Guest Writer: Emily Cook
How is it that song lyrics can perfectly sum up our feelings?
Okay, maybe not all song lyrics. Personally, I’ve never been able to emotionally relate to the lyrics “Jigeumbuteo gal dekkaji gabolkka, Oppa Gangnam Style” (although this may be because I don’t understand Korean). But some songs just seem to speak directly to me. “22” by Taylor Swift resonates with me a lot at the moment…and not just because I’ve just celebrated my 22nd birthday…
As I’m sure you know by now, this blog series (and isn’t it brilliant by the way?!) is all about singleness and relationships. So, where am I at with this stuff? I’m single. I have been for a while. Does it bother me? My automatic answer is no, I’m fine with it; I have such a crazily busy life that I wouldn’t have time for a boyfriend anyway. To an extent, this is true. But it is also a bit of a defensive answer. I’m going to be completely honest; a big part of me is massively bothered by the fact that I haven’t been in a relationship since my teenage years. My feelings about being 22 and single are mixed. To quote Taylor Swift, I feel “happy, free, confused, and lonely”, often all at the same time.
I know I don’t need a boyfriend to make me happy. There is so much in my life which makes me happy already. I have a fantastic family, the best friends anyone could ask for, and better still, I have a relationship with a God who loves me so much that he sent His Son to die for me. What more could I want?
Well, actually, a boyfriend would be nice too, please! I hate it when I think in this way; when I start to focus on what (or who!) I don’t have, I begin to lose sight of all the amazing people I do have in my life and I don’t ever want to take these people for granted. When I start to feel worthless and rubbish because I don’t have a boyfriend, I am reminded that God’s love satisfies me better than any other love ever could. This gives me incredible joy.
One thing I really value is the freedom of singleness. Over the last few years, not having the distraction of a boyfriend has allowed me to focus on my degree, my work, my volunteering, and all sorts of other amazing things. Most importantly, it’s given me time to develop some very special friendships; I haven’t had the dilemma of having to get the friend-boyfriend balance right, and for that I am grateful. Without wanting to sound selfish, I’ve also had the time and freedom to focus on myself. My early adult years have thrown some pretty tough situations at me, and as result, I ended up neglecting myself. I’ve learnt that you need to learn to look after yourself and love yourself before you’re in a position to look after someone else and let them love you.
I often wonder why I’m still single. But not in an egocentric way. You see, the thing is, being a young adult and being single was never part of my life plan. I had my whole life planned out. I assumed that I would have met the love of my life by the time was 18, we’d get married a few years later, have a couple of kids, and boom, my life would be sorted. So far, things haven’t turned out that way; for a start, the love of my life is 4 years late! Getting married and having kids are things that I have always wanted, and still really want to have in my life. But I don’t want to force them to happen. I sometimes worry “what if these things never happen for me?” Then I kick myself because I’m getting hung up on ‘what ifs’ and missing what is happening in my life right now.
As I get older, increasingly more of my friends are getting deeper into serious relationships (it probably won’t be long until I start hearing about impending weddings and babies). I’m not bitter or resentful. I am genuinely excited for them. But I always feel a niggling sadness that I have no special someone in my life to make future plans with. When I see couples snuggling up together at the cinema, or walking through the streets holding hands, I always wonder when the time will come that I can do these things (despite how soppy they are)!
So for me, being single is a big mix of conflicting emotions. Add to this the magical emotional intensity of liking someone and the miserable potential that they won’t reciprocate these feelings…as Taylor Swift puts it, “it’s miserable and magical (oh yeah)”.
I do want a boyfriend, but not for the sake of having a boyfriend. I’m not desperate (if I was, I could probably go on some dodgy dating site and find an equally desperate male counterpart who could satisfy my wants and needs). That’s not the way I do things. I want to find that someone special who I can experience the joys and struggles of life with, till death do us part. You can’t rush or force something you want to last forever.
I believe that God knows the deepest desires of my heart. He has a plan for me. And His timing is perfect. So although things may not be turning out according to the time scale of MY life plan, I guess I just need to be patient…in fact, the Bible tells us that ‘love’ itself is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4). Whatever happens in my life in terms of relationships, I know that God’s plan gives me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
So for now, “I’m feeling 22, and (I know) everything will be alright”. Thanks for the lyrics Taylor!
Emily has almost finished her MA at the University of Kent. She likes travelling, Doctor Who, and bubble baths. Check out her charity, Khushi Feet, here.
Photos taken from Pinterest.com