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What If I’m Single Forever?

I flew back to Canada from London one summer, just after my thirty-first birthday. I was feeling a little bit low; I had recently been dumped by somebody I cared about, and it was the rotten cherry on top of a lousy month.

“I like you too much,” this particular guy had told me one sunny evening over pints, clasping my hands in his. He wanted to travel, to leave London for a while, and how could I not understand, given my own background? To him, at that time in his life, a relationship would be an anchor, and boats with anchors never left the port.

It had been a short union but a good one, and I was annoyed that yet another relationship had unravelled. It was getting harder and harder to justify all these failed romantic encounters in London – hadn’t I always thought that it was the steady pace of travelling in my twenties that kept me from finding that elusive one? I had convinced myself that it was my wanderlust that had stopped me from meeting the right man, the right partner. But now that I had been settled in London for nearly two years, that excuse was wearing thin.

“What if I’m single forever?” I asked my mum.”What if I never find someone?” We were sitting on her Toronto balcony with bowls of pesto pasta and glasses of cold white wine. The June sky was still bright and clear, even late into the evening. I could see the CN Tower rising up in the city skyline. It looked so incredibly removed, as if it were worlds away.

“Don’t be silly, of course you will,” she said to me, resting her bowl in her lap. We sat in silence for a little bit, listening to the sounds of people playing soccer in the park below, the heavy thwack of a ball followed by shouts and cheers. “But…” she went on, “just hear me out. What if you don’t meet someone? What if I were to tell you right now that you’d never find just one person to spend the rest of your life with? What would you do? How would you live your life?

***

I’m now about to turn 33. I still live in London – I’m coming up to four years here – and yes, I’m still single. In fact, I haven’t had a relationship that lasted over six months in about six years. That’s not to say there hasn’t been romance in my life; I’ve had my fair share of travel romances, and I’ve dated a few guys while I’ve been based in the UK (let’s not argue over the definition of “few”, shall we?).

There was Cormac, an Irishman, who was drunk before I even arrived on our date and left me on my own at a bar deep in Whitechapel. There was Harry, a German, who worked for a huge financial firm and bragged about his house in Chelsea, and then divided the bill by who ate more of which course. There was the book publisher Mikey from Leeds who couldn’t stop nervously scratching his head, and, after only one drink, tried to kiss me without warning. There was Josh, a wealthy, older man, who, when I disagreed with something he said, told me in all seriousness that women usually pandered to him.

But there was also Chris, a Welsh journalist with a charmingly crooked smile, who immediately swept me off my feet with discussions of his time in Palestine and his love of Neil Young. And Brian from Brighton, a stockbroker with broad shoulders and an infectious laugh. There was Nick from Glasgow, an accountant who played in a rock and roll band, who’d text me with links to songs every morning. And there was Scott, a tall, quiet romantic, who’d keep me up all night playing records and drinking whisky.

And yet, none of them lasted, sometimes by his decision, sometimes by mine. Nobody ever truly clicked into place.

I’ve been writing a lot about relationships lately, mainly because I see how many people out there relate to being single in this society that still places so much emphasis on getting married, even in 2017. I apparently have a lot to say about it, too. I discussed dating at length in the series I wrote in January, titled My Month Without Alcohol… and Men. In the fourth and final instalment of that series, I talked about how, when I was younger, the thing I wanted more than anything else was a boyfriend. Oh man, was I “boy crazy” (please note, I’m using the past tense here to pretend that I’ve changed… my sister and mum may have different viewpoints). I have wasted so many hours of my life pining over some disinterested bloke who can’t even bother to text back. I, too, fell into the trap of believing that marriage was the end goal. I mean, it’s everywhere: all the Disney movies I grew up with ended in a wedding. All of my heroines growing up got married, too: Laura Ingalls, Anne of Green Gables, Jo March. I mean, I’m pretty sure Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski’s wedding was the highlight of my pre-teen life.

When I was growing up, and even through my twenties, I always believed I could have it all, a nod to my privileged upbringing: the good job, the nice house, the world travels, the loving family. But even though I was independent and headstrong, I believed love was the ultimate reward, that it usurped everything else. When I’d dream of my future life, I pictured travelling and adventure, but I also pictured a partner to share it with. I grew up in the kind of suburban neighbourhood where divorce was still rare, where families drove to the cottage on weekends and sent out Christmas cards plastered with smiling photos. When my parents decided to divorce when I was 19, I was old enough to understand why, but still young enough to have it shatter some of my perceptions of love.

Yet, whenever I dated somebody new, part of me thought that perhaps this man would be the one to change things, to rein in my wild wanderlust, to make me want to stay somewhere for longer than a year or two. To make me want to settle permanently. Part of me thought that I would be OK with that, if only he was the “right man”… completely oblivious to the fact that, if he was the “right man”, he would never ask me to shelve my dreams and ambitions, nor would he want to rein me in or have me change who I truly am. I ignored the fact that I often didn’t feel like myself when I was in these relationships; in fact, I often felt like the worst version of myself when I was in them, needy and insecure. I ignored the fact that I felt most like myself when I was solo, when I was travelling, when I was engrossed in something I really loved, like writing. I ignored the fact that I absolutely love spending time on my own, and that I crave and need a lot of it.

In ignoring all that was truly happening and all that I was truly feeling, I was my own worst enemy.

***

Sitting on that balcony with my mum, I hadn’t expected her to say that to me.

“What if I’m single forever?” I asked myself. “What if I never find my ultimate ‘soulmate’, that person I’ll grow old with? What if I never fall in love again?” These are pretty tough questions to ask yourself.

But then I started asking myself different questions, too, about my life so far. I started looking back at everything I’d done as a single woman.

I travelled through Europe on my own. I lived and taught in Japan on my own. I travelled through Southeast Asia and India on my own, Central and South America and Africa, too. I moved to London with almost no contacts or perception of the city, and yet here I was, with supportive and inspirational friends, with a flat that felt like home. I had finished a master’s degree. I started and maintained a successful career that I loved. And to top it off, I was still travelling frequently, leaving London at least once a month. I was living the kind of life I couldn’t have even imagined when I was younger. I was living a life that was so much better than I had ever imagined, even though there wasn’t a man in sight.

What would have happened if I had stayed with any of the men I’d been with in the past? Would I be married, would I have a mortgage, would I be a mother? Would I be happy? Did I even believe in soulmates, or did I believe that each of us has many different people that may come in and out of our lives? Hadn’t I even met a few of them already?

Two months ago, in Please Stop Telling Me I Just Need to Meet the Right Guy, I wrote,

“In the last 15 years of adulthood, I’ve been single for about ten of them (some of those years by choice, some not). Recently, however, when I started to think about my future – where I’m going to live, how my career is going to evolve, what I truly want out of life – I had finally, finally, acknowledged that, if I don’t get married or have children, I’m going to be OK. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest.”

I’m so sick of the “old maid” trope, the idea that if a woman is single past a certain age she should be labelled a spinster, or that she’ll become a “crazy cat lady”. First of all, I’m a dog person (heh), and second of all, it’s just so outdated and sexist and condescending. Do you know how old Bridget Jones is supposed to be in the first movie, you know, the one where all of her friends and family endlessly talk about her single status, where she’s the butt of every joke, and where she constantly obsesses over finding a man? 32. 32 years old. The same age as me. Like… what the fuck? 

I’m part of the first generation of women who are able and are allowed to be independent; my mother was expected to marry, as was my grandmother, and as were all the women in my family before her. There is still definitely pressure on women to partner up – as Kate Bolick writes, “Whom to marry, and when will it happen – these two questions define every woman’s existence” – but it’s slowly but surely getting better. Generations of women have paved the way for me to be able to have this freedom. And while I have no single friends anymore – every single one of my close friends or family members is in a serious relationship – I have finally reached the point where I am so happy with being single. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for all of my friends, too, but to finally acknowledge that I love my single lifestyle and the freedom it affords me has been such a wonderful thing to happen in my life. I spend so much time alone, and I also live alone, but I love it. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another; we all have our own paths in life.

In fact, as I recently wrote on this blog, my ideal life right now consists of remaining single, of travelling often, and of having the odd travel romance here and there. I have this vision of meeting someone when I’m older, perhaps much older; I have too many exciting plans over the next few years to stay rooted in one place for too long. As this is possibly my last full year in London, I would consider it a very cruel trick on the universe’s part for me to get into a relationship right now.

Maybe I still would have still travelled to 90 countries, most of them solo, if I had been in a relationship. Maybe I still would have written a book (though it would definitely have a different ending… spoiler alert and all that). Maybe I still would have moved around the world, or worked so hard on this business, or gotten a master’s degree. I’m positive there are tons of incredible partners out there who could have supported me throughout all of this; I see these kinds of relationships all around me, and I don’t want to imply that people in relationships can’t fulfil their dreams, too. But some of my past boyfriends haven’t been very supportive of my dreams, and imagine if I had stayed with one of them? Maybe I don’t want the risk of a proverbial anchor, either, not when I’m so happy with how everything else is going.

If someone great comes along, that’s fantastic, and I would welcome it wholeheartedly. In fact, I’m sure I’ll have a few encounters even in the next year (my friends are all betting on my time in Zanzibar in July). But I also know that, if I remained single forever, I’d be OK.

But maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s all well and good for you, but what about me? I DO want to be in a relationship.”

I get that. It’s taken me a long time to reach this stage, and I’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to follow my ambitions (though another added bonus of being single is that you get to decide how to spend all of your money). There’s a mantra I’ve seen going around for a little while now, one that asks people this: “If you knew you were going to meet the person of your dreams in a year, how would you spend that next year?”

And while that’s a perfectly legitimate question, it still presents the reward or end goal as having a partner. I’ve seen people’s responses to that question; they say things like ‘travel’, ‘learn a new language’, ‘take cooking classes’, and ‘try to hook up with as many people from around the world as possible’ (that last one might have been mine, sorry). But here’s the thing: why would meeting a partner prevent any of those things (OK, scratch the last one, unless you’re in an open relationship)? And what happens when the year is up, and maybe you haven’t met anyone? I understand that it’s supposed to be a freeing statement, as in, “stop putting so much pressure on yourself to date or find someone and just go out and do what you really want to do.”

But I’m going to take it one (giant) step further. I’m going to ask you the same question my mum asked me.

What if I were to tell you right now that you’d never find just one person to spend the rest of your life with? What would you do? How would you live your life?

That might be a scary thought, definitely. Trust me, I get sad sometimes, and I get lonely sometimes, too. I feel awful and heartbroken when relationships end, and every time it happens, I’m convinced I’ll never find anyone again (and yet I always do). But finding a loving and happy relationship is one of the only things that is almost completely out of our control. So much of it is down to chance, or down to timing. We can control many other aspects of our lives, but meeting someone – ONE person on a planet of seven billion and counting – who makes you happy enough to want to spend the rest of your life with that person? We can’t always control that, and it’s harmful to put intense pressure on yourself to try to control it. Trust me, I’ve been there.

I’m not saying to give up dating all together; I’d still happily go on a date if the situation arose, and I still try dating sites from time to time. What I’m saying is this: there is so much to life. There is so much joy and fulfilment from so many aspects of life, not just romantic love. If we don’t have a partner, it doesn’t mean we can’t be happy, or follow our dreams, or have great friends, or even have children. Sure, some aspects of life could be easier, and you could argue that some aspects of life could be better, but I’m a firm believer of making the most of the situation that I’ve been given. There’s no point in me sitting around, bemoaning that I’m single, and waiting for a partner so that my life can really begin, or some other bullshit like that. I’m going to get out there and create the life I want to live. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you don’t need a partner to complete you. That implies you were never whole to begin with. A partner would be a wonderful bonus to an already happy life, but coupling up is not going to be my ultimate goal.

And the beautiful thing? When you’re out there, enjoying your life, doing what you love to do, that’s when you start to meet lots of other likeminded people. Romantic partners, maybe, but new friends and interesting people, definitely. Remember what I said about feeling most like myself when I’m travelling solo? There has to be some sort of direct correlation to the fact that I’ve met many of my best friends while travelling on my own. I’ve also had some damn good travel flings, so there’s that.

Do I believe that I’ll be single forever, or even that YOU’LL be single forever? No, I don’t. What’s so exciting about life is that we never, ever know who we’re going to meet that might change everything. But I think it’s pretty empowering to live life knowing that, if we did stay single, we’d be just fine. We’d be MORE than fine. We’d create interesting futures for ourselves. We’d live thoughtful, purposeful lives, ones that are still full of love, even if it’s simply love for ourselves and what we’re passionate about.

I remember what I said to my mum that June evening a few summers ago, when she asked me what I’d do if I stayed single.

“I’d keep travelling,” I answered. “I’d continue to grow my own business, and focus on my writing. Maybe I’d even live in a little house somewhere, get a dog. I’d probably still meet different people to share portions of my life with, from time to time, people from around the world. I’d… I’d be OK, I think. I think I’d be really happy.”

Maybe I’ll never have it all, just like I dreamed of as a kid, but maybe there’s no such thing. Or maybe, we have to redefine exactly what ‘all’ means. Not every story ends with a chapter on finding true love, not every adventure ends with a man under a Tuscan sun. But that’s the thing – I’ve been given the words to this book I call my life. It’s up to me to rearrange them, to edit them into something meaningful, to write my own happy ending. It might look different to the other books around me, but I never did mind being different.

“I think you’d be happy, too,” my mum answered. The late evening hour was just starting to turn the sky a hazy swirl of pastels. Lake Ontario began to glow a warm gold that showed through the gaps between silver skyscrapers. As we finished our wine we went back to our favourite pastime: talking about the places we’d love to visit.

“Kyrgyzstan.”

“Papua New Guinea.”

“Mozambique.”

And when I returned to London a few days later, I sat down at my desk, opened up my laptop, and started to look up cheap flights for another solo adventure, my unpacked suitcase still in the hallway.

 

Further reading:

How Do You Choose? Relationships vs Travelling

Please Stop Telling Me I Just Need to Meet the Right Guy

My Month Without Alcohol… and Men (Part One)

On Ghosting (and what to do if it happens to you)

The Last Time I Saw You (travel romance series)

On Being Dumped, Or, Why I’m Glad That Guy Dumped Me

 

My absolute favourite books on modern dating (affiliate links):

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Spinster by Kate Bolick

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

 

So… what do you think? If you’re single, how would you answer that question? Do you ever feel pressure to be in a relationship?

,

76 Responses to What If I’m Single Forever?

  1. Cate April 17, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

    Firstly, can I say how profound all your writing is, and how I really love your attitude about life. Secondly, I am totally a dog person too! I agree with you, being single forever is a scary thought. I, similar to how you were, am in high school and all I want is that person that will hold you and kiss you and be your best friend and lover. I see it all around me with some of my close friends, and always wonder if I’ll ever get that. I sometimes wonder about my soulmate, because after all the books I read, its impossible to not believe in them. I wonder where in the world they are right now, what they are doing, are they happy are they having a tough life, what language do they speak? However, as much as I also want to meet and love that someone, all my plans for the next decade or two of my life only have travel romances as far as boys are involved. I want to travel as well, live in other countries, travel with my best friend, eat good food, and make a real difference in the world. But how knows? Life has a way of working itself out for the better, and I don’t think we should worry about it, no matter others opinions on the matter. They dont own you or your life. We are strong, independent women who dont need men to make them happy- women all over the world have fought for our rights to lead our own lives, and we should honor that. Not to say that romance is a bad thing, but if it doesn’t happen its not the end of the world.

    • Brenna Holeman April 22, 2017 at 7:48 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comment, Cate – you’re right, life has a funny way of working out, and as I’ve gotten older I have realised that worrying about the future really does nothing positive. It’s better to just live life as we want to live it. 🙂 And you’re right, it’s not the end of the world – not when there are so many other amazing things to accomplish in life! Thanks again x

  2. Eliya April 17, 2017 at 11:32 pm #

    Brenna, you have no idea how much I needed to read this, thank you so much! It was beautiful and inspiring 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:46 am #

      Thank you so much, Eliya, I’m so glad you liked it!

  3. Rachel Taylor April 17, 2017 at 11:32 pm #

    This post is exactly how I feel! I have been lucky enough to live in China and Malaysia the last few years but family circumstances have brought me home to support my mother through illness. Seeing my mother is a reminder to make the most of the present and as a result any downtime I get I want to spend traveling. A relationship wouldn’t be possible right now as it would have to take someone very understanding to be supportive but what is supportive for me is exploring the world and not putting my dreams off for another day. Maybe one day I will meet someone but until then I will keep exploring and keep laughing when someone asks me about my dating life!

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:47 am #

      I love that you mention being present… I totally agree. What is the point in worrying about something in the future that we cannot really control, especially if something is bringing us to the present? Thanks for your comment, Rachel, I think you have a fantastic attitude. 🙂

  4. Barb April 17, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

    This was a great post, thank you. I’m divorced, which at my age isn’t that uncommon (late 30’s), but so many of my female friends have rushed to remarry, whereas I’m like… meh. I want to travel, and I’ve found that I kind of prefer doing that solo. I own my home, I’m doing quite well at saving for retirement, I have two doggers that I love, and most importantly: I’m HAPPY! It bothers me sometimes the way others judge me for not wanting to rush out and get remarried, but I’m glad to know there are some people out there who get it.

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:48 am #

      That is so awesome that you are so happy, Barb! It sounds like you have a very happy, fulfilled life. I’m sure you have many adventures ahead 😀

  5. Sophia April 18, 2017 at 12:00 am #

    Wouaw! Another incredibly good written post of yours. That’s the quality of your writing and its poesy that got me hooked up. And you never disappoint.
    As for the content, I’m happy to see that more and more women take a stand against to preprogrammed social convention of marital life. It’s ok to be married but it’s also ok not to be. The travel blogger This American girl wrote a post about the subject I believe a few months ago.
    Anyway, just wanted to convey how much I liked it and to wish you the best of luck for your next adventure. I expect soon to read some amazing writing about Africa!

    • Brenna Holeman April 22, 2017 at 8:03 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much, Sophia! I really appreciate all of your kind words here. I hope to do my trip justice on the blog! 😀

  6. Paige April 18, 2017 at 12:43 am #

    As usual, this post completely nails the thoughts I’ve been thinking for awhile. I’m from a pretty conservative small town so I’m already an old maid at 25 by the standards of most of the people I went to high school with. And on the other hand, I know people my age who had big flashy weddings a couple years ago and are already divorced. So I guess the whole happily ever after thing just doesn’t seem real to me. I think it’s really scary, actually, for someone to build a life around someone else, when really we’re all individuals at the end of the day? And while there were period of my life (high school mostly) where I cried myself to sleep at night because I didn’t have a boyfriend, and times when I’ve felt like the world was ending after a breakup, at the end of the day I too also am more excited by the prospect of traveling and writing a novel and buying and decorating my own home than having some over the top wedding and getting pregnant. Anyway. I think I’d be fine if I stayed single forever, or whatever. And this is decently morbid, but the women in my family tend to live forever, so chances are I’m going to die single even if I do get married eventually, so, oh well I guess? Lol!

    • Brenna Holeman April 22, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Thank you for your comment and all of your insight, Paige! I feel the same way. 🙂 And yes, nobody knows how life is going to work out so it’s best to just live it the way we truly want to live and not worry too much about things that are out of our control.

  7. Lindsay@ Frugal Frolicker April 18, 2017 at 12:50 am #

    It’s like you tapped into my mind and pulled out this hot topic. I’ve been single almost literally forever, and it never really bothered me until I started spending a lot of time on those pesky dating apps and meeting guy after guy that I just felt nothing for (interspersed with someone here and there who I got excited about but then soon after ghosted, or couldn’t fully be with me due to timing issues). Meanwhile, I see plenty of girls around me who seem to fall into relationships effortlessly. HOW?!!

    It’s like I got caught in this vicious circle of… the more I dated, the more frustrated I got that nothing ever seemed to work out. I was putting in the time and effort – both in dating all these guys AND into continually improving myself and my life – and yet remained perpetually single.

    So now I’m at a point where I’m like… I’m doing most everything I “should” be doing, so if I don’t find someone then there are clearly other variables at play that I can’t control, and I need to make peace with that. I’m going to keep creating and living my fabulous life on my own, and if I do find someone then it’ll just be a bonus, not the end game (she said, with conviction). 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 22, 2017 at 8:07 pm #

      Oh god… I feel you! Dating apps have often made me feel worse about the situation, which is why I much prefer to just live life and do what I want to do (and naturally, I always end up chatting to lots of different people this way). I love your comment – and it’s how I feel now, too! I am totally at peace with it and just excited to see where life takes me, single or not. Thanks, Lindsay! 🙂

  8. veena April 18, 2017 at 2:33 am #

    Somehow your posts always come at the right time for me. The last few months have been a struggle as I have been working on getting over a relationship that just ended. I am no stranger to the single life, and I am generally pretty happy to be on my own, but it has been tough to adjust to a life that no longer has this person in it who I really want to still have around. This post is just what I needed to remind myself that I have gotten over other men in the past, and I will get over this one in time, no matter how much it hurts right now, and I will come out better for it on the other side. Life rarely works out the way we expect it to, but it somehow works out, and that’s what I am trying to focus on. Thanks for somehow always knowing what’s going on inside my head and for finding the words when I sometimes cannot xxx

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:59 am #

      Thank you for your comment, Veena, and I’m sorry that you’re having a tough time right now! It sounds silly, but sometimes when I’m feeling particularly heartbroken about a particular person, I go through the list of all the OTHER people I’ve been heartbroken about. It reminds me that yes, I will in fact get over him, and there will in fact be someone else someday. 🙂 You’re right, life rarely works out the way we expect it to, but somehow it works out. I love that.

  9. Susie April 18, 2017 at 3:34 am #

    This is going to be a seriously long comment, so prepare yourself:

    This post speaks to me on another level haha I’m in this weird life limbo at the moment as I just moved back to the US (not by choice) from London and looking for jobs and it seems like everyone else is either getting engaged or married having babies or buying houses (all of which have occurred on my Facebook feed in the last week) and I’m just like…over here, single, back living with my mom, furiously job hunting (but always wishing I was back in London). But out of all these thing I want, (a job, an apartment, a stable income, healthcare!) a relationship doesn’t make the list.

    Even though I’m 27, I’m been single my entire life. My experience with guys has been not positive. My experiences with guys have been very much like Mikey from Leeds there, trying to kiss me after I’d only just met him and know him for an hour. Like dude, what the fuck?

    Anyways, I spent the last 16 months in London, doing my Masters too, and moved back in January sadly, unable to stay due to the strict UKVI rules.

    But that time was so valuable to me, and I learned so much. Moving to London made my 5 year long goal of living there a reality, and I pursued it solely because I wanted to. Yeah, I could of done what was expected of me by finding a job in the states, but I wanted to live and study in London, so I did. Much like you, I knew not a single person, and moved completely alone. Every day I woke up, not really believing this life was really mine. Waking up in my favorite city, pursuing a degree I enjoyed and traveling Europe and Africa whenever I could. Living in London, building a life there completely alone, getting my Masters degree and traveling to 12 countries, all done alone, without a man by my side.

    I realized that life could be fantastic being single. I could go anywhere, and do whatever I wanted when I wanted. It was a type of freedom I hadn’t experienced before, having been sheltered and dependent on others while I was in the US. And the best part, I didn’t even long to be or want to be with someone. I sought validation in my own travel and accomplishments, not through a partner. (Despite one weekend, when I went to Prague and had a serious crush on my tour guide. A tall, bearded guy, born in northern Spain, raised in the Netherlands but worked as a tour guide while he was in school studying tourism, same as I was. He spoke perfect English, but was also fluent in Spanish, Czech and Dutch. When I returned to London, I spent several days depressed because I was single. I guess I hadn’t even had a crush on a guy in SO long, that then all of a sudden, hey! Here was this person that is actually interesting and attractive and well traveled, that you would actually date, but it can’t go anywhere so cue this hovering raincloud reminding me of my single-ness.) But outside of those few depressing days, I got over it and realized I was incredibly awesome and accomplished in my own right, and didn’t need to seek that in other people. I know so many people who have achieved so much but desperately want to be in a relationship, who constantly sought validation of themselves through another person, not in themselves and what they’ve done. Like you said, they’re sitting around, sad because they are single. Go out and life your life!

    In London, I learned what it was like to be alone, to be comfortable being alone and to actually like it. I ventured off and traveled solo for the first time while studying abroad, which I had been previously afraid to do.

    I think being single is very much viewed as a bad thing in society. When you say you’re single, people are like, I’m sorry. Why be sorry?! I’m like, please don’t be sorry, I’m happy to be single! So many of my friends can’t do what they want because of their relationships which is so sad. I’d want my partner to be supportive of my dreams, and push to do achieve them. My friend, who moved to London before me, ended up leaving half way into her visa because she was too hung up on her ex back in the states. If I did get the opportunity to move back to London, and I was in a relationship at the time, I’d move back to London. If he supported me then that’s good, but if he didn’t, then um bye? Your partner should push you to do the things you want and follow your dreams, not prevent you from doing them.

    In London I also learned so much about if I did get involved with someone what would I want? Being single by entire life, I got to life my life on my own and I got to figure out what I really want in a partner. He’d have to love to travel and love dogs, too. If not, those are deal breakers!

    I always say, my love of travel has given so much to me and has made me more passionate that any man ever has haha! Much like you, I’ve lived a great life, a life I could never of dreamed of, and I think it was because we were single. If I had been with someone, I don’t know if I would of pursued the things that I have.

    Reading this post, I guess I’m like well, what if I don’t find someone? I would like to get married, but I wouldn’t settle on a guy just to be married. I’d happily be single if it was between settling on someone just to be married or be single forever.

    Because I’ve been single for so long, I know myself so well, and I know what I want. I want to pursue a career in study abroad & international education, giving as many students and others the opportunity to travel and change their own life. Travel completely changed mine, and I want to give that to as many people as possible. I want to surround myself with friends who are supportive of me and my dreams, change people’s lives in my chosen career, and put away all of my money to travel as much as I can in my free time. I’d also love to live abroad again too, preferably London – always, always wanting to get back to London.

    I’d be content and happy living life, seeking adventure and exhilarating experiences abroad in my free time, changing lives in my career while inching closer to 30, still single. I’m very much like, well if I wanted to be with someone, I’d seek it out…but I’m not. I’m open to a relationship though, if someone came into my life I wouldn’t shut that opportunity out. But the life I am seeking for myself now fulfills me so much; I’m not looking for a guy to fill a void. And if I do find someone, he’ll just add to my life, but he wouldn’t be everything in my life.

    And if I never got married? I’d live in a big city, and keep on traveling to new places and making friends all over the world and coming home to a bunch of dogs.

    I am so much MORE than my lack of a significant other. I have goals, ambitions, dreams, hopes…and I intend to achieve EVERY SINGLE ONE without someone by my side. Of course I crave that feeling of wanting someone, as everyone does from time to time. But whether that happens tomorrow, in a year, or in five years, cool. Meanwhile? I’ve got shit to do.

    Like talking with my own mom about where I’ll go once I am employed and making money to travel.

    Egypt, the Azores, the Faroe Islands, Machu Picchu….always adding to a never ending bucket list.

  10. Elina April 18, 2017 at 5:18 am #

    I really needed to read this right now. I don’t even know what to comment, there’s so many things I could say. It’s only been a few days since I broke up with someone that I, at one point, thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. And it scares me to be alone again because even though I love the idea of living as a single girl, I know it will be hard because I also love love. But what scared me even more was looking ahead to a life that seemed laid out in front of me, a life that was seemingly what I wanted but that in truth revolved around his plans. I realised I might end up compromising my own dreams, and even though relationships are all about compromises, I asked myself why should I? Being alone is not nearly as scary as having your life planned out at the age of 23.

    The question your mum asked is really good. I don’t think I could ever stop myself from falling in love… But as to soulmates, I never believed there was only one for each, and I guess I want to keep finding as many of them as I can and not worry about settling down. Most of all, it’s so important to be happy alone as well, and I’m currently working on that exactly.

    (This comment might have turned out a bit more deep than it should’ve but screw it, writing evocative pieces like this you always knew you were gonna get replies like this haha)

    • Brenna Holeman April 22, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

      Ha ha don’t worry, I love a deep comment! 😉 It means I (hopefully) wrote something relatable. And I totally agree with what you’ve said here. I love love, too, but not if it means I compromise to the point of losing myself. And you’re totally right – “Being alone is not nearly as scary as having your life planned out at the age of 23.” I think the same could be said about any age! Thanks for your lovely comment, Elina 🙂

  11. Julia April 18, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    I really needed this right now too! Glad to see I’m not the only one (as I can see from the other comments.) Mostly I just get sad/think about it when people ask me about the fact that I don’t have a long-term boyfriend (and I am 23!!) and don’t think about it on other days at all.

    I never asked myself the question your mum asked you, but it really needs to be asked I think. Thank you for writing so candidly about this topic!

    Also, you wrote a book? Any chance that we can read it soon? 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 11:50 am #

      Thank you for your comment, Julia, and I’m so glad that you liked the post!

      Yes, I wrote a book, but it’s not very good. I’m editing it now and trying to see if I should keep editing or scrap it all together and start fresh! 🙂

  12. KUHELI April 18, 2017 at 8:49 am #

    Beautiful. Beautiful. Are we sisters from another incarnation? You wrote what exactly I feel about being single and all. This inner peace of being ok with being alone is truly liberating and empowering.
    Have an awesome single life! 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:48 am #

      Aw, thank you so much! I’m so happy you enjoyed it 😀

  13. Sarah April 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    I was in a 7-year relationship, and now at the age of 35 have been single for nearly 4 years. All the positive things that have happened in my life have happened while I’ve been single, and while sometimes I do feel lonely, I’m more than OK with the prospect of staying this way.

    I feel kind of sorry for people who can’t do things by themselves. I go to the cinema and theatre by myself all the time, which some of my friends find horrifying. But why would I miss out on something simply because nobody else wants to go with me? At the moment I’m watching one of my friends plan a wedding to someone who has emotionally abused her in the past, because to her getting married is better than being single.

    And honestly, I can’t imagine finding someone who would fit into the life I’ve created for myself. I don’t travel anywhere near as much as you, but I do travel quite a bit, and I fill my spare time with language and dance classes, exercise and various cultural pursuits. Friends have suggested that when I meet someone, I won’t want to travel and learn anymore – but why would I suddenly develop a new personality just because I had a partner, and a man who expected me to do so clearly wouldn’t be the one.

    Bit of a rambling comment, but just wanted to say that I’ve been loving all the articles you’ve posted recently on this and related topics 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:46 am #

      Oh no – I can’t imagine feeling the way your friend does, that getting married to the wrong person is better than not getting married at all. 🙁 But I definitely agree with how you feel about being single, and what you think about everything; I love your attitude toward life! “Why would I suddenly develop a new personality just because I had a partner, and a man who expected me to do so clearly wouldn’t be the one”… amen to that.

      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad that you’re enjoying the blog, Sarah!

  14. Katie April 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

    “And the beautiful thing? When you’re out there, enjoying your life, doing what you love to do, that’s when you start to meet lots of other likeminded people.” <– I think that might be the key to happiness. Be happy with yourself, and that's when you can truly find happiness with others — friends or otherwise! Life situations can turn on a dime, and romantic relationships are no different. We can spend a lot of time dwelling on what could've been or what might still be, but then we miss enjoying where we are right now. 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:49 am #

      Exactly. As always, your comment nails it on the head. Thanks, Katie!!

  15. Victoria April 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    Posts like this are why you’re my favorite blogger! I’m still rather young (still in college), and I definitely have the same mindset that you used to have. I have all of these big plans for travel in my 20’s, but when I imagine my 30’s I can’t imagine anything besides a house and a husband and a dog. Hopefully I will have the house and dog part, but the husband isn’t guaranteed!
    So, I’m trying to work past that. What would I do if I never met “the one”? Hopefully I’ll be living a life like yours! Independent, traveling, living in an exciting city, and writing!
    Also, will we ever get the chance to read this book someday? How is the editing process coming along (if you’re working on it, that is)? I’m excited to read anything that you publish!

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:48 am #

      Aw, thank you, Victoria! I’m so glad that you are enjoying the blog. And yes – I think it’s healthy to think about all sorts of options in life… I still think about settling down once in a while! If we all knew exactly what life held for us it might be a bit dull.

      As for the book… I wrote it, and I’m not fully happy with it yet, but hopefully I’ll start editing it again soon! That’s one of my major goals for this year. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted… but thank you so much for asking about it 😀

  16. Taylor April 18, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

    Wow, Brenna! This post was just what I needed and the timing was impeccable.
    Last night as I was lying in my Porto, Portugal hostel bed waiting to fall asleep, hugging my travel pillow for comfort, my brain wouldn’t let go of how alone I was. I’m travelling solo through Europe at the moment, and even though it is amazing and I’m having a great time, for the first time in a long time, I left lonely.
    Then I started to think about what if I was doomed to a twin bed lifestyle forever; what if I never find a guy and can upgrade to a private hostel room, what if… it spiralled from there.
    THEN, when I woke up this morning and saw that your latest post had been published. It made me pull myself up from my metaphorical bootstraps.. feeling, cheesily, not so alone.
    Excellent post!
    Best,
    Taylor

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 11:48 am #

      Hi Taylor, thank you for your comment! And wow – what an amazing adventure you are on right now! Trust me, you’re definitely not alone in your thoughts and your fears… even though I feel really confident most of the time, I still have nights like that! I think it’s only natural; we all feel lonely once in a while, even when we’re surrounded by people we love. I’m sure you’re going to have even more incredible adventures 🙂

  17. Dana April 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m 27, an expat in France, and have been single most of my life. It hasn’t bothered me until very recently.

    Thank you

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:49 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Dana… I hope you have many happy adventures!

  18. Jill Bowdery April 18, 2017 at 10:46 pm #

    I’m 43 tomorrow (ha!) and it’s taken 42 of those years to truly understand that I am happy single. I love my life. Glad to see you having the same attitude – and getting there much quicker than I did! Nobody’s life is perfect, but by getting to travel we have it pretty close to perfect in many people’s eyes!

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:57 am #

      Well Happy Birthday, Jill! That’s so awesome that you love your life – it’s a great feeling. 🙂

  19. Turner April 19, 2017 at 2:29 am #

    You may be ok with that, but I’ll never reach a point when I’m happy being alone. If I were to know with absolute certainty that I would never find someone to love for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t see any point in living. It’s not immature. It’s not unreasonable. It’s accepting the fact that life sucks going it alone, and knowing there’s no end to it just removes all doubt. That’s not going to change for me.

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 10:56 am #

      I’m really sorry that you feel that way, Turner, and it makes me sad to read that you wouldn’t see any point in living, as there are so many other things in life that lead to happiness. That’s kind of how I felt in my early 20s, but as you can see I have quite a different attitude now, so I hope you can one day agree that life doesn’t have to suck “going it alone”. You said it’s a fact that life sucks going it alone, but it’s not, it’s an opinion… and opinions CAN change. My life certainly doesn’t suck despite being single, trust me. 🙂

      • Turner April 19, 2017 at 11:27 am #

        That’s very condescending.

        • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 11:35 am #

          I’m just trying to be supportive and show you a different attitude and way of looking at life. I’m sorry that you find my attitude toward life condescending (and on Facebook, insulting), but I wish you all the best!

          • Turner April 19, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

            I don’t find your attitude towards life condescending. I find your statement that my opinions will change just because they did for you extremely condescending, especially over such a serious decision.

          • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

            I didn’t say they will definitely change, I said they CAN (I even used the same all-caps 😉 ). As I said, I was just trying to be supportive. 🙂

  20. Rose April 19, 2017 at 6:54 am #

    “A partner would be a wonderful bonus to an already happy life, but coupling up is not going to be my ultimate goal.” Thank you so much for this! You couldn’t have said it any better. This is exactly how I feel and have been trying to get my point across to others that don’t understand or agree with my choice because they think that having a partner completes your life or is the ultimate end goal in life.

    I completely relate to how you feel because I also love and crave solitude, and feel more myself on my own than when I’m with someone else. Granted, it may be because I haven’t found the so-called “right person”. However, I love the freedom of being able to book a ticket and hop on a plane anytime I want. Why? Because that, along with discovering new places, is my passion and, much like you, I would not give that up for someone else.

    Thank you, thank you so much again for your post. I’m so glad to be able to relate to you and others on loving the solo journey and not feeling the need to follow the conventional way of living!

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 11:41 am #

      I totally get that, Rose – I need a lot of solitude, and love the freedom of doing those things, too. Thank you so much for your comment, and so glad that you could relate! 🙂

  21. Korii April 19, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    I absolutely loved reading this!

    I just turned 27 on Monday and I can confidently say that I’m OK with being single and I’m OK with the possibility that I may never meet “the one”. Because I have an awesome life full of wonderful family and friends, a great job, more and more travel and my own writing and forays into blogging. It’s a pretty full life!

    What really hit the nail on the head for me in particular was this: “I ignored the fact that I often didn’t feel like myself when I was in these relationships; in fact, I often felt like the worst version of myself when I was in them, needy and insecure.”

    It’s fascinating because I’ve felt the exact same way with a lot of the guys I dated.

    Over the last few months I’ve stopped dating. I like to say I’m dating myself instead, and it’s the first time in a while that I’ve felt alive and like myself again and not some needy girl so hung up on having a boyfriend and it’s freaking liberating!

    Thanks for yet another awesome read. 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 19, 2017 at 11:44 am #

      “Over the last few months I’ve stopped dating. I like to say I’m dating myself instead, and it’s the first time in a while that I’ve felt alive and like myself again and not some needy girl so hung up on having a boyfriend and it’s freaking liberating!” Oh man, I totally get that. It’s taken me so long to get to that point, but now that I have, it’s such a relief! I never felt like myself when I was with (most of) my partners, and I finally realised that it was so much better to be on my own, loving life, than to be in a relationship that was inhibiting who I really am.

      Thanks for your comment, Korii, and keep on having those awesome adventures 😀

  22. Renate @ Renate's Travels April 19, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

    Oh, Brenna. This is so beautifully written, and I can relate in so many ways. It’s like you hijacked my brain for a moment, and put all my thoughts into words. I’m a year younger than you, and my last relationship ended 1,5 years ago – and it was OK. I felt anchored, and all I could think about was my freedom and desire to travel. All my friends and family (and especially people at work..) as me when I’ll settle down, find a man and get some kids, and I just want to facepalm every single time. Is that all that life is about? Truly? I don’t think so. We only live once, and I want to spend my life the way I want to myself. I’m tired of making compromises in bad relationships, and feeling like my entire existence is on hold. I’ve also often found that I am the worst version of myself when in relationships. I truly don’t care if I stay single for the rest of my life (but I wouldn’t say no if the man of my dreams appeared either), because I know I can take care of myself, and live my life to the fullest either way. 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:50 am #

      “We only live once, and I want to spend my life the way I want to myself.” I totally agree. I am so much happier now that I not only live life the way I want, but that I have accepted that I’ll be OK in life, even if I’m on my own. I love your comment so much – I totally agree with your last line! Thanks so much, Renate, this was a lovely comment to receive.

  23. Erin April 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    oh my god I think about this ALL THE TIME!!! I mean, some people out there go through their whole life and never find love. What if I am destined to be one of them? A friend recently got upset with me saying I don’t tell her things anymore (regarding guys) and I must not trust her. The truth is I realized that I was sick of having to talk about it. Every time I met a guy that seemed like it would work out I would tell all my friends, then when it didnt work out I would have to repeat the story of why it didnt work over and over to each person when they asked me about it and honestly its embarassing. It NEVER works out and I got sick of having to explain why. Sometimes when we have our girls nights I feel like a spectacle, because the topic of my dating life always comes up and I get “you must be too picky!” or “what about so and so, he was nice” oh my god its about more than BEING NICE. I hate that comment the most. Maybe they were nice but unfortunately thats not the only criteria for a husband lol…..also, most of my friends are older and have been married for at least 10 years so they truly have NO CLUE about dating in 2017. ugh

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 2:02 am #

      Ha ha – I feel you – it’s always really funny to me when my friends who have been in relationships for a really long time starting doling out advice… especially as I don’t ask for it. Hah. Oh well… I now realise that many people love hearing the dating stories because it gives them a little insight into what dating is like in 2017! I don’t mind being the comedian once in a while. 😉 Thanks for your comment, Erin!

  24. Kathryn April 19, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    Thank you for this article Brenna! Like a lot of others said it was good timing for me too. I am currently at a cross roads again having just finished a ski season(always wanted to try one), and heading back to London to work out what next again! And all the things in my mind involve travel haha! But I am almost 38 and often get down about being single when everyone around me is not and I want to meet someone to share my life and travels with I really do. As I get older the panic of the biological clock is an added pressure to all the pressure in the first place! But Iike you I have travelled alot and lived and worked in many places and ive never had to think twice as Ive only had to think about me. Just the other day when I was having a moment I did think..well maybe its just not time for me yet as there are still so many things I want to do and I love the freedom of doing them whenever I want. Its never simple though is it. I really hope one day I do meet a fellow adventurer to continue adventures with but if not, like you said, we just need to keep on living and doing the things we love. Thanks for such a great article Brenna 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 2:00 am #

      Thank you so much, Kathryn! I sometimes think about that, too – that it would be nice to share some adventures with someone – but I also know that there are so many other great things in my life, and I love that I’m actively working toward accomplishing my goals. Here’s to many more adventures… and good luck with the next exciting chapter of your life!

  25. Georgette April 19, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

    I am not into commenting blogs & articles, but definitely this one is worth it. Brenna, it looks like u stole every thought I have been nurishing & working on my whole life. It’s hard sometimes to go against the tide but I guess it s been the best decision I have made so far. I believe no body should settle for less in life. We have to look after our dreams and be the best version of ourselves, because once we take a step toward, it s hard to go back. So we have to choose wisely always heart and mind in harmony.
    Really appreciate ur beautiful job. I am sure u r making a difference! Keep going 🤗🤗

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:53 am #

      Aw, thank you so much, Georgette! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I also believe that nobody should settle for someone else, and that it’s important to try to be the best versions of ourselves, no matter what path we take in life. Thanks again!

  26. jo ann Lawery April 19, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

    I love reading your blog Brenna, one of my faves. When I turned 30 years old I cried at my on birthday . My brother and sister , who were older had a wife, a husband and children . I didn’t date that much and I just thought I would be an ” old maid ” lonely and wondering what I’m doing wrong. My sister told me to stop it because life gets better the older you get. 34 years lster, my sister , may she rest in peace , was oh so right ! I’m still not married but I am so enjoying life. I have been to Malaysia , Singapore , Australia twice , London , Canada and not to mention so many places in this country . Don’t get me wrong , I do like the company of men and as a woman who LOVES sports , I’m always meeting guys . If you’re single forever , SO WHAT ? ! It’s not the end of the world , learn to love yourself . When the right guy comes along trust me , you’ll know .

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:58 am #

      That is an awesome attitude toward life, Jo Ann! Thank you so much for sharing your story here… I wish you many more adventures and a lifetime of happiness 😀

  27. Daniel April 20, 2017 at 12:49 am #

    Love your posts and your blog!
    I’m in a long lasting relationship and I travel when I can, but I totally understand your attitude. I pride myself in being fairly independent and encourage my partner to pursue whatever activity that makes him happy, even if it’s taking time off the couple. I despise whoever in the years told me “you’re going to get married soon, you’ll want kids, it’s what every woman does around your age”. Well I’m not every woman, and I have my own plans to pursue happiness!
    I consider myself lucky to have found a partner that shares my values and encourages me to continually grow, learn and improve and who loves to travel with me, but I feel if I didn’t find someone like him I would have been fine too.
    Thanks for putting your thoughts into so nice words 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:54 am #

      That’s so awesome! How wonderful to meet someone who you connect with and who totally gets you. Thank you for sharing your story here, and I love your attitude toward life. 🙂

  28. Katie April 20, 2017 at 6:53 am #

    Yes, I love this! I am actually in a relationship with a wonderful man that has the same values and alternative lifestyle as me and I do feel very lucky to have found him… BUT if I was single, then there would absolutely be nothing wrong with that either. One isn’t better than the other – being single or in a relationship – they are just different and can be equally fulfilling. I feel the same way about the choice to have kids. Our joy is our own and it is up to us whether we are going to be happy and fulfilled in life or not

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:51 am #

      Totally – one isn’t better than the other. And I love that: “our joy is our own”. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Katie!

  29. Marlee April 21, 2017 at 9:27 pm #

    So grateful for this post. Being on my first long-haul solo trip, having literally just turned 33 two weeks ago and having to come to terms with going home in a couple of months, I’m asking myself some big questions. I didn’t know quite how to put all of my feelings about being single, being 33 and actually being supremely happy into words and you’ve done it perfectly for me. So much so, I feel much better prepared for all of those looming inquiries when I return from my travels and outside of “did you have an amazing time?”, I guarantee that most questions will be about love, dating and relationships. Which is completely fine as that is a topic we can ALL relate to; however, I know many of my friends and family expect that I would fall in love, meet the “man of my dreams”, etc… I haven’t and your eloquent writing along with those big questions your mum asked have given me a much more solid foundation for not only responding to all of those relationship questions when I return home, but to how I will approach my life moving forward. I can’t tell you enough just how good that feels at this very timely moment, so thank-you (and thanks to your mum!). Cheers!

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:57 am #

      Aw, thank you so much, Marlee! I’m really glad that you could relate to the post and I so appreciate you taking the time to comment. Here’s to a very exciting life of adventures ahead, no matter what path we take! 😀

  30. Dulcie April 23, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

    Hey! I’m the same age as you and a similar mind-set with regards to travelling and this echoes my thoughts and feelings entirely. Really happy that you’ve put it out there in this post, as we are often portrayed as sad lonely spinsters without purpose. For the record, I detest Bridget Jones!! I am content to do my own thing for now and despite sad/lonely moments, I am acutely aware that a relationship is not the be-all and end-all for now. I love that your mum asked you that, it’s a great point for contemplation. I hope to find love someday but I also endeavour to continue travelling and learning about the world. I feel happiest when meeting new people, making new friends and exploring the world. You seem to be living the dream! I wish you every happiness xxx

    • Brenna Holeman April 24, 2017 at 1:55 am #

      Thank you so much, Dulcie! Yeah, I have my ups and downs with Bridget, ha ha. I am also totally content to do my own thing right now. 🙂 Thanks again, and I wish you all the happiness in the world, too. x

  31. Kimberly April 24, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

    Hi Brenna. Another great piece showcasing why I love your blog.

    My choices took me down the opposite road. I got married, had kids and found myself wondering what life would have been like if I had followed those crazy travel dreams of my youth. Instead I wound up in an unhappy 25-year marriage that ended badly. I finally found true love at the age of 44. No matter which way you go I think you always question what might have been. I’ve come to realize that most of life is out of your control. Good things happen, bad things happen. True happiness comes when you appreciate the gifts of family, friends and interesting pursuits and remain open to the mysterious unfolding of your life. At 33, you seem to have that part covered. Like our beloved countryman, Gord, sings, “No dress rehearsal. This is our life.” Whatever road you choose, know it is the right one and it will lead you exactly where you need to go.

  32. Mo April 26, 2017 at 3:14 am #

    Wonderful piece! I love your writing on dating and relationships. Let’s face it; it’s everybody’s favorite topic, and we can all relate on some level. I’ve had the opposite experience of yours: I’m not recently single after being in a relationship for almost a decade. It’s the first time I’ve really been single, and so far, I’m loving it. I’m 29, so it is a strange time to be newly single and living abroad, since most of my friends are married and in my home country, but I am appreciating the new freedom and self-discovery that’s coming with being single.

    • Brenna Holeman April 27, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

      Thank you so much, Mo! I totally agree – I love the freedom and self-discovery that comes with being single. 🙂

  33. Yoko (Beyond Adventurer) April 29, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

    HI! I am also originally from Canada (grown up most of my childhood and young adult life there) and I am in the same shoes as you! I am somewhere in mid 20’s. I am currently in Finland, finishing my Master’s degree, just because I hated working in Japan as an IT “office lady” and I wanted to pursue Master’s degree as I have always wanted to, and travel the world. While in Finland, I have been travelling a lot this year since January – on and off from school, just because my schedule is too flexible and I need life. I never had a relationship before, probably because I am always afraid of it and did not want to settle down I suppose. While I was travelling, I had lots of quick travel romances, which could be dreadful since I am the traveller and I am usually confused with mixed messages, but I am learning from them, so I don’t regret though I surely miss those times. So yes, this how I landed on your blog – I was wondering if I am the crazy one who has not idea where she wants to live or settle down, so always moving (I have not yet found a place where I want to live). Actually, I am debating whether I should do a PhD or just go travelling! (I have many many interests and goals that I want to accomplish – I think the problem is where I get that much money to travel!)

    Anyways…I am glad to find your blog. Glad to see there are fellow people out there like me!

  34. Sooshmita May 4, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    aww Brenna I love you and I love this artcle so much. Recently I had this conversation with my sister and unfortunately my family are so ingrained with asain culture and islam that they find it so diffciult to understand me. my sis encouraged me to go back to me ex saying its very hard to find a man as there are so many single women and my reply to her was I rather be single and happy than feel like I am trapped. she was so surprised asking don’t I want kids and although I do love kids I don’t need to have biological kids I can adopt as a single mother when I am ready to. Like you I am not against relationship but when I shared my thoughts to my sis her response was I am so weriod which I did not expect from my sis but this is something my mum will say. but one thing for sure I starting to live my life as an authentic person even if it means society will be disappointed in me 🙂 I wish you all the best and thank you for showing us we are all normal despite the differences xx

  35. Zalie Holeman May 15, 2017 at 2:05 am #

    For some reason I thought I had commented on this post as mom and I read it together! Keep on doing what makes you happy sister, I am so proud of you for following your heart!

  36. Chelsea May 19, 2017 at 2:57 am #

    Oh my goodness. Brenna, thank you for this. I feel like you and I are in such similar places. I’m 34 less two weeks, a freelance writer, Canadian and currently living at home in Canada. But I have so many plans for the next few years, and never in my mind do those plans have a dude with me. I don’t know if they work if there’s a dude with me. And I’ve gotten to a place where I’m cool with that. Unfortunately it’s taking my parents and some other people in my life time to catch up, and I’m so sick of explaining to people that I’m not with anyone and that’s okay.

    Thank you. I imagine I’ll be coming back to read this again when I need an external reminder of why this life I’ve chosen (or become pretty f’ing jazzed about, at least) is right for me, at least right now.

  37. chewy May 23, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

    Really great piece, Brenna! I am turning 32 and it’s great to see in the comments many others who are going through similar things. I think this is so difficult as a woman, that we on one hand embrace our privileges and opportunities but on the other also still have the age old burdens of societal pressures to find a person to marry. My mom has often said that her “job” isn’t done until there is a good man who will take care of me. She’s changing, but it’s a strange concept to her still that I may remain single for much longer.

    I’ve also come to accept that I may or may not find someone what I would like to live the rest of my life with, or even that it is possible to find such a person. Thankfully, I have friends who are likeminded, and also understand what that feels like because they are living it too.

  38. Sofia June 13, 2017 at 12:35 am #

    You are an amazing writer 🙂 hope to one day be as good as you, I write a lot about finding yourself and being a whole first (and finding another whole), no my other half person talk. And about seeing the positive and lessons in everything.

  39. Cathie - australia July 10, 2017 at 11:36 pm #

    Well I only found this blog this morning via pintrest, “clothes to wear in India” which is on my list for next year.
    However as somebody on the other side of this equation I had to comment. I have been married almost 30 years, to the man I met on my first overseas trip. Life and two children curtailed our travels for awhile, but in the last 6 years we have been able to once again travel overseas, sometimes with our children and sometimes with out.
    Nobody really has it all. Not at once anyway. If you are lucky life is long and you get to experience everything you want. Maybe not in the way you expect. Relationships are compromise that’s for sure. In a good one both of you will compromise. I put my desire to travel below my desire for children and a stable life for them and so did he. Our24 year daughter has just returned from 2+ years of traveling and working and is probably feeling the same as many of you.
    You can be lonely in a relationship, many of my friends feel they get a stronger emotional connection from the women in their life than their male partners. A partner is not the be all to end all. It’s great if you’ve got a good one, but good friends are certainly on par. Certainly my hope for my children is a partner that makes them happy. I know some older people that are single and very lonely. That is due more to the small life they have lived than being single. Be open, and flexible. I think the most difficult thing is when you only have to please yourself for a long time your willingness to compromise is in short supply which makes it hard to put up with somebody else. I often think if I had travelled longer on my own I would probably still be on my own as I would not have learnt the give and take required for a relationship. Mine is not perfect, but we are still working on it, and still travelling – 10 weeks this year in Spain and Italy yaay. Great blog, will be reading lots more for sure.

  40. Margot August 9, 2017 at 2:39 am #

    Thank you for your words.

  41. Alodia August 14, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    Gosh I love your blog.

    Everything you say reasonates with me and I identify a lot with who you are. I am 29 year old, and like you (although a lot less) I have travelled around the world. I have lived in 5 different cities, in three different countries. I am single and my relationships have never lasted too long. All my friends are in serious relationships. I am the odd one. Part of me believes it’s because the man I am meant to marry – a.k.a Leonardo Dicaprio – hasn’t met me yet.

    In all seriousness, I get broken-hearted very often, I do feel lonely and I am afraid of ending-up alone. But I have started to feel and think like you. My path is just different. I am blessed for the things I have accomplished and I often think I couldn’t have gone that far, had I settled with a guy. And who knows what life will bring. I am completely free to do whatever I want and go wherever I want whenever I want, to change my life completely, without needing anybody’s approval or support. It’s a priceless thing.

    Thank you for this blog. It feels so good to read you.

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