I spent most of my first 27 years single and don’t feel like I missed out
Did skip quite a bit of drama, according to my school friends.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I’m somehow reminded of the day I would feel a bit more lonely than any other day in the year.
I only started dating at 21, and even then my first relationship quickly fizzled out in a short month. Effectively, I spent the first 27 Valentine’s Days of my life alone and this bothered me more than I dared to admit.
Part of me always wanted to get attached. Even the numerous relationship horror stories my classmates confided, from emotional roller coasters to experiences with cheating and heartbreak, could not dampen my enthusiasm towards love as a hopeless romantic.
In the lead-up to every Valentine’s Day each year, I remember making preparations to give gifts to all my single friends of the opposite sex.
While I would say this was to ensure all my friends don’t feel lonely on the most “romantic” day of the year, it was honestly just my way to take the focus off my own loneliness.
Singlehood does get lonely, especially in a world that tends to glamorise love. But I do not regret spending all that time alone.
In hindsight, I’m really thankful I had so much time to figure out who I wanted to be as a person, before I tried to find someone to be with.
The space to find my life’s direction
One of the main reasons why I was hesitant to look for a partner earlier on was because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life.
I found it difficult to look for someone to journey alongside in life then because I was unsure of my life goals, such as where I wanted to live and work.
During my undergraduate years, my career ambitions changed a couple of times, as did the major I was studying. By the time I graduated, an opportunity to work at a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in India surfaced, which I excitedly took up.
Uprooting myself to spend half a year working abroad was not something I could have done easily if I was in a committed relationship. After all, I was in India to explore the option of working there long-term and it would have felt unfair to leave a partner with such uncertainty about our future for so long.
Although my hopes of landing a career in the NGO field did not eventually materialise, my experience in India exposed me to communications work and I eventually got a job as a writer back home in Singapore.
So while living alone in a foreign land was an especially lonely time in my life, I did appreciate how being single at the time let me pursue my dreams and eventually find my own way forward.
The time to make lasting friendships
Another thing I got to do because I was single for so many years was to make a lot of friends.
Research says it takes about 100 hours to make a friend, and I found it easy to hit that number, especially in university when I did not have a “designated partner” to eat with.
Aside from the benefit of having a larger dating pool to eventually choose from, this extended social network of my coursemates also helped when I entered the working world as several of my friends were in similar industries that I could work with.
The closest friendships I have were also formed before I got attached. These were a few other guys who I was somewhat close to while growing up, and hanging out with them more before I got attached was probably one of the best decisions in my life.
These guys became my closest friends, looking out for each other in our down days. I only found out after returning from India that they had scheduled to take turns keeping in touch with me to make sure I was doing okay.
When I eventually got into a relationship at 27 years and had less time to meet these friends, the strong foundation we built beforehand helped our friendship endure.
We continued to provide constant support and encouragement to each other, especially when things got tough in our love lives.
Singlehood is a season all of us will go through for at least a time in life. And though it’s always easy to idealise the grass on the other side, every season has opportunities that can be appreciated.
So don’t spend this entire life stage longing for the next one. Take this precious time to forge lifelong friendships, chase your dreams with abandonment, and get at least a rough idea of the direction you want your life to head.
Because when you know where you want to go, it becomes a lot easier to identify a partner heading the same way.