Back to school

Unsplash / Lizzy Gadd

Unsplash / Lizzy Gadd

I may be 30-ahem-something and schooldays may be a fading memory, but even now, the looming arrival of September always feels more like the start of a new year than January 1st does.

The start of a new school term was always such a major event of the year and brought noticeable and tangible change, from those early primary school days in your brand new uniform, to the spotty teenage years, all the way through to your first move away from home and arrival at university.
The limp, cold and hungover arrival of new years day still seems mediocre in comparison.

I decided to take a summer holiday from blogging, not because I’d been at it so long or so prolifically that I was in need of a break, but because I’d begun to wonder if it was doing me much good.
Writing posts, sharing your thoughts and receiving friendly feedback is often a tonic.
But, I had found that I was starting to think about many things in a way I hadn’t for a while.
Writing blog posts about my single status was making me feel both comforted and like I was finding kindred spirits out there, at the same time as drilling down into emotions that weren’t especially fun.
There were times when I felt worse having expressed or admitted to something than I did before I started. Perhaps the need to keep reviewing my world to generate content meant I was thinking deeper or focusing on things in a way that wasn’t always helpful.

So, I’ve had summer off, I’ve been to parties, I’ve drunk a bit too much, a friend and I enjoyed a jaunt around Italy for a couple of weeks, I’ve survived being the single-girl at a wedding and I’ve had a bit of a mental and emotional ‘regroup’.

And so now, with the arrival of a new school term, and what feels like the start of a new year, I can’t think of a better time to re-connect with the blogging habit and start exploring a new way of writing, or thinking or exploring my world.

I wanted to blog as a positive action, not to moan or feel sorry for myself and whilst I think I have so far largely avoided those pitfalls, I was perhaps in danger of falling into them.
A holiday has been good, but I’m feeling ready to break out into a new term and crack open the digital pencil case.

So, hello, again.

Not going out

In keeping with the general idea that I often find it easier in life to think about what I don’t want or don’t like than what I do, it’s probably worth setting the tone of what the blog is (or isn’t) intended to be.

What it definitely isn’t, is another of those ‘my hilarious tales of dating!’ or ‘my hilarious single life’ blogs. I think there are quite enough of those already.

Having said that, when you’re thirty-something and single, it’s impossible for the very fact of your singledom not to impact hugely on your life and how you live it. So, I do intend to write about how life from the single-shelf looks.
It’s more likely to be about navigating my through a society where it feels like everyone else is coupled up, than those ‘oh-so-funny’ stories about my dates.
And you certainly see a different view of many of those happy couples when you’re on the shelf.

But, you know, single life doesn’t mean miserable life, it just means different to many of the other people I know.
And I’m not saying everyone is coupled up and I’m the only one making it through the single life. But perhaps there’s a disproportionate number of couples in my life.

Single life also doesn’t mean that everything you do is about dating or relationships, but it does mean you do an awful lot of things alone, where other people do them in a couple or as a family.
You plan things alone, you deal with life’s difficulties alone, you go places alone.
On a Saturday night, when you have no plans, you’re a singleton staying in with nothing to do – not a cosy couple spending the evening ‘chilling’ together.

So your solitude changes you, makes you see the world from a different view. The world sees you differently too. You’re not quite one of them yet, you haven’t quite grown-up, or made it, or achieved what is expected.
Not one person, ever, responds to the news that no, you’re not seeing anyone, with “great!”.
Instead, there’s a rush of “you’ll meet someone!” or “your perfect man is just around the corner!” or “I don’t understand why a girl like you is still single?”.
It is always, always, received as a negative state. A waiting room if you will.
I challenge anyone who lives with the endless stream of vague pity, sympathetic smiles and empty platitudes that you didn’t ask for, not to feel just a teeny tiny bit bitter and pissed off.

So, yes, being on the shelf doesn’t mean you spend your life roaming around desperately looking for a mate, but your singleness does mark you out as different in some way and dealing with all of life’s nooks and crannies alone does feel lonely sometimes.

So, I guess that’s what this blog is about, just going through life as one of the alone ones and seeing the world from a shelf that is just that little bit unconventional.