Last time Beyoncé told you to proudly “put your hands up” while “Single Ladies” roared through the speakers, were you loving it, or were you thinking, “I’m so over this song, and I’m so over being single”? If the latter is true, and this particular brand of “over it” applies to you, it’s time you got a little reminder that . . . #YOSO.
Yes, I ripped this from the popular phrase YOLO—You Only Live Once (so live life fully)—because I believe it can be applied to the single life as well. I call it YOSO—You’re Only Single Once (so embrace it while it lasts).
As someone who has been in and out of multiple relationships, I’m familiar with the feeling of dread when one comes to an end. You instantly think, “I’m back to square one,” and wonder where to go next. After each breakup, I’m faced with three options: I could (a) wallow in self pity, (b) rebound and search for the next available fling, or (c) propel myself forward by learning from my past and diving into new experiences. I’ve found that option C is the most rewarding choice and one that has brought me lasting satisfaction through my single days.
Singleness is not a disease waiting for a cure. Beyoncé says that girls, all girls, “run the world”—not just girls in relationships. I’ve found that a thriving single lifestyle certainly has plenty of value worth celebrating. Here are a few tricks to turn any single woes into single bliss.
#YOSO—so make commitments!
Perhaps your vision of a single lady is one who is more interested in whetting her palate with different vintages than committing to just one bottle. There’s nothing wrong with trying new things, including getting to know a variety of men, before jumping into a serious relationship. But a thriving single life isn’t synonymous with noncommittal behavior.
In the past year, I’ve moved three times, held two different jobs, never scheduled plans more than a week in advance, and rarely ever frequented the same bar or coffee shop twice. After a while my life with no commitments became draining and unsettling. Slowly I realized that sticking with something teaches discipline and brings a spirit of perseverance to my relationships. Here are some ways I sought out commitment:
Learn a new hobby. Creativity has its way of flourishing when given the time and space to do so. After each major transition, I found my creative outlet through writing songs on the piano, picking up a paintbrush, and scribbling poetry. I’ve always wanted to learn guitar, so I spent some nights plucking away at that as well. Find your niche, and discover new ones.
Become a member of a church or volunteer group. I was a devout vagabond every Sunday, popping by various churches at different times depending on when my alarm went off. That is, until I learned the value of becoming a member of a community. Whether it’s a church or volunteer group, joining a community that rallies around a shared mission brings with it a sense of belonging and purpose.
Book a trip. Nothing can replace the mix of freedom and excitement I felt when I booked a flight to Italy for a four-month stay. I had no idea what to expect, but I committed to diving into the unknown. Commit yourself to something, even if you’re not quite sure what the outcome may be. Don’t let fear keep you from getting out there. Even alone, travel is a rewarding experience.
#YOSO—so become a healthier you!
When the main company I keep at home is myself, it can be tempting to pick up Chipotle for the third night in a row, procrastinate on the laundry, or drain the late-night hours with Netflix. My wake-up call was when I realized that a third of my meals were Clif bars on-the-go. It was time to get my life in gear. I needed to learn healthy habits in order to give more to my current and future relationships:
Eat well and exercise. This past year, I hit the gym and signed up for a personal trainer. I wanted to challenge myself and learn more about my body’s health while having someone to keep me accountable. Without needing to invest in a gym or trainer, making healthy daily choices that meet your body’s basic needs will have a huge impact on your mood and energy for the rest of the day.
Learn how to be financially savvy. You may only have to worry about your own wallet, but start building good saving and spending habits now, especially because finances are the leading cause of stress between couples. I decided to open a separate account just for charity money, which has helped me manage my personal spending.
Organize your space. Studies show that creating some sense of organization in your home, school or office, and even your mind can improve your happiness and decrease your stress levels. You don’t need to wait for your first house to decorate or host company. Find a spot to “nest,” and make it your own.
#YOSO—so keep learning!
As soon as I stepped into the “real world,” I was hit with so many different messages from all angles that I nearly toppled off my already shaky moral and intellectual foundation. I realized how little I actually know and how much there is to learn. Chancellor Linda Katehi of the University of California said, “When it comes to being an architect of change, I don’t know of any more effective blueprint than education.” As young adults and singles, we hold a lot of power. How we are educated will shape the future of our society. Because grad school wasn’t in my plans, I’ve taken to these means of continued learning:
Read and listen to podcasts. There are hundreds of books and free podcasts online on just about every subject you can imagine. I personally enjoy listening to TED Talks and reading novels on people who inspired change throughout history. I also stay up-to-date on current events via the news and social media, so I am ready to hop into any type of conversation throughout the day.
Attend lectures. You don’t need to enroll in a school to attend a class. There are plenty of lectures on university campuses that are free and open to the public. Many universities now offer online classes free of charge to anyone interested in getting some of the college education perks without the price tag.
Become cultured. Take a break from the concert and bar scene, and delve into the classics. Spend a weekend at the museum, attend a play performance, or visit the history museum. Immersing yourself will give you a greater appreciation for all different cultures.
#YOSO—so cultivate relationships!
Romantic relationships take up time. When you’re single, your time is your own. One of the positives of managing your time on your own terms is that you’re more available to your family and friends:
Spend time with your family. Being the youngest and only remaining single member in my family may be a pain at family reunions and weddings when I look like the awkward seventh wheel, but it has its perks as well. For example, I have the freedom to fly to Colorado to visit my brother any time I want, and I can have weekly dinners complete with uninterrupted conversations with my parents.
Invest more in your friends. I love giving and receiving little notes and gifts, and I don’t need a significant other to do so. It can be fun to take the extra step in your friendships beyond the typical coffee meet-up. Write them a letter, surprise them with their favorite candy, or give them a call just to check in. Investing in others will give you a sense of graciousness of how loved and accepted you really are.
We’re not made to just survive singlehood but rather to thrive. Ditch the mentality that singleness is like an oversize scratchy sweater that doesn’t quite fit, and settle in to this purposeful time of exploration. The opportunities are endless. And if you ever need a little encouragement to savor these single moments, turn on Beyoncé, and throw your hands up. After all, you’re only single once. #YOSO.
Photo Credit: Shannon Lee Miller