There are enough people in this world who are going to try to tell you how to live your life, but if you're a single woman, that number seems to double. Everyone has opinions about your single-hood — whether it's the reasons behind it, the "solutions" they have for it, or some projection of their own feelings about their relationship or lack thereof. I'm personally not here to tell you how to live your life. To risk leaning into a cliché, but leaning hard into it anyway, you are wholly capable of living a fulfilling, exciting, awesome life with or without a partner. Maybe you have felt that in your heart for a long time, and maybe you are just coming around to it, but for the purposes of this article on resolutions for single women, I cannot reiterate it enough.
Maybe you want to find someone in 2017. Maybe you don't. Ultimately, that's the kind of path you decide for yourself, no matter what the peanut gallery has to say — and ultimately, both decisions are an awesome one. So when I make this list of resolutions for single women, I have been very careful not to get in the way of either of those mindsets. In fact, these resolutions have nothing to do with dating at all. These resolutions are all about your happiness, your growth, and expanding your opportunities this coming year.
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Nothing is too obvious or too small to put on this list. Every little moment you were proud of at work, whether or not it went acknowledged; any event that brought you joy, whether it was one of your own or of someone you care about; every personal revelation you made, whether or not it led to any significant change. Then take a step back and look at this list of all the little things that meant enough to you that you still held onto them at the end of the year. These are the things that define you — the questions you're still answering, the hopes you harbor, the people you love.
Now take what you learn from that, and use it to maximize those moments of joy and discovery and pride by focusing your commitments there — whether it means calling home more often, making more time for a passion project at work, or pursuing a new hobby that that thrills you. Make 2017 about chasing the things that make you happy, and nobody else.
Whether this means journaling, meditating, or going on a run, plan for that time and do what you must to protect that time. We're never going to have control over our lives, but in the moments when it is most glaringly apparent just how much of it is up in the air, you're going to want to face it in as grounded of a place as possible. So yes, you will cry when you're sad, and shake when you're angry, and react in all the normal, human ways we are prone to reacting when things turn out of our favor — but at least if you take that time to check in with yourself, to understand what eats at you and makes you anxious before something blows up in your face, you'll be able to name those feelings. You'll be able to see them a bit more clearly, know yourself more thoroughly, and spare yourself some of the angst it takes to get there.
Maybe you already have one, and maybe you don't. Maybe you feel like you don't even need one. But budgeting isn't just about saving money, so much as it is about taking care of yourself, and understanding more about what your priorities are. When you save more money than what is necessary for your emergency fund, what is it for? Is it for traveling? Is it for a specific item or person? Is it for a family you might want someday, or for a sense of security further down the line? When you put your savings away, don't just put it in something called "Savings" — label the folder something specific, whether it's for your retirement (it's never too early to start saving!), for a trip, or for a property you want to buy. It will make the goal all the more worth saving toward, when you can envision it every time you sacrifice for it.
Figure out a time you'll be the least busy at work, and request time off in advance. Then take that Groupon to Iceland, that writer's retreat in the woods, that trip home to go see your parents and just hang without the madness of the holidays or work obligations. Stop wistfully thinking of "that thing you're going to do someday," and make a plan to do it. Will you feel slightly ridiculous asking your boss in January for days off in October to go to Comic Con? Absolutely. But you will also feel hella good about knowing you have something to look forward to all year, something that will bring you that much closer to figuring out what brings you real joy.
Maybe you already do this all the time, and maybe the idea makes you balk. Do it anyway. Go see a movie. Take a train to another town. Go to that niche restaurant all your friends were too iffy about to try with you, and sit in a cozy table by the window. Even if it's as simple as going to a coffee shop with a good book for a little while, spend some deliberate, no strings attached time with yourself, doing only what you want to do.
Better yet, let someone else decide what it is, so you don't have the chance to hedge around and give up on it before it even starts. Learn to julienne vegetables, or how to replace the oil in your car, or how to knit, or how to carve adorable little penguins out of blocks of wood. Find some new dimension of yourself, even if that dimension of yourself turns out to really, really hate reading massive novels about revolutionary France. You never know when your new knowledge might come in handy — if not to help yourself, then to help a friend, or even a stranger. You'll end up unintentionally expanding the borders of your world a little bit each time.
Or, y'know — just "no," or "hell no," or whatever kind of "no" the situation merits, whether it’s in the literal sense of “no, I don’t want to do this,” or a more figurative sense of removing yourself from a conversation or situation that makes you uncomfortable. Make your own feelings and time a priority to yourself. At the very least, tell someone who is asking something of you that you need a moment to think — sometimes our impulse is to say no right off the bat to something we might actually want to do, and if that's what you're afraid of, there is absolutely no harm in telling people you need time to consider something. Make your decisions wholly and comfortably and, most importantly, under your own influence and yours alone.
Call your parents. Actually propose a time for those drinks with your friend. Ask your siblings about their jobs. Check on your pals from grade school. Ask for everyone's current address. Answer back in the group text. The next time somebody who matter to you calls, don't just let it go to voicemail — pick up. You have more time than you think, but it is limited. Make the most of it.
Don't apologize for being single. Don't apologize for being happy that you're single. Don't apologize for being unhappy that you're single. Don't apologize for looking for love, and don't apologize for not being interested in it. Don't apologize for the way you choose to look for love, or the kind of partner you want for yourself. Don't apologize for being "too picky" or "not picky enough".
OK, I lied a little bit; that last resolution does have to do with dating. But I don't apologize for that, either — because it goes far beyond dating, and applies across the board. Don't apologize for pursuing the things you love, for spending your time the way you spend it, for feeling the way that you feel. Be mindful of your choices and how they affect the people around you, of course; but so long as you aren't hurting anyone, don't apologize for the good things that define you and the things that bring you joy just because they don't align with everybody else's.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
Comics: Alyssa Foote/Bustle
Images: Hannah Burton/Bustle