Growing up, I felt an undeniable pressure to be in a relationship. No matter how well I was doing at school or my job, no matter how many friends I had, if I wasn't in a relationship, my life felt like it lacked validity. Because of patriarchal norms, society has systematically taught young women that if they aren't seeing anyone, there's something wrong with them. But good news: there are plenty of benefits of being single.
The past two years of my life have been my happiest, and I've been single AF. During my time alone, I lived abroad, worked in fashion, and made some incredibly strong friendships. I also moved on from an abusive relationship, changed my college major a few times, and went on a road trip with my best friends. Long gone are the days where being single means you're doing something wrong with your life.
Whether you've been single for two days, two years, or if you've never not been alone, there's a lot of freedom to be had when you aren't tied to anyone — and every woman should experience it at least once. Here are all the important lessons you'll learn when you don't have a significant other.
1. There's No Time Limit On Experiences
When you're single, it's easy to believe that all of your friends are coupled up and getting engaged, married, or having children. But, when you're busy doing other things like traveling around the world or getting that promotion at work, you learn that there's no time stamp on experiences. You don't need to be married by a certain age and you're not falling behind in life just because your best friend is pregnant with her second child and you're not in a steady relationship.
2. Your Friendships Are Just As Loving
You know that your friends are important, but when you're single, you tend to appreciate them even more than when you're in a relationship. You spend more time with them and you realize that their love, although different than romantic love, is still strong and fulfilling. This is important to remember when you're no longer single and have to split your time between them and your partner.
3. People Close To You Still Want To Hear From You
As you get older, you rely on mom and dad less and less. When you're single, you may not think you have much to tell your mom since she's probably not interested in your new TV show obsession. But, even though you don't have relationship news, your mom (and other important people in your life) still wants updates on everything else that's happening. Call her and let her know exactly why she needs to start watching Orange Is The New Black.
4. You Never Have To Settle
Being single means being in charge of everything that you do. You don't need to settle for takeout because your partner doesn't feel like going out and you don't need to settle for that goofball your friends keep trying to set you up with. You're in charge of your life and you never have to choose to be less than happy.
5. You Can't Control Other People
You'll probably learn this lesson over and over again throughout life, but when you're single, you learn that the only path you can truly control is your own. You can't make someone fall in love with you no matter how sick of being single you are. You can't control that you're always the bridesmaid and never the bride. The only thing you can control is how you react to other people.
6. You Don't Need A Relationship To Feel Fulfilled
When you're single, you search for different outlets beyond a relationship to find happiness in your life. Luckily, you'll find that you don't have to look too far. Friendships, family, pets, hobbies, and your career can all be sources of satisfaction and you'll realize that a life without a partner isn't a life without love.
7. You Can Handle Anything
Your problems are your own when you're single, and you learn how to face them. When you're the sole decision maker in your life, you learn to stop doubting yourself. Whether it's that presentation at work or the spider crawling around your room — it's your job to kill it.
8. Your Wounds Will Heal
It's possible that even though you're single now, you haven't always been. Maybe you went through a difficult breakup and swore off dating for a while. Whether or not this is true for you, being single will teach you that time does in fact heal wounds. When you're spending time on loving yourself and your life, the pain you endured in the past starts to fade. Bonus: getting over a breakup means you can listen to any Taylor Swift breakup song on repeat and no one can judge you for it.
9. Being Single Can Be A Phase Or A Way Of Life
Everyone is different and some people are only solo temporarily, while others truly are perpetually single. What being single teaches you is that both of these options are completely valid. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being single whether it's just for a pitstop between partners or for the long haul. Your worth isn't defined by your significant other or lack thereof.
So, if you're single and wish you were in a relationship, that's OK. Just remember how wonderful single life can be and try your best to celebrate the strength and independence that comes with it.