I’ve ordered a beer off the flight attendant because honestly, I might have to be a bit liquored up to write about this subject. If I start aggressively writing about the patriarchy, it was the beer (But seriously, the patriarchy, it runs deep).
I’ve been single for three years now. I started this blog with my ex-boyfriend whose name and photos you can see peppered through the archives. We started it, hopeful and dedicated, before even setting foot on our first flight together. Three months later, muscles still sore from trekking the Annapurna trail, we were divvying up our possessions: He took the camera, I took the computer. The blog was always mine.
The year that followed was busy, and being single hardly crossed my mind as I healed my splintered heart with walks in the German forest and friendship’s formed around smoky campfires.
And in the two years since. Well, there’s been nothing.
And when I say nothing, I mean ten Tinder dates, three truly idiotic crushes, and a firm appreciation for Adam Driver (hot damn). This includes three lawyers called Nick, one guy whose name I have forgotten but who made me really look at his Apple watch, and a scruffy Swede who dressed almost solely in Alpaca.
Being single can be a rough gig. Travelling as a single girl can be rough too. The whole “trying to fit your bags into a toilet cubicle” dance can be trying at the best of times, let alone after 12 hours of travelling. One time, after doing Bag-Tetris into a toilet, I dropped the straps of my overalls into the toilet water. You better believe I just did those babies up and kept on my merry way.
Why? Because we deal. We have no one to deal for us, so we pick ourselves up and keep going, albeit with damp shoulders.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Sometimes it would be nice to have someone hold your hand when your plane is going through a rough patch of turbulence. BUT, if you lace your fingers together, down a tiny bottle of vodka, and pop on some girl-power tunes, you’re usually alright.
So in the interest of oversharing, and as an act of solidarity to my fellow single travellers, here are six things I have learnt about the joys and suffering of the single years.
It is easy to become cynical and, god forbid, despairing.
I love love. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get swept up in a Woody Allen film where the guy falls in love over the span of a week, usually in the 1920’s, or lose my mind to sweet folk songs. I read poetry.
So when yet another Tinder date bores me to tears or makes a dumb joke about feminism, and I’m riding in the Uber home, it can make you turn bitter. Try your hardest to fight this. But you might not win some days.
Is happiness only real when shared?
Jon Krakauer is one my favourite authors, and also the penman of the popular quote. Its reach has been far, and it is usually blazoned across Instagram pictures or done up in a jaunty font and hung on the wall. But excuuuusse me, Mr Krakauer, this quote can be a bit of a punch to the face for those of us who are choosing the toilet-Tetris life.
There have been many times, in travel and normal life, when I have felt happy all on my lonesome. And I’m sure many of you agree.
You can adjust your dreams accordingly.
One of my dreams is to live nomadically for a year or two. Whether that’s on a yacht or in a beat-up old van, I’ve always wanted to work from the road. Now, this dream has always involved a partner. Mostly because I’m still afraid of the dark and also because if something breaks down, I couldn’t even tell you where to begin to look.
I have no doubt that this dream will happen. It might turn out to be miserable. It might be a fulfilment of everything I had hoped. Regardless, I have come to the conclusion this dream would be just as fun with one of my friends. And if that falls through, I’m going to pop the hood and get greasy.
You can be just as unhappy, and even more so, in a relationship.
When you’re single for three years, or ten years, or forever, it’s easy to romanticise relationships and forget they are bloody hard work.
My last relationship had me crying in Thailand, crying in the Himalayas, crying in the shower, crying at work – You name it, I probably cried there.
Relationships can have so much heartbreak, pain, and annoyance; They are definitely not all sunshine and roses.
When you’re single, the only person who can break your heart is the sales person behind the doughnut counter when they say they’re run out for the day.
If you need a confidence boost, find an old man.
There have been times in my life where I’ve been a bit “woe is me” wondering why I haven’t found a boy who likes me despite my tendency to eat other people’s food, and my tummy’s overwhelming presence (maybe correlated- but who can say).
Then, like a hairy angel sent from heaven, I meet an old man who is simply AGHAST – like, super shocked- at my single status. “A BEAUTIFUL girl like you can’t find a boyfriend. Are they all BLIND?” he screams.
This has happened to me on multiple occasions and every time I’ve walked away with my head held high and a new found confidence. Ladies, find yourself an old man to reel with shock at your single status every now and then. I highly recommend it.
Collect your patches of bravery.
Like girl scouts who gather patches for building a fire or pitching a tent, girl travellers gather bravery patches. They’re just invisible (and imaginary, but who cares). One patch for making it through your first third-world country. A patch for not crying when they lose your luggage. A patch for making it through the 12-hour flight next to Mr B.O. Two patches for when you tell the boy that you like him, and one for when he moves on to the next country.
And one big ole’ patch for when you successfully pile your stuff into a toilet cubicle.
I’ll leave you with a piece of advice my 60-year-old taxi driver yelled at me today: “ If you’re single or if you’re married, life goes on.”
Yes, it does.
I would love to hear your experience. Let me know in the comments below!