The Warning of the Bear

This morning I woke up to a dream an hour before my alarm was set to stir me. In the dream I was sitting atop a tall clay outlook, a humble throne. I looked down from my perch in horror as a bunch of white people, adults and kids, threw rocks at a white mama bear in a clearing at night. The bear was angry, roaring and standing upright. They had been throwing rocks for some time, and her patience was wearing thin. Suddenly, the bear ran through the crowd circling, moving more quickly than I thought possible, a warning. I feared she might hurt one of the smaller children, toddlers, standing innocently in the crowd. As she completed her loop back to her original position with her back against the trees, I began yelling, “Hey!” I knew that if she did hurt one of the people it would mean her life too, no matter whose fault. As I tried to get the people’s attention to stop tormenting the bear, for their own safety and for hers, I realized my technique was ineffective. My screams drifted into the din in vein as the people too were yelling “Hey!” and throwing rocks at the mother bear, my screams drowned out by the chaos of the scene. I was too distant, my approach too easily drowned out. And then I woke up.

Strenth in Being Single

For the past three years, though it seems much, much longer, I have not been in a capital “R” Relationship. There have been trials and shorter relationships, one in particular which lasted a few months, but nothing that really felt like a mutual commitment with an eye toward the long-term. So much has happened throughout this time. I moved to two new cities, made amazing friends, found my career path, put myself through grad school, and chose a city I want to stay in close to family in my home state. However, I feel like I have not fully appreciated all of these blessings because it has been on my own. And when I say “on my own,” I am discounting the amazing relationships that I have with my family and sweet friends. (See, I am still trying to rewire my brain.)

While in the past I’ve told myself I should appreciate this alone time while I have it, I never really felt that. Cognitively, I know it’s true. Being at a time in my life where I have all my evenings to myself, with no one else to take care of is extremely rare. (Besides my cat, Wednesday, and she’s pretty low maintenance.) It’s an opportunity that my mother never had, and her mother never had, having moved from their parents’ house into their husbands’ house. It is a place of solitude to listen and learn.

Maybe it’s the story of “what’s supposed to happen as an adult” that has caused me to focus so much on finding this perfect partner who will supposedly make my life complete. Or, maybe it’s just that I’m a loving person who gets a lot of peace out of close bonding with others. Maybe it’s the expectations others have for my life and its timing that is projecting on me a dissatisfaction with the current state of things.

While this is a path I never would have willingly chose for myself, I am truly glad at this point that it has been mine. I never would have had the drive, time, or energy to do all the growing I have during my non-committed years. It’s kind of funny to think about it. I told my mom recently, it almost seems like someone is doing this to me on purpose; the odds are in my favor that I would be in a Relationship by now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “But you’re awesome, why are you still single?” I used to say, “just haven’t met the right person yet.” When these questions really began to wear on me, my response changed. I would say, “I’m not the problem! I know I’m great. They’re the problem! Have you scrolled through Tinder lately?”

What I am learning, if not fully experiencing yet at this point if I’m going to be honest, is that if I can’t be at peace with now, in all its imperfection, I won’t ever be. Because life is never perfect, except in the beauty of each unique moment. I try to recognize my privileges and fully appreciate the unimaginable blessings that I have, such as being able to do the things I love like yoga and volleyball and playing guitar and reading! So, from here on out, I am actively putting effort into not just tolerating my singledom, but cherishing it for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it is to focus on developing who I am, or more so, learning how to learn about myself and my opportunities in the world.