Just Call Me Amy Valentine

I got a notification today. Apparently I have been blogging with WordPress for seven years. That definitely takes the medal for the longest relationship I’ve ever had! Not that it’s much of a competition, mind. You are reading the words of the more serially single person to have ever walked the planet! *and we laugh, because let’s not take ourselves too seriously here, OK?*

I’ve been getting a lot of hassle from people lately about the fact that I’m single. It’s like that quote from Shirley Valentine – a most excellent film from 1989 starring Pauline Collins that you should immediately go out and watch. The quote always comes to me when someone makes a big deal about the fact that I’m not dating.

Funny, isn’t it? That if you’re a woman on you’re own, it doesn’t half seem to upset people.”

My singleness is like a beacon. Like the worst bat signal ever. It means that I have to endure countless lectures from insistent, if well meaning people, all under the guise of “we just want you to be happy”. As if what they want should be more important than how I feel. But really, it’s not about me. It’s about the fact that apparently everyone else knows more about me and what I want than I do. Because if I say I’m fine being on my own, and I’m not looking for a relationship, then it’s clearly nothing more than the sad ramblings of a lonely person who is just saying those things to hide the fact that she wants to be like everyone else. Cue the eye roll and heaving sigh of irritation.

The pushiness always comes with an explanation. It’s the “I was like you once, and then I met Bob…” which effectively means I’m in a position to lecture because one day you’ll be just like me. Or it’s the “I just think you’re running away” which means I can’t comprehend that you and I have differing opinions. Or my personal favourite, the good old “you just need to put yourself out there” which means hey, you better put yourself in uncomfortable situations with strangers and try to force a connection, because the fact that you’re not actively seeking a partner is just, like, really weird, man.

It’s always the same. Like my singleness makes the couples in the world uncomfortable. Because they’re all sooo happy and so everyone else should be too, right? And you can’t possibly be happy on your own, right? It’s infuriating. I don’t want to be set up, or even persistently nudged toward someone that another person has gotten into their head that I would be a good match with. I am 28 and far beyond the adolescent game playing and match making that was rife in my teenage years. And the annoying part is, if I do end up in a relationship with someone at any point, I’m just going to have to endure all the “I told you so” comments that will inevitably follow. There’s just no winning.

I think what it comes down to is a basic lack of understanding. Society has drilled into us that happiness lies in the partner, and the kids, and the white picket fence. But amidst all these romantic notions, the idea of being happy alone is persistently overlooked. Happiness and contentment come in many forms. And for me, that just happens to look like a single woman in her late twenties, just out here trying to live her best life.

Maybe I’ll just follow Shirley’s lead, and run away to a foreign country and enjoy romance with my own damn self. It’s bound to be less taxing than having to deal with the heavy expectations and well meaning demands of the people who keep trying to force their coupledom on me.

On Being Chubby, and Trying to Not Hate It

Loving yourself is not always easy. Forever torn between wanting to accept myself in the body I have, and wanting to change my body/get back to my slender self, self contentedness is like a unicorn; hard to find, and harder still to hold on to.

You could say I have a love hate relationship with my body. There are days when I get dressed and I look in the mirror and think to myself “hell yeah, girl. You look the bomb”. And then there are other days when I avoid mirrors altogether because the sight of my own soft, round body makes me feel disgusting. Especially when I am confronted by photos of myself from a few years ago, when I was smaller and probably far more comfortable in tight fitting clothing! The thing is, where once I would have been described as svelte, these days I fall somewhere in the curvy category. Or, more accurately, I think I am actually smack bang in “chubby” territory. Which is fine…until it isn’t. And the truth is, most of the time lately, it definitely isn’t.

A lot of my close female friends are all about that female empowerment, self love, and not subscribing to mainstream ideas about beauty. They inspire me, constantly. But when I am home, stripped down naked in front of the mirror, there is a big part of me that can’t help the barrage of negative thoughts that flood my brain. I prod my soft little tummy with a finger, I grab at my wobbly inner thighs, my face scrunched in subconscious disdain. Clothes don’t fit comfortably, and I am forever conscious of the way I look, terrified that someone is going to point out that I am extra chubby lately.

It’s a horrible thing, to not feel comfortable in your own skin. And its exhausting trying to be positive about it all the time. Yes, my body is a wonderful and powerful thing, and yes I know that I should focus on the good bits, but sometimes I just feel a bit shit about it. I mean, right now is a particularly bad time, because it’s that time, which means my tummy is rounder, and achy, and I just generally feel a bit awful about everything. I am fairly certain I can be forgiven for not being all self love about things right now, and I am trying not to feel guilty about not loving myself as much as I should. It’s a process, what can I say?

In a society where we, as women, are still inundated with images of impossible standards of beauty, loving yourself can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. But I’m trying. And hopefully I can learn to fully love myself the way I am, chubby body and all.