.

Yet, my life looks quite different from the picture I just described above. I still have the house where community gathers, amazing roommates to share my days with, and great adventures along the West Coast to fill my holidays and weekends. I love my life, as different as it is from my expectations.

I’m aware many of my friends who are reading this are married (Yay! We love you, and you’re awesome), and some of you have been for a while. Can I remind you of a few things?

You love your spouse. That’s great. You should. Make sure to spend some time with your friends as well.

You know those people who stood beside you on your wedding day in matching dresses or the people that held you after a rough day as you processed and cried, prior to your spouse? Don’t think that they wouldn’t love a night out with you occasionally or to chat sometime. Somewhere along the line, there’s this idea that you have to switch over to all “married” or “couple” friends. I get it. It happens. Remember when you were single and this drove you crazy? Your single friends are awesome and great. They probably don’t even get awkward around a bunch of married couples at a gathering. It might be refreshing over those functions they’re invited to that feel more like a meat market than having a good time with friends.

Don’t put a ceiling on someone’s ability and destiny based on a marital status.

There are no classes of people based on marriage or singleness. There isn’t a lesser destiny given to someone because they aren’t married. I’ve noticed this idea perpetuates among faith-based circles or the church far more than we might like to acknowledge. Please don’t feel the need to cripple the calling or purpose on someone else’s life just because there isn’t a ring on his/her finger. Some of the kindest, most gifted people I know are single. They do ministry, lead themselves and others incredibly well.

Love people. Don’t assume they’re less lovely because they aren’t married.

Maybe it’s because I’m from the South, but I’ve found that once you reach a certain age you’re expected to be dating someone seriously, engaged, or married. If you’re of that age and aren’t dating someone, it’s assumed there must be something seriously wrong with you. You may have some incredible people in your life who are older than 27 and single. They may not want it to be this way. Meeting the right person has just yet to happen for them. Don’t assume less of someone based on their singleness.

For all the single ladies (and fellas) out there.

There’s nothing wrong with you and it’s not your fault.

The last relationship may have not worked out. You are enough and can be true to yourself. Love who you are right in this moment. The time will come. When it does, it will be great and glorious. Sometimes in relationships, the chips fall where they may. It’s okay. You may have had a part to play in it, but ultimately you’re living life without time wasted in something that wouldn’t work. Remember…

In the whole relationship game, none of us really know what we’re doing.

Bottom line, every relationship is different. Sometimes you just don’t know. Your heart never intends to hurt people, for things to remain unrestored; yet sometimes, it just happens. Learn to forgive, move on, and don’t let bitterness settle in. People aren’t out to get you, and until you meet Mr. Right, you’ll encounter a lot of Mr. Not-Quite-Rights. Sometimes until you put yourself out there, you won’t know if it will work or not. Give yourself and others grace as you figure out relationships. Because really, we all have no idea what we’re doing.

Don’t be the bitter friend at the wedding.

Sometimes your life can feel like the movie 27 Dresses (or suits). It’s not. Learn to celebrate your friends, the new phases they’re entering in, and don’t become a bitter Betty. Instead of focusing on what isn’t, focus on celebrating your friends, and loving them well into their next phase of life. They’ll do the same for you when it’s your time. Learn to celebrate now, and you’ll have friends to celebrate through a lifetime of seasons with you. Raise a glass, cut a rug, and party like it’s 1989.

You are permitted to dream. Dream on friend.

It is completely normal to look forward to and dream about your spouse. It’s okay to acknowledge the attractiveness in another person. There’s nothing wrong with this. Caution your heart in not taking this too far. If you have your wedding colors and his wardrobe picked out, but aren’t dating anyone, stop. Seriously, it’s weird. But at the same time, it’s normal and healthy to look forward to the days you will have someone to share and build a life with. Vision, goals, and hope keep us moving forward. There’s no reason this shouldn’t apply to the area of relationships as well.

Remember the right thing in the wrong time, is the wrong thing.

In my community, this is a phrase we use often. Timing can be everything. Timing for you, timing for them, and timing for the smelly leftovers still sitting in the back of your fridge. Commitment and love never comes out of force or pressure. Patience in this is key. I get it. You’re not in late adolescence anymore. You live in your own place, are financially independent, and have worked in a career for over 5 years. The right one will come along. The process may not be perfect, but it is wonderful. Trust yourself, trust your heart, and trust that timing will be made right.

Having successful relationships isn’t dependent on being married.

There are countless times where I have felt that my relationships were a failure. I struggle with feeling connected to people, transition, and having those “forever” friends. I’ve moved a lot, had my nomad phase, and have pressed the “restart button” multiple times in my twenties. Having consistent people to rely on has been a challenge when I left the artificial constructs I had lived in or the situations of circumstantial friendship. Because of this, I value and treasure the quality people in my life. I hold onto them. You know those kinds of friends? They’re the ones you keep up with for years and years or have the grace to pick up where you left off. One of my greatest fears is to feel that I’ve failed in my relationships. I hate when things feel unresolved or unnecessarily severed. May I remind you something? You are successful in your relationships when they are healthy. This has nothing to do with your marital status. You can give and receive love freely as you grow in loving yourself, sacrificing for those around you, and giving generously. This is successful far beyond an “I do” and leaves a legacy of people feeling safe, loved, and free when they are in your presence. This is invaluable.

Permit yourself to do the things you never thought you do.

Maybe for you there are a lot of dreams you’ve put on hold until you’re married. Can I tell you something? For some of us, it’s time to go claim that dream. Maybe it’s something huge. You want to travel Europe. Why wait for a honeymoon with your honey to make it happen? Get a group of friends, start saving, and plan a trip. Maybe you’re ready to take the jump and start your small business. Write out a plan, educate yourself, and make the risk. Maybe you really want to be active and get fit. Don’t wait for your husband to have a running partner. (That and his legs may be crazy long, making it challenging to set pace anyway.) Go find one! And maybe, just maybe, you’re like me. You don’t afford yourself the simple luxuries, like a Kitchen Aid mixer, because somewhere along the road you learned that Kitchen Aid mixers only belong on wedding registries.

Don’t wait. Get up and run to Target. 

Have thoughts on dating, relationships, and singleness? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.

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