Why I Never Wanted to Write About Singleness in My 30s

Oh, the hundreds of seemingly similar conversations I’ve had surrounding this topic. The countless friends I’ve sat with and asked all the same questions over and over and over and over and over [you get the point] again. The tears, the disappointment, the sadness, the grief, really the loss of something. Really the loss of so many things. Things hoped for, dreams, longings and expectations — still left unfulfilled. 

I’ve been asked if I want this topic to be “my platform” as a writer. In the past, that question has always been met with a pretty immediate “no.”

Not for me. I didn’t want a platform, and I didn’t want to write about singleness in my 30’s for the masses to see my broken heart on display. That seemed, well, a little pathetic, don’t you think?  I’ve shared some of the depths of my heart in writing but when it came to my marital status, I wasn’t saying a word. In fact, I got to a place where I was tired of even bringing it up to friends anymore. Who could relate?

I’ve never been able to pinpoint why it’s so hard for me to put pen to paper on this subject. I think it’s more pride than anything. And, let’s be honest, a bit of shame. This topic is pretty unchartered territory. There aren’t a lot of books out there talking about singleness (not many good ones, at least). It seems you’re either one way or the other in the public sphere with the topic. You’re either really open and vocal and everyone knows where you stand, or you stay quiet, do your best to “be OK” and just don’t bring it up too often. No one wants to be that girl. Besides, who wants to hear a single girl talk about her sadness? Show me all the wedding photos and baby announcements but please, keep that stuff to yourself.

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Some of us have put up false walls of security in an effort to not look pathetic and the emotions of singleness have become a secret life.

But here’s what I’ve realized, and here’s why I’m writing this:

Singleness is not who you are, it’s where you are. And we’ve got to continue to fully show up there.

If we can’t be honest about where we are in this life, then what are we doing? You are not pathetic. It’s not a death sentence, a disease or something that makes you any less than your happily married friends who might have five children and be approaching their 10-year wedding anniversary.

Life is moving along really quickly these days. This year I’ve watched so many close friends who were “in it with me” for so long “cross over to the other side” and find their person. There’s a sense of renewed hope that’s stirred up in my soul every time I stand beside a dear friend on her wedding day.

At the same time, my heart breaks. It’s not a matter of not being happy for others but alongside that happiness, living right there in the same place in my heart, there’s still a very real, very deep sadness within that I’d be doing a dis-service to myself and the world if I neglected to mention.

If you’re single, I’m writing this for you…

I’m writing to tell you that it’s 100% OK to be sad about your today. It’s not what you would have chosen and, quite honestly, it’s really, really tough. There you go. I said it. I think I’ve decided to say it in case no one else does. Your hardship is valid, not pathetic.

You see, you don’t have to choose between being happy for others and tending to your own sadness. It’s not a way to live. If we neglect what’s happening in our own hearts, it will only be a matter of time before it catches up to us.

The reality is, I’m not God. I can’t promise your future or know if there is someone amazing coming your way in the days ahead, but what I do know is that life is way too brief to wait until that happens to start living. If you’re older, I’m sure you stopped doing that long ago. Take the trips, form deep friendships, make the move, buy the house, heck — buy the Vita-mix for crying out loud.

Go on random dates. Get to know people as humans without worrying if they’re The One right away. Relax. Allow yourself to be ok. Soak up the freedom. From what I hear, when it’s gone, well, it’s gone. Enjoy the amazing things life has to offer and most of all, give. Give to the people you love, give to your family, give to the needy, give to yourself, invest in the things you love… Give to make the world a little bit brighter.

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As you find joy in the everyday, it’s equally important to learn to embrace the feelings of sadness, hurt, disappointment, anger and confusion. Sit in these emotions. Cry. Ask a trusted friend if they’re up for sitting here with you for a little while. Talk it out, yell it out, do what you need to do. But don’t stay there. Give yourself a time frame, then get up, keep living your life, pursuing your dreams and loving the heck out of people. Those walls we’ve built up surrounding singleness? Well, we’ve got to create space to let them down.

As you live and move and love and celebrate others, let them love you back.

For the marrieds wondering how to love your single friends, I’m writing this for you…

It’s not as complicated as we’ve made it out to be. I always go back to one simple act. Acknowledgement. Ask your single friends this question, “How are you doing with singleness?”

Not once a year (not every day, either) but when you find time for a good catch up, when you get a sense that something is off, make it a point to ask and acknowledge this part of their heart. It will go a really long way, I promise. You may not be able to relate to their exact pain but what you can do is be present with them in it. Avoidance isn’t doing anyone any good.

When we avoid asking out of convenience, we give way to the lies that the emotions surrounding singleness are a burden to others or something to be ashamed of.

I believe acknowledgement is the key to so many things. When we take the pressure off of ourselves to have the answers or the quick-fix and take time to listen, allow our hearts to enter in and sit in the uncomfortable for a while, it makes all the difference. Listening is where love begins and avoidance is the culprit to letting assumptions get the best of us.

If we don’t ask or acknowledge, we’re not doing our part in relationships. 

I believe there’s balance in everything and I want to find that balance. I want to contribute to this conversation in a way that brings beauty, empathy, encouragement and understanding.

Here I am, writing about singleness for the first time. In an effort to put my pride aside, show up with my whole heart and remain true to where I am.

So. Who wants to hear a single girl talk about her sadness? Well, I do. Your pain is not your weakness. It’s actually what’s making you one really strong, incredible woman. Let the pain do its work in you, give yourself some grace, allow your emotions to co-exist and be honest with yourself and others about where you’re at along the way. 

Single friends, your pain is real. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. What might make you feel less than today is actually building more in you than you ever saw coming.

Don’t sell yourself short. Singleness is not a measure of who you are. Who you are is one incredible, strong, talented, amazingly whole person.

You are loved and you are certainly not alone.

Images via Kayla Gale

Leigh is a writer and installation artist newly residing in Nashville, TN. She also serves as Project Manager for BraveLove - a movement dedicated to changing the perception of adoption in the U.S. She has a passion for beauty and values time spent engaging with people.

14 COMMENTS
  • Emily O October 31, 2017

    Thank you. I literally have felt the same way… “I don’t want singleness in my thirties to be my platform”… and yet, I find, when I open my heart and share with the people who follow me on social media and my blog, its where I’ve found comfort. You find out you’re not so alone, that others feel the same way.

    I also love how you encourage non-singles to love and appreciate their single friends… its so important, sometimes, its easy to feel like we are a bother, and that’s unfair.

  • Kristin October 17, 2017

    Amen amen amen. I love this Leigh, I love your whole heartedness, it’s so beautiful because it is so rare. I admire your courage and bravery to be honest and how you wrote about showing up exactly where we are. It’s not who we are but being honest about where we are showing up to that. That applies to so much. If we can be honest about what hurts we can address it and work to heal it and persist. I hope men and women all over are as encouraged by this conversation starter as I am. Honored to know you friend.

  • Stacy October 16, 2017

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. These are words I really needed to read today, which would have been my 7th anniversary with my partner, whom I was supposed to marry. Learning to live in this new place of life has been difficult, and hearing others’ stories and perspectives is comforting.

  • Laura October 16, 2017

    Wow. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s not often that this subject is voiced. For so long I listened to voices that said marriage was hard, parenting was hard, so I should be thankful for this season of singleness. While I believe I should be grateful, I certainly don’t know what it’s going to be like when this season ends, it added a lot of shame and guilt to the what I was feeling and even made me think I shouldn’t really dream about something that is so hard. Validation is important. Thank you for making me feel valid right where I am.

  • Tia Truthteller October 16, 2017

    Leigh, I applaud your courage in finally sharing your feelings. I feel if the culture has conditioned us for the eventual role of wife, why should we feel shame when it looks like it’s not going to happen -at least not in the time frame we expected?

    I hear your advice to ask the question, but personally, I’m scared I might offend, if my single friends don’t bring it up themselves. Like you said, it’s a touchy subject. If they did, I’d be so willing to listen to their hearts speak. As a woman, I get it. We’re pre-wired for relationships.

    It might sound crazy, but I also feel I’m doing my part by raising my young sons in a family with a positive experience of marriage. I teach them the importance of chivalry. I’m trying to impress on them the need to consider what’s important to others even if it’s inconsequential to them because that’s key to making others feel loved. (And apologize when you’re in the wrong!) I guess you could say I’m fighting back by conditioning them to be good husbands one day!

  • Leanne October 16, 2017

    Thank you for giving words to this topic. Appreciate the rawness and real emotions. Thank you for making me feel less alone.

    • Leigh Liebmann October 16, 2017

      Wow Leanne. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m so grateful to hear this made you feel less alone! That is the goal. You are not alone. Remember that! Much love.

  • Holly October 15, 2017

    Thank you. Thank you for being brave enough to speak. Your words are exactly what I needed to hear right now. I need to learn to embrace the emotions instead of shutting them out.

  • Ashley October 15, 2017

    This. Spot on. I’m truly happy for all of my friends that are in that next stage of life, yet can’t help but wonder when it’s my turn. In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on self care and enjoying the freedom!

  • Erin Marie October 14, 2017

    This article was incredible. From one fabulous single queen to the other, thank you for sharing.

  • Laura October 14, 2017

    Whoa. Not sure I’ve ever read an article that resonates more richly for this season. Thank you for the courage you had in writing and posting it. This has been on my heart, and mind, for years and it’s hard to find the place to share it. I just read “Living life without a better half,” which is the best book I’ve read (mostly about learning faithfulness, but written to singles), and found it very refreshing. As a single wedding planner (of 8 years), the irony is thick each morning, and it’s hard to withstand the temptation to put on the mask of “okayness”.

    Thanks for digging up the gumption to share.

    • Anonymous October 14, 2017

      Is the book you read called living whole without a better half, or living life? Sounded interesting, but when I googled it all I found was a religious teachings book of sorts. Thanks.

      • Laura October 16, 2017

        So sorry! Living whole without a better half is correct. It’s by Wendy widder is the author.

  • I love the illustrations! Who is the illustrator, may I ask?

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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