5 Unexpectedly Awesome Lessons I Learned From Being Single (And Celibate) for 5 Years

young woman sitting on fence post at sunset
young woman sitting on fence post at sunset

I sort of stumbled upon long-term singlehood. First it was a deliberate choice, and then it was just how my life unfolded naturally. Can't hurry love. And can't force it either.

Here's what I learned during my 1/2 decade as a declared bachelorette in my late twenties:

1. I am enough for me
As a woman, it's curious to me how easily we can feel like we're not enough if there's no significant other on our arm. Like perhaps we are less than because a man (or woman) hasn't chosen us. We have no other half or +1 to escort us to parties. Especially when the mainstream is getting married from ages 25-35, a single woman stands out as an outlier and it feels a little alienating.

And I think there's a tendency to wonder why we've been single for what seems like centuries, what must be wrong with us?

I've learned that I am enough for me. Period. No man decides and determines my worth as a woman. And I have never felt more empowered or attractive than I do right now, utterly manless and unspoken for.

2. I enjoy solitude
I don't want to humblebrag or anything, but it's the best thing ever to have tons of ME time without having to share it with a significant other. And I need a lot of ME time to recharge. I've been on a voyage of self-discovery to learn my likes and dislikes and get reacquainted with my personal dreams without the influence of a sig. other.

I've had vast opportunity for exploration and this has been the real gift of singlehood. I have gotten to know myself and pursue pleasures & hobbies that spark my interest like yoga, writing, making jewelry, and reveling in the great outdoors. It's a beautiful thing to enjoy one's own company.

3. Love is a multi-purpose term
I often hear those who are single say, "I have no love in my life." Except that's not entirely true. I have felt this way as a single woman. I have had a very limited view of love. But I learned that a romantic relationship is not the only source of love. It is quite possible to BE IN LOVE without the presence of a significant other. So that is what I set out to do.

I love and am in love with so many things, and people, and places. I love big. I'm head over heels in love with my nieces and nephews. Love is everywhere in my daily experience because I choose to view the world through this lens and have expanded my view of the L word.

4. The difference between Want vs. Need
Even though it feels like, at times, I need a man -- the truth is that I don't need one. I might want one. But I don't need one. I learned to discern the difference between coming from a place of neediness versus coming from a place of desire; between being a stage-5 clinger and being a woman who feels her worth. Part of me deeply yearns for a companion, someone to share trips and experiences with. That's natural.

But another part of me knows that as long as I view romantic relationships as something that I need, to complete me, they never will. I have learned to see relationships as supplemental. Nobody is going to fulfill, complete, or "make me happy." That is my job. They can supplement my happiness, but they cannot be the primary source.

5. How to channel sexual energy
There is a long-studied and profound link between sexual and creative energy. Sexual energy is creative energy, which translates into vitality. Sex literally has the ability to create new life. So in my several years of abstaining from sex, I have had endless opportunities to harness my creative/sexual energy and find alternate ways to release it. Since vowing to singledom and bachelorette-hood, I've built a strong power yoga practice, learned how to live physically and emotionally sober, started my own business where I coach and teach yoga and write and create, gone on solo retreats, established a spiritual connection, rekindled my love for music, and so much more.