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I’m about to turn 30. There’s something about that age that seems to prompt a lot of thought about the past and the future, and especially being single.
Singleness isn’t easy, life isn’t easy for that matter. But I think we’d all admit that we’d like to grow in our current lives. Life is filled with lessons, and I’d like to share 9 that I’ve learned these past few years and hope that they can be an encouragement to you. These will most likely not be new to you or a surprise and they are of course not just lessons exclusive to singles.
#1: Getting to know yourself takes effort.
I’ve been reading Debra’s True Love Dates materials for about two years now, and I know she is a huge advocate of getting to know yourself. This does take time and it took me till about my mid-twenties to be more confident in my more introverted personality. The following are helpful things to consider taking.
- Myers-Briggs personality test
- 5 Love Languages quiz
- Strengths Finder test
These were all very eye-opening to me and opened the door to more reflection about who I am and discovering my gifts and talents. I also recommend sitting down and writing out a list of adjectives that describe you and then thinking through the pros and cons of each trait. Some helpful questions to ask yourself.
- How has my past affected me in both good and bad ways?
- Family patterns
- Health concerns
- How can I serve my church, friends, family, and coworkers with my traits?
- How does the gospel speak into my true identity in Christ?
#2: Plugging in to a local church is key.
I personally did not experience a truly healthy church until my mid-twenties. It was such a refreshing experience to be surrounded by a church body that believed that the Christian walk affects your daily life and that we should strive for holiness and fight sin.
Yes, it can be awkward and even intimidating to visit churches by yourself, but it is so worth it. I truly believe that committing to a local church is vital for spiritual growth. Church “hopping” is unfortunately too common for our generation. I once even had a church member call me brave for visiting a small group by myself. Friends, think of what a difference it could make if millennials would faithfully attend and commit to churches and make this the new norm.
#3: Having friends in different life stages is necessary.
This will look different for everyone and their situation. For me, I like to joke that I make “mom” friends wherever I go. This has been a huge blessing to me as they’ve shared their wisdom with me and I’ve been able to observe their parenting styles and marriage patterns among other things.
After college, I was in a town where I was surrounded by college students and families and it was easier to have multi-generational friends. But I will admit that I longed for friends my age. Now I’m surrounded by several friends my age and it takes more of an effort on my end to seek out older and younger friends. No matter your situation, I encourage you to make the effort to seek out especially older friends and mentors.
#4: Managing your time is essential.
I’ll admit that I fall into the trap of thinking that I’m not self-centered. But of course that’s not true. Something about being in extended singleness can promote the indulgence of self. We are often times only looking out for ourselves. I personally make daily decisions about my job, my housing, my food, my time, etc.
But I want to encourage us to look outside of ourselves. Especially in the time department. Now, I know just because we’re single doesn’t necessarily mean we have all this free time floating around. Some jobs out there are incredibly challenging or even have crazy schedules. But there may be some truth when people say that life becomes so much busier if you get married and then again if you have kids. Here’s just a few things that come to mind when I think of using our time wisely.
- Volunteer in your community
- Serve at your church
- Host a meal for friends/family/neighbors
- Pursue a meaningful hobby or activity
- Travel and see this beautiful world
#5: Learning to cook can be fun!
I keep having single friends tell me how hard it is to cook for one. I’m here to tell you it is possible. Now, of course it takes an investment of time. But it is more cost effective (and healthier!) to eat at home and even take your lunches to work.
Here’s what’s worked for me: On the weekend I think through 2 to 3 meals and a couple of quick breakfast options. Then I make a list of the ingredients that I will need to buy. I usually go grocery shopping on Sunday and cook one or two of the meals on Sunday night and another one Tuesday or Wednesday. This does mean you will be eating some leftovers during the week. For me, inspiration comes from some food blogs that I travel and a couple of cookbooks. I also love my Instant Pot, a cooking game changer right there! Having basic pantry items in stock will make cooking and baking easier as well.
#6: Your health is important
It often feels like our society puts more pressure on the outward appearance instead of the inward. I’m not just talking about your character, I’m talking about your physical health. Coming from a family where chronic illness has taken it’s toll, I’ve come to realized that HEALTH MATTERS.
Even if we’re young and thin and even exercise, that doesn’t mean we can eat fast food all of the time and not have consequences. For me, it’s helped following a couple of health conscious food blogs and being intentional about planning healthy meals and snacks.
#7: Paying off debt is worth it.
Unfortunately debt has been all too normal in our society. However, I think most people would agree that you should keep debt to a minimum and pay it off as soon as possible. Speaking from the other side, it’s a great feeling to say goodbye to Sallie Mae. It really is so much easier to save and budget without debt payments. Research what is best for you.
Do you really need a new car with payments and higher insurance? What are the pros and cons of what you’re getting into debt for? Is this a need or a want? I know that it may feel impossible to quickly pay off debt and that you know it’s going to be years before you’re free. Definitely seek help to see if there are ways that you can fight to pay of the debt burden.
#8: Traveling can open your eyes.
I believe that it’s a worthwhile investment to travel when possible! I work in international education, so I obviously think that traveling internationally can help us learn so much about ourselves as well as other cultures and people. Traveling has helped me personally become more introspective and reflective as well as to gain new skills. As singles, I often think the fear of loneliness keeps us from traveling more. We’ve all seen the articles that say solo travel is amazing and everyone should do it. But then you try it and it may not have been as amazing as you had hoped. I completely understand and have been there myself. I did find a few way to combat loneliness during my year of teaching English in Spain. These are my top tips.
- Join group travels or tours on your journey
- Be intentional about introducing yourself to people around you
- Seek out other single travelers and even locals to connect with
- Join meetups in cities
- Stay at places easy to meet other travelers like hostels.
You may already have a travel buddy, or group of friends, or family members. That’s great! So whether you go by yourself or go with others, get out there and enjoy it!
#9: Enjoy the present and dream about the future.
I can easily fall into the trap of thinking about how things will be in the future and not focus on the present. We are so much more than our marital status. Our identity as children of God is first and foremost. So be intentional about building relationships. I know single friends that are divorced, that have severe health issues, who are dealing with rough pasts…all hard things. Life is hard, surround yourself with healthy relationships and a community to grow and serve with.
Also give yourself permission to dream about the future. It’s okay to have healthy goals and desires and to pursue them.
My prayer is that we realize that singleness is what it is, BUT more importantly it truly is also what you make of it.
Comment below: What about you? What lessons have you learned in your singleness?
Andrea is a 30-year old single woman, loving life in Austin, Texas. She is passionate about International Education, Spanish, traveling, cooking, nutrition, and hospitality.