I know I’m not alone in this.
Glamorous people are having a great time on TV, and when the clock strikes, everyone in the world seems to get a champion make-out session. I awkwardly reach for another glass of whatever and shake the confetti off. It’s a known fact that for single girls, after Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve is the worst.
I should be able to pretend that it doesn’t matter I’m not part of that. Usually, I can.
Not this year.
I am supposed to be too smart, too old, too tough, or too spiritual to care about that stuff. I should know better.
But I’m not.
And I don’t.
I don’t usually let myself talk about being single because I think I’m too good for that. I want to be some shining example: There is more to life than being on a man’s arm and having his last name and doing the kids-and-family thing. I’m determined to find meaning found apart from men, to show that it was possible to be fulfilled as a single person.
Whining is beneath me. Supposedly, I have more faith in God than that.
Whatever—it’s actually my pride.
It’s about refusing to let smug couples be right about how much better life is now that they’ve found someone. (I don’t even know who those couples are. But it will be over my dead body before they—whoever they is—get me to admit defeat.)
There’s no ignoring it on New Year’s Eve. The whole thing turns your singleness into a damn disco ball.
As I tried on a dozen outfits yesterday in search of something to wear to a friend’s party tonight, nothing worked. I got frustrated and blamed everything I don’t like about how I look.
It’s not like there weren’t options. No fewer than 5 women (and my brother-in-law) contributed to that great pile of clothes on my bed. Some were even shipped priority mail so I’d have NYE choices. I had enough.
It turns out, I was asking too much from my clothes–as usual. I genuinely believe I can out-dress my insecurities. I turn to clothes and makeup to hide how I’m feeling.
There’s no belittlement red lipstick can’t answer.
Sometimes, it’s worked.
Once I had to go to a wedding where I was, again, single and had to see people I dreaded. My knockout dress, great shoes, and fabulous hair gave me a night of compliments and four-hours’ relief from the shame and self-rejection. The contents of a certain flask drowned any judgments, heard and self-imposed.
That’s the outfit I’m looking for—one that does all that.
And I don’t have it.
Clothes from the discard pile have been featured on dates with a dozen (or so) men this year. Can’t I make ANY of those work for tonight?
Of course I mean the men, not the clothes.
Really? I have to do another year like this?
I tell myself the kiss tradition at midnight is really just superstition: How you spend your NYE is how you will spend your 2015. I’m more rational than that; I don’t actually believe rituals shape my destiny.
All the online tips for how to survive NYE as a single girl tell you to dress hot, cheer up, and find a stranger to make-out with at midnight. Surely there will be someone at the bar or your swanky party.
But that’s not how life works.
Tonight’s house party will be a bunch of couples and a few single girls–no single men, which is pretty typical in my circle. If I grab someone to make out with at midnight, we will first have to rock-paper-scissors for who has to be Brittney and who has to be Madonna.
Ew. Not what we’re going for.
[Side note: Statistically, half the people in the United States are unmarried, and statistically, half of those are men.
If I’m constantly surrounded by single girls, where are you guys? Stop playing laser tag, sober up, suit up, and hustle-up, Buttercup! Tonight’s party has the jackpot waiting for you.]
The couples at the party? Most of them are younger than me. They’re great people—I love them—but I can’t help be frustrated. Why isn’t it my turn? Why wasn’t 2014 my year?
Not only does the pile of clothes showcase my discontent, but it spotlights a deeper pain: watching my younger friends find partners and happiness makes me feel left behind, discarded, “perfectly good”, but still not good enough, still not right. And I’m so embarrassed by that, I’d rather turn up naked than admit it.
Know what? I bet I’m not the only single girl at a New Year’s Eve party who feels part of 2014’s discard pile.
The only thing worse than being The Single Girl on New Year’s Eve is being The Single Girl again.
At the heart of my New Year’s Ennui is a trio of things that plague us all, dating, married, or single.
- No one likes to face the places in their lives where they are still waiting on fulfillment.
I have plenty of pretty clothes. I have work that I’m proud of, and I’ve been able to build an incredible community. I took inventory of 2014 and found some really incredible experiences. Take a look at my highly-curated Instagram feed and you’ll find a lot of coffee and La Dolce Vita.
It’s great, but there is still the daily nagging that this is not yet the life I was made to live. I would think that it was impossible to ever feel any differently, that my expectations are too high, if it weren’t for how I feel about living in Marin. I waited my whole life to love where I live as much as I do this place, and to feel “from” somewhere. All I can say is that when I have to face my own singlehood, I hate it and feel entitled to leave it the way I did Florida.
Some people hate their birthdays because it’s aging or parties or people that call attention to it: We all have emptiness and displacement somewhere, and we don’t like what illuminates it.
- Our relationships are never enough to fully cure loneliness and isolation.
I get to party tonight with some really precious people. As far as love and cheer are concerned, this is an embarrassment of riches. In fact, I’ve spent most New Year’s Eves with family of some kind, so “single” has hardly equaled “alone.” I am grateful because I know this isn’t the case for some.
But my deepest family and friendship roots can’t remedy the most universal human ache. Every married person I know still gets lonely.
What connects us truly to God and each other is the love of Christ. And if I look closely, I’ll see that Loving Likeness flicker in the faces of the people I have around me anyway, whether or not I can believe I belong.
- We get lost when we want the Thing instead of The Person.
I don’t want a date for New Year’s Eve. I want a person. I want a whole person who is more than an accessory to a great outfit or a great life; I want more than a checklist of attributes. I want more than an end to my singlehood, but I forget that sometimes.
Forgetting that makes me hang on a little longer to something that is less-than–something not good, but might be good enough because it is there.
It isn’t. The enemy of what I really want is the “good enough.” If I want the real, I can’t be seeking the thing. The thing I want blinds me to The Person I want. And I’m not just talking about dating.
I couldn’t choose a sweater for tonight because I was really searching for a fig leaf.
Something that covers my shame isn’t in my closet.
That which brings me home to a place of belonging isn’t found at a party scene, no matter how much glitter there is.
The Person who is the answer to my disconnection and loneliness isn’t standing under 3-week-old mistletoe.
My hope for radical change in my life doesn’t come with tearing the calendar page.
The marriage I want, the beauty I try to buy, the home I try to build, the success I try to earn—all of these things can only be bestowed by God in love. I wasn’t promised those things, really, and it’s infuriating on nights like New Year’s Eve.
But I was given Christ, who enables me year by year to grow into the fulfillment He promised in Himself.