Monday, November 7, 2011

Oh to be brave...

I’m eating ramen noodles for breakfast.  Yes, the kind that cost about ten cents a package and deliver 33% of my RDA of sodium.  I could, and probably should, take the time to thaw out and toast an English muffin, poach an egg, slice up a bit of cheese and top it all with some fresh from the bag spinach, but I’m free to do as I please and this morning it pleases me to be lazy so beef flavored ramen it is.  

Why am I telling you about, and defending, my Monday morning breakfast choice?  The truth is that I am having more than a bit of trouble writing today’s blog post.  It isn’t that I don’t know what I want to write about, it’s that every time I start out writing it I begin to sound a little preachy and that simply is not the voice that I want to use.

My last blog post was about five things to not say to your spinster friends (i.e. those who have made the choice to remain happily single).  While all of these things, and more, have been said to me there is another phrase that I hear quite often.  It is a statement that I hear in one form or another with nearly the same amount of frequency and I am never quite sure how to respond to it in the moment when it is said.

“I love reading your blog and I wish I could be as brave as you.”

My immediate response is usually to express some sort of gratitude.  I write because I love to write, but I also love to have people actually read what I write.  It feels good to know that Spinster Jane is not only read but enjoyed.  Generally I can leave it at that, but lately I’ve wanted to follow up with asking just what it is that I am doing that they find so brave and why they can’t find that same thing within themselves.

Considering the topic of Spinster Jane, I can safely make the assumption that what most people find so brave is my decision to remain single and live alone.  While some of the people who are saying how brave they think I am are those who are wistfully remembering their carefree and single days before they happily paired themselves off (and I have had more than a few of the unhappily coupled mention it but that is a different blog post), what is confusing about the statement is that the majority of the women who are telling me how much they wish they could do what I do are predominantly single. 

When my coupled readers have expressed the sentiment about being brave enough, it is a bit easier to make sense of it.  One of my favorite singles bloggers, Bella de Paulo, Ph. D., recently wrote in her Single at Heart blog on Psych Central about how despite the negative stereotypes that many folks have about the single at heart, there is one thing that the non-singles find very appealing about the single life, and that is the freedom to live your life as you choose and I’m certainly not going to argue with this perception.  The fact is I do have the freedom to do what I want when I want (case in point…ramen for breakfast).  As with de Paulo I too can stay up late and allow myself to get lost in a creative project.    I like that I am free to choose when or if I want to spend time with those that I love.  I am certainly more free to assist a friend or family member in need should something arise and I am capable of helping.  There is a lot of freedom that I have because I have chosen to claim the title of spinster. 

However when it comes to the single ladies, what I think the issue becomes is that I am choosing to remain single, to live alone and to be HAPPY about it.  And yes, I can understand this too.  Everything in our culture pushes us to find one person, pair off and live happily ever after.  And yes, even with all of the progress we’ve made in women’s issues, if a woman is not paired off by a certain time then there must be something wrong with her.  She is unattractive or has too much baggage or she is too needy or she is frigid or she’s too picky, etc.   And finally, if a woman is not partnered off by an acceptable time then she should at the very least be unhappy about her state and be doing whatever it is she can to remedy it because to be single and seeking is more acceptable than to be single, not looking and be quite okay or even happy about it.

To those women who call me brave I have this to say.  If I have learned anything in my somewhat more than three decades of life, it is that there is one, and only one, thing that I have any control over in this world and that is me.   I can’t change in any way how the rest of the world perceives me.   There will likely always be people who think that my ‘problem’ is not having met the right person, or that I don’t laid enough, or I’m too driven in pursuing my goals and thus will miss out on the bliss that is marriage.  I can try my best to explain why these things are not true, and maybe I will change a mind or two which is a good thing,  but  in the end what really and truly matters is what I think of myself.  I simply will not allow my perception of myself and my life to be dictated by what others think I should be doing.  I’ve already passed what will be the half way point for most of us and life is too short to be spent trying to be something I’m not.

So, if being happy with my life the way it is and being unapologetic about it makes me brave then call me brave, and if sometime soon, maybe after reading this blog post, you find that upon taking a closer look that you too are living the life you want to lead and that you are happy about it, then you are certainly no less brave than I.   

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jane,
    I just stumbled upon your blog, and I've already got it listed in my reader to follow. First, let me say, "Bravo"! Living a life of your own choosing is something I wish more people would do. I applaud it!

    I happily spent the majority of my 20's and 30's single. Sure, I dated, but mostly, I just had fun creating my own life. I bought a sailboat called the Shady Lady (one of the best things I've ever done), and I assembled a crew of gal friends and had lots of lighthearted adventures. At 39, I happened to meet a guy (while I was happily climbing solo at a climbing gym) who shared a lot of my interests, and in time, I introduced him to sailing. He and I are now happily unmarried and childless by choice, and we've elected to follow a dream that we now both share: building a bigger boat and sailing around the world. I think the important element is choosing the life that works for you and being happy with the life you're creating--regardless of what it is you choose or how your life choices evolve over time. How terrible to view a whole section of your life as merely a prelude. I don't think there is anything wrong with being single by choice, or unmarried by choice, or childless by choice (another whole topic altogether!); the point is, we get to choose, and if other people are uncomfortable because we choose something that they didn't, that is their issue to work out--all that cognitive dissonance stuff that people have such a tough time with.

    Anyway, your blog is great, and I look forward to reading your future posts. If you can, please stop by my blog at It is also about living a life of my own design.

    All the best!