The dilemma is that being seraphic about being Single is not the same thing as getting yourself married. And this may be why my book is not #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The fact is that most Single people do not want to be happy about being Single. Most of you want to be married.
Thus, Single people are going to buy books that will tell you how to get married, and this drives me nuts because most of you are not married because we are all on God's time and God hasn't willed that you be married yet.
I will now tell you a story I haven't told you before. It is a good story and could increase sales, but for the wrong reason, which I will explain.
So someone involved with the publication of my book (so she could be Canadian, American or Polish) sat down and read the proofs. She read them all the way through. And when she was done she put the pile away and gave her whole life over to God. She had been struggling with her Singleness for some time, but after reading my book she decided that was it. If God wanted her to be Single she would be Single. If He wanted her to get married, He could arrange that. And that's what she told Him.
That Sunday after Mass she was introduced to the man who is now her husband.
"Maybe that's what He wanted to hear first," I said. "Maybe He wanted you to give him a total gift of trust, and only then did He decree you were ready to meet [your fiance]."
The problem with this story is that I can imagine dozens or hundreds of women shutting my book and giving over their lives over to God in the hopes that they will thereby be rewarded with a man the next Sunday after Mass. But that is not really giving your life over to God, now, is it? It's not good enough to pray to God just because you want to go to heaven and avoid hell. You should pray to God because He is so great and good.
"Seraphic Singles" was never about "how to get married"; it was about "how to be happy about being Single." It was about "How not to go crazy with being Single." And I definitely do not want to become a "How To Get Married Lady" because I don't think there is much women can do to get married beyond:
1. being a nice, friendly person with good manners and good taste
2. living her life in public, especially a public that includes eligible men
3. not having premarital sex (and even then some women manage it, just so long as they are sleeping with the RIGHT GUY, and so often they think they are and they aren't)
4. praying to know the difference between a good prospect and a bad.
5. actively living in reality and not in an imaginary land of her own making
(Most of my dating advice is about how not to get mixed up with the wrong man. It is rarely about finding the right one, except by staying away from the wrong ones.)
Getting married, of course, necessitates both God willing you to get married and a man wanting to marry you. So you cannot do very much on your own. Becoming happy, however, is something that you CAN do, so that is what I encourage. And if you know your path to happiness includes spending the ages of 20 and 40 in graduate school, then off you go to graduate school. Let the marital chips fall where they may.
I once heard a male graduate student pity the female graduate students he knew because they worked very, very hard and never went out, except to teach and go to drunken wind-down parties. Assuming they all wanted to get married and have kids but were too embarrassed or brainwashed to admit it, he said that they were shooting themselves in the foot.
Well, I don't know. As I wrote yesterday, I know lots of women with graduate degrees who got married after or right during their programs. They met men at church or at weddings or just in a neighbourhood cafe while marking papers. They were faithful Catholics who loved to hang out with their girlfriends and go to parties and have parties themselves. They met lots of people, and they networked, and they wailed about being Single until suddenly, one by one, they stopped being quite so Single and then got married.
The thing is, they enjoyed themselves even though they were Single. They studied because they were very interested in the topics and thought they might have a shot at teaching them one day. But they made sure they socialized, too. They leaned on each other for companionship and support and help with party-having.
And, of course, not all the girls in my various sets got married. And as each one of us got engaged, many of the rest of us, no matter how old or young, had "What about me?" moments. But we all kept on with our other dreams and plans and worship and prayers and parties and some of us, still unmarried, still do that.
From years of conversations through my blogs, I think women get more comfortable with being Single the older we get. The thought that terrifies us at 19--what if I never have a boyfriend--ceases to be the big boogie monster over time. It is women who are still forming an identity who think that romance is a shortcut to identity, not women who have forged careers and friendships and holidays "on their own" for decades.
The one thing I think can hurt a woman in graduate school, both in terms of being happy in her Singleness and in terms of marriage prospects, is getting a reputation for blowing off steam at drunken parties and having stupid, usually short, love affairs. Grad school can be quite a little fishbowl, and so it might be a good idea to plan your social activities with the same good sense you use to plan your papers.