by Doreen Marion Gee –
A child of the ’50s, I was raised in a time when the definition of success for a woman was getting a man and that ring on her finger. Fortunately, half a century has brought a seismic attitude shift, opening up a world of opportunities for women and avenues for fulfilment in their lives. One of those is savouring life as a single person. With choice comes power.
“You’re going to be an old maid,” snapped my brother when I was only 17, rather shy, and still boyfriend-less. We have come a long way since an era when that sinister term defined a woman’s worth solely in terms of whether she could snag a guy. Over 50 years, as women gained a foothold in the areas of higher education, employment and career development, their standing in the world became more tied to personal achievements. The steady empowerment of women is the direct result of increased choices in their lives, with multiple definitions of, and paths to, success. With more options on the table, they are more likely to choose the right one. Being in a romantic relationship is only one of many ways to be fulfilled. Plus, many women nowadays balance the benefits of a relationship and work. The sky is the limit!
“More people are single than ever before, and for many, it’s a joy” reveals the author of I don’t yearn for someone to complete me (2018): Why more women are staying single (www.abc.net.au.). For one woman interviewed: “coupledom is not the end goal. I’m just very happy in my world … and I don’t yearn for someone to complete me,” debunking one misconception. Other stereotypes about single people, such as being miserable and lonely, “are either grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong” states U.S. social scientist, Bella DePaulo, (quoted in the article), who believes that “it is more possible than ever before to live a full, complete and meaningful life as a single person.”
After years of marriage, I now enjoy being blissfully alone. Paradoxically, the biggest benefit for me of going “solo” is that my world has expanded and become much richer! I now have more friends than ever before in my life – both men and women – and am actively involved in the community. Along the way, I learned that “alone” does not mean “lonely.” There is always a downside, though, such as struggling to get the top off a jar by myself and wishing there was a rent-a-guy service! Or when couples gawk at me like I just rocketed in from Jupiter when I sit in a restaurant by myself. Sometimes it is not easy being a “one” in a world of “twos.”
For many local women, the perks of going solo are immeasurable. “I very much like the idea that when I lock that door I can do anything I want,” remarks Cheryl Young.
Devorah Stone offers a wry twist on the single lifestyle: “I can cook up whatever I like, whatever way I like it, and if it doesn’t work, I’m the only one who needs to eat it!”
On the other hand, many women relish the sweet rewards of a committed relationship: “We stayed together because our marriage was built up on loving and caring for each other” reflects Geraldine Bruckel. “‘Happy’ is different for every woman!”
We need to change the zeitgeist. Let’s ditch the archaic notion that a woman is not enough in and of herself and needs to be attached to someone else to be a whole person. Maybe we should be teaching young girls that it is okay to be alone, and that there is no right or wrong when it comes to living your life. The possibilities are endless.