The Single Girl in a Festive Whirl (published in SHE Caribbean, Winter 2010)

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“My goodness, Christmas, New Years and Valentines are right around the corner. I wish I could climb into a cocoon and wake up in 2011, say around the end of February. Having no boyfriend during the season is hellish.” Anya, 25.

Anya is single but definitely not alone in terms of her outlook.  For many single ladies tis the season to be clobbered with garlands and roses, carols and schmaltzy love songs, stuffed toys embroidered with professions of love, good cheer and constant reminders that lovers are pursuing perfect gifts for special someones. Singles are forced to endure all kinds of romantic and fantastic renderings of the holidays and Valentines until they’re red and green all over. They’re hit hard by everything, except cupid’s arrow, and the result, in some instances, is the worst case of Singleism known to woman.

If you’re not involved in a romantic relationship you probably dread those 76 days from December 1st to February 14th because, quite frankly, it usually feels like the masterminds design it all without considering you. Optimism may not be as accessible as the pervasive sense of loneliness that snuggles ever so closely up to you, but try to think positively; this is an important factor in warding off those ostensibly organized attacks on single ladies.

Here are a few tips:

  1. “Remind yourself, every day if necessary, that there’s nothing wrong with being single,” recommends Toni Coleman, therapist and relationship coach. You’re not alone in singledom; your singleton status is not everlasting and neither is the season. Having someone merely to share the season with is not a good enough reason to be in a relationship. Have you forgotten the drunken, embarrassing mess he became at every function where alcohol was available? Wouldn’t it be harder to be in a relationship where your significant other didn’t care to make the effort during the season than to be single? Your current marital status is not a judgment on your character, and self-denigration is not a viable coping mechanism.
  1. Don’t avoid your office party and other opportunities to go out and mingle around that time. Actively pursue positive distractions, but don’t overbook and don’t permit a sense of obligation to dictate your schedule. Go where you like and have fun. Events are plentiful during the Christmas – New Years season, but at Valentines, activities where singles would be comfortable are rare, since this day has evolved into a celebration only for lovers. Relationship pundit Yolanda Shoshana encourages singles to plan and host their own events (e.g movie night, night club, bar-b-que, dinner, house parties). These provide occasions to socialize with new people, swap stories and silly gifts and generally have a good time without having to contend with Valentine’s romantic atmosphere.
  1. You’re more than half of a couple – you’re a friend, a philanthropist, an advisor, a boss and, in some cases a mother. Women in relationships tend to neglect other aspects of their lives; therefore this period is ideal for the purpose of rediscovery.  “Look for ways to give to or do for others. Feeling useful and appreciated will provide a great boost to your holiday spirits,” Toni Coleman says. You can offer to babysit for couples in need of a break, and at the same time earn the title of ‘cool aunty’. Contact people you haven’t heard from in a while. Volunteer at a charity event, a church, at an institution such as an orphanage or a geriatric home. Singles with kids can involve their kids thereby broadening the young ones’ definitions of the season.
  1. Avoid people who make you feel uncomfortable about being single. This includes your obnoxious cousin, Gary, who keeps hinting that something must be wrong with you. Relationship coach, Ron Prewitt recommends that you either stay away altogether or prepare some witty comebacks – you’d be surprised at how the latter bolsters you. You may also be surprised to know that many people are not as preoccupied with your relationship status as you think they are. There are possibly a few out there quite envious of your independence. All in all, choose your company wisely.
  1. “Don’t put off or deny yourself those happy holiday expressions, as you wait for your significant other. Make your life all it can be right now,” Toni Coleman urges. Break with tradition or choose to continue with the customs that bring you comfort; of course if you have kids you should give much consideration to what they are accustomed to. Feel free to redefine what Christmas, New Years and Valentines mean to you. Spend time with yourself – if you’re malcontented in your company, you shouldn’t expect much more from others.  Sleep all day, or work all day. Read, exercise, engage in a favorite hobby or try something new. Ignore all unrealistic expectations.
  2. Yes you’re single, but I’m sure you have blessings to count. Are you debt free? Do you have a supportive family/friend network? Do you work at a job you enjoy? Are you healthy? Those in relationships have their blessings and stresses too – you know this from experience. “The illusion that coupled people are happy and well-loved can feed feelings of loneliness or isolation for people who aren’t with someone, and wish they were…Seeing the illusory nature of this holiday can be the first step in feeling better about being precisely who and where you are,” Dr. Laura S. Brown, a psychology professor, points out. Be grateful for what you have and work on the things that you need to, to truly make you the better half in your next relationship.
  1. Psychologist, Dr. Doris Jeanette proposes indulging in non-toxic ways; this of course disqualifies the option to benumb with food, alcohol or drugs. The hospitality industry has recognized the need to cater to your segment, so take a trip or go on a cruise. Choose this time to make a major purchase, such as car. A total makeover could be fun. A shopping spree with your best friend is also an option. Pamper yourself without the attending guilt.  Single or not — you’re worth it.

The period December 1st to February 14th represents less than a quarter of the year but for single girls the impact is significant. Thankfully, the other public holidays are more forgiving, and some in fact seem to celebrate singlehood e.g. Independence, Emancipation. And of course Anya reminded me, “…I can’t wait for Carnival. Trust me that’s the best time to be single!”

 

 


 

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