Why is it my new ward makes me feel like I have a giant unicorn horn attached to my forehead? The reaction to a happy 31 year old single woman seems to one of quizzical awe or audacity and fear.
"DON'T TOUCH THE UNICORN!"
Seriously. It's like being single makes us some kind of exotic, bizarre commodity to trot out and sell tickets for or lead in a parade, OR...you're exotic, bizarre and they don't quite know what to make of you so they keep a safe distance and suggest forms of fencing.
You're either outlandish and a danger to society or some kind of oddity not to be trusted. Where this impression comes from, I'm not quite sure, since it could be a number of things.
1) Maybe you're "too old" to be single and should have been reproductive by this point in life.
2) Maybe you don't consider yourself "too old," and are having a pretty great time with no regrets. (Shocking. The audacity.)
3) Maybe you're too cute/fun/youthful to be single. (Because only fat, ugly ogres who never leave the house are still single, right?)
In addition to all this, my candor and "joi de vive" has been embraced by others with such gusto that I have been asked to represent the underrepresented. The single women who are tired of being represented as "single women," who require fixing and who want to be recognized as whole individuals taking part in a community think that I need to run some sort of "Hilary for president" campaign and demonstrate how okay it is to be "over the hill and spunky." Like one of those red dress & purple hat sisters in their 60s.
To be honest, I don't want to be either. I am tired of taking one for the team. I am tired of being the example. I am tired of serving my time as "the older girl who's still cool." Even hearing myself say such things, I think, "That's ridiculous! We ALL serve and we all make sacrifices! Don't be so selfish. Think of Sheri Dew." Unfortunately, that was what I was most looking forward to as being part of a family ward. Selfishness. No required socializing and lingering longer. No micromanaged social life. My time would be mine and the Lord's alone. I could go for the sacramental renewal of my covenants and gained spiritual enlightenment and then just go home. If I wanted FHE, I'd have a family. If I wanted a date night, I'd date someone. I don't even really want more women friends anymore and girl night is SO over for me. And I really don't want to be told what to do or where to spend my time; especially when the options are (ironically) completely self-indulgent. "Let's play games!" "Let's have a party!" "Let's blow things up in a microwave!" Sorry, kids. I'm not a kid anymore. And I don't want to be treated like one. I'm a bad-attitude Betty now, and I don't even care. I am not going to allow the church culture to become my automatic default for who I hang out with and I don't want the activities I participate in to be dictated by a schedule designed around frivolous games with people other people think I should click with simply because we are peers. If I participate in an activity, I'd like to make a contribution. I'd like to serve my fellow man. Maybe part of our dissatisfaction with "singles wards" is that the cultural socialization expects to make us be just too damned selfish!
Everything revolves around socializing...but haven't we learned that true happiness comes not from temporary thrills, but a deep commitment to serving others? Isn't the best way to foster a relationship with God to take time to read and study His words and then take time to ponder and wait for an answer? That we only learn the true nature of God through these steps, and that it is this way which we learn and develop our personal relationship with the Lord? Why do we think human (read: romantic) relationships would be any different? Which begs the question: Why are we filling our time with busy-ness and not allowing enough time for stepping back, going out, and genuinely attempting to learn more about each other one-on-one?
For once in my life, I have no solution here. For once in my life, I feel entirely selfish and irritable. I am no unicorn. I am a grizzly. And if one more of your sticky handed children reaches out to touch me, or if you dare to reach your curious little paw too close, I am liable to bite it off and then turn and saunter off in another direction, flattening forests on my way out.
Any suggestion for solutions? I want a serious attitude adjustment. For the safety of others. Because I am increasingly uncomfortable being the unicorn. And my money says, so are you.