It's mid-July, and the wedding season is in full swing. And I know how much Singles looooove that!
Dear Auntie Seraphic,
I'm wondering if you have any tips or pointers on getting through a particularly active wedding season. Next month I'll be going to the seventh wedding in a year. One of my current roommates is engaged to be married next summer, and a new roommate moving in soon is also engaged. Two of the people I work with are engaged - one of them just got engaged last weekend. A number of other classmates/friends/acquaintances are also engaged, and most of them will be married by the time I graduate next May (master's degree in hand, no idea what to do with it because I was supposed to be married by now!).
The point is, it's a lot of people. And I'm so, so happy for them all, I really am. It's such a blessing, an awesome thing to know so many young, faithful, active Catholics getting married at a time when eschewing marriage seems to be all the rage, especially among my generation.
It is a little bit difficult for me, though. Not that they're getting married, of course, but that I'm not. Many of those I know who are getting married, or who have gotten married in the last year, are at or above the average age to marry these days. They had to wait longer than those just-out-of-college marriages to find the right people for them; most of them didn't meet until well after college. They had to wait and be patient, just as God is telling me to do right now. It's very good for me to remember that.
But that said, it's still so hard for me sometimes. (Or, really, a lot of the time.) I'll be 25 in a couple of months, which I know isn't old by any standards. That doesn't make it easier, though, to attend wedding after wedding single and alone. I really want to be happy for all these friends, happy without anything to mar it, without those behind-the-scenes feelings of "I wish it were me" while being excited for them.
I know that a) wishing is pretty pointless, and b) it's NOT me right now for a reason. God has a purpose. But as more and more friends get to experience what I've only daydreamed about (I've never even been in a relationship), it's been getting harder and harder to rejoice with them as I ought to. Especially lately, when it seems that I'm surrounded by wedding talk everywhere I go. At work, at home, at school. I want to be able to have fun with all the details girls love that go along with planning a wedding, but instead it's started to become a painful reminder of what I might never get to experience.
Long story short, I'm just wondering if you have any pointers regarding how best to get past these ugly feelings of jealousy, knowing that God is keeping me single for a very specific reason. I don't want to keep feeling happy-with-a-caveat. I want to be happy for them in the way I imagine already-married people are happy when they hear news of a friends' engagement. I really want to have hope and peace that maybe someday it will be me, but maybe it won't be. I want to be able to be ok with that, and enjoy each wedding (and the preceding preparation) as the joyous occasion that it is, and not as another reminder of my singleness - although it's hard to avoid being reminded that I'm single when the bride does the bouquet toss. I'm sure I just need to get over these wedding blues already and just let myself be happy for my friends, because I'm sure I would really want them to be happy for me if the roles were reversed.
Thank you so much for reading my disorganized thoughts.
So Many Weddings
Dear So Many Weddings,
You are so positively normal I am wondering where my weird readers are. Nobody ever writes in saying, "I'm in love with my step-brother who is also a priest-archeologist." Everybody always writes in saying, "I have gone to a million weddings, I'm Single, and why can't I just feel totally happy instead of jealous?"
Listen, no Single woman who isn't a nun or/and a living saint feels 100% happy about a wedding that isn't her own. I call this Singles' Wedding Angst, and if you don't feel it during a wedding, you feel it afterwards, when you're on your way home alone. I got it at every wedding I ever went to until after I was married to B.A. It's just part of the wedding, along with the cake and the boring speeches.
(By the way, Single men get it, too, and you can tell which ones have it worst, because they are the ones getting blitzed at the bar while shouting "I'm glad it isn't ME putting MY head in a noose!")
Of course you are envious. You're a fallen creature. I'm a fallen creature. We're all fallen creatures. And it is normal for fallen creatures to feel sad when everybody except us gets an ice-cream cone/to go to Disney World/a European holiday/a wedding/a baby. The thing to do is to realize that we are not Awesomely Alone in Our Outrageous Sinfulness but just boring, run-of-the-mill sinners, and that all Single women get Singles Wedding Angst anyway.
But your question is, how do you cope? Here is a list of things you can do to cope with Singles Wedding Angst:
1. Don't go to the wedding. You don't HAVE to go to every wedding you're invited to. If you send a gift instead, you'll save money, please the bride, and save her money on your dinner. Most guests at really big weddings are totally expendable. If the bride only invited 30 people, though, or is your sister, you should probably go.
2. If you do go, sit with friends or family members you actually like. No friends or fun family there? Don't go. Send a gift instead.
3. If you go, look like a MILLION dollars. Go to the hairdresser. Wear a cute dress. Wear lipgloss. Knowing you look like a million bucks usually chases away the blues.
4. You remember that this is your friend's big day; it is not about you. Be a considerate guest. If you have to fake happy, fake happy! Just faking happy can actually make you feel better. I don't know why this is so, but it is so.
5. You begin conversations with strangers at the reception. You are going to look like a million dollars, so whoever it is will want to talk to you. Especially if they are Single, bored and about to be hit with Singles Wedding Angst. Always remember that you will not be the only Single woman in the bouquet-toss scrum.
6. Do not get tipsy unless you are having a GREAT time. Alcohol is a depressant.
7. If you're at the reception and you're getting bored and depressed, go home. Go home now! Take cab money because it is terribly depressing to go home from a wedding alone on the bus.
8. Have a big treat waiting for you at home, like a DVD of a comedy you really want to see.
9. Thank God it is your friend and not you marrying that specific guy. Only once in my whole Single life have I ever found the groom attractive enough perhaps to have dated myself. And since his wife is one of my best buddies, I should stop mentioning that. Seriously--most grooms are nice but not universally attractive.
When I got married, I really worried that my Single friends (and readers!) would feel badly that I was getting married. I definitely worried that my Single friends would get Singles' Wedding Angst at my wedding. But then I realized that there was nothing I, Seraphic, could really do to prevent that and, besides, my nose was bleeding from Brides' Wedding Meltdown.
MEANWHILE, I have three more things to say to you, Missy:
1. I know turning 25 is hard for Single women. I was a basketcase when I was 24, thinking about turning 25. It is not a coincidence that I made my first, disastrous, and now annulled marriage when I was 25. But 25 is really, really young. Go look at your 24 and 3/4s year old skin in the mirror and say, "I love you, beautiful young skin!" Do this right now!
Would you rather marry Mr. Divorceable when you are 25, or wait and marry Mr. Perfect for You when you are 38? I rest my case.
2. An M.A. is not something that you do to kill time before meeting Mr. Right. An M.A. is what you do to avoid getting a full-time job. But an M.A. looks great on your resume, so if you don't have a career-type job yet, get one as soon as you have the pricey piece of paper. Money, beautiful money! Whenever you start thinking about how you are Single, get a travel book from the library and research your first real, paid-by-you, adventure holiday. My first one was to Italy, and it was fantastic.
3. Congratulations on so far not getting suckered into a romantic relationship that went nowhere. Sometimes it is great never to have had a boyfriend. I have had eleven break-ups, and that is just ridiculous.
If I could do it all over again, I would have not dated at all, or I would have gone to Aberdeen in 1990 and waylaid B.A. on his way to First Year Philosophy class.
Me: Hello, it is I, your future wife.
B.A.: I'm sorry... Do I know you?
Me: You're going to eventually, so why don't we get married right now and save a whole bunch of people a lot of heartaches?
B.A.: Very well, then.
But life does not work out that way, alas. Meanwhile, believe me, not having had a "relationship" is not necessarily a bad thing. Keep on developing "friendships" and try not to worry about "relationships".
I hope this is helpful!
Grace and peace,