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I Am A Nigerian, A Woman, Single And Happy
I’m smiling as I write this, which is a good sign. I certainly had never expected to be single in my 30s. Still, I find myself remarkably happy most of the time. There are moments, of course, of frustration and grief over not having love, marriage and children. But I have come to realize that I’m happy despite the fact that my life did not turn out as expected. Here are some of the reasons why:
I’ve learned to forgive myself for being single.
I’ve made mistakes, I’m sure of it. In my 20s and early 30s, there were times when perhaps I wasn’t always mindful and sensitive to the men who courted me unsuccessfully. I also held on too long to men whom I courted who were not mindful of and sensitive to me. I painted a picture of what my life should look like, and tried to force another person into my picture because I believed he was the missing piece. I tried too hard. I held on too tightly. And it was never meant to be.
And at times, I didn’t try at all. I’d get tired of going to singles events without any dates to follow and so I’d opt out of the next event. I’d go to the movies with a girlfriend instead of a bar where I might meet someone new. And I’m sure my dates and friends from 10 and 20 years ago can point to other things I said or did, or thought was right, or believed was wrong... and I forgive myself.
We believe that after graduating college and getting a job and paying the rent and all the apparent milestones of adulthood, that we are fully ripened adults. And yet, at age 39, I think many of us can cringe at the immaturity we showed. 39 is when I began to feel humbled by life. I realized that while I may be the captain of my ship, the ocean rules. I have learned to forgive myself for ever believing I was the ocean.
I’ve learned to immediately forgive the men.
Everything is going great. He appears really into me and I’m charmed by what seems like his sincere charisma and attention. I eventually let down my guard and believe he’s genuine. He’s doing all the right things, after all. He calls when he says he will. He plans fantastic dates and makes me feel so appreciated. And I appreciate him. He’s unabashedly talking about how he’s waited for me all this time. “Where have you been all my life?” he asks. And so, after three dates, and a fourth set on the calendar, I breathe easy. He’s fun. He’s smart. He’s decisive. He’s generous and kind. And he’s into me. He likes me. He’s told me several times.
And then he breaks the date. He has to move it because [fill in the blank] and I say, “Of course, I understand. No, it’s not anything to do with us, I know. Yes, I believe you. Yes, sure, next week. You’ll call me. Great.”
And that’s the end of that.
And I let it go. Every time it happens — and it happens more often than I’d like to admit — I let it go. I remember how fortunate I am to have had those great dates, with a man who makes me feel special, and beautiful, smart and fun and... well it doesn’t really matter, does it? Because while the situation is disappointing, the reasons for the disappearances are irrelevant. It’s possible they have nothing to do with me. And if they do, it’s not anything I did that another man would think twice about. And I am grateful that these men didn’t just one day disappear further down and further in. So I move on.
I’ve learned that being single is not the same as being alone.
I can’t remember the last time I felt lonely. Sure, I’ve had summer weekends where I was home alone working on my next book or my business, when it felt like everyone else was at the beach. And I’ve spent my share of holidays preparing a three-course dinner, pouring myself a glass of wine, only to enjoy it all by myself. I’ve walked into an empty apartment after receiving incredible news, with no one there to greet me and hear about it first-hand. And I’ve been in a room full of people, feeling like I just want to be home, by myself.
But lonely, truly lonely, I haven’t felt in a long time. That’s because, as the saying goes, wherever I go, there I am. And I’ve got a full, rich life, one I’ve created for myself. It is by no means the life I expected to have at age 39, but it’s an abundant life in its own magnificent way. It’s a new kind of happiness I’m quite proud to have achieved and call my own.
In my 20s, I never imagined I wouldn’t be a mother in my 30s. In my late 20s, or at least until my early 30s, I never imagined I would be single by 39. But here I am, single and childless. And while I would be so grateful to find a for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of love (and with God’s help, motherhood) without delay, I’m right here and right now, single and in my thirties. I choose to accept and appreciate my extraordinary life, and continue to live my life to its greatest potential.
Of all the things I’ve learned about being single, this is what I know for sure: Love is still ahead of me and I won’t settle for anything less. And if I’m lucky, neither will he.
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