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.

Nothing of Me

I have a quote tattooed on my ribs, by Chuck Palahniuk, back when his writing was cutting and edgy, and full of vitriol, and good. His more recent novels have been amongst the worst books I’ve ever read, but there was a time when he was at the peak of nihilism and barely contained rage. Those books are amongst the best books I’ve ever read, so I guess it balances out in the end. Regardless of his waning talent, there was a quote I read in one of his earlier novels, titled Invisible Monsters. The quote reads “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.” I liked it so much that I went out and got it inked into my skin forever.

Image result for invisible monsters

Like much of Palahniuk’s earlier works, Invisible Monsters brought forth questions that teenage Amy was determined to seek answers for. Certainly, I wondered how I would have been different if it were not for the people around me, and their ultimate influence. I still think about it today, which I suppose is why I got tattooed in the first place. I often wonder how my life would have been altered had I never met my best friends. Or if my bookshop had never closed down. Or if I had have moved away and not ever come back. I think about the bands I like, the movies I’ve seen, the books I’ve read. And I wonder whether I would have had those same interest if I had have been born in another time, in another country, or even to different parents.

It’s easy to ignore the influence of other people, or pretend that it doesn’t exist when you’re determined to come across as independent. But even the most self certain people in the world have taken some measure of influence from the people around them. It’s impossible not to. Every discussion you ever have with another person is an opportunity for them to introduce you to a new way of thinking, or a new interest that you may not have previously had. And you hold that same power when you talk to other people. Maybe you make a statement and the person you’re talking to suddenly had their eyes opened to a new idea that they had never considered before.

I grew up listening to music from when my parents were teenagers, the music that they brought with them into adulthood, and parenthood. Would I have loved music from the 70’s and 80’s if I had not had that particular influence from the very moment I was born? Would I have come to find a liking for it entirely on my own, if it was not something I had developed an interest in as a direct result of my parents? These are the questions I find myself thinking at least semi regularly, when I wonder if my life would be better if. Admittedly that whole grass being greener thing is just a matter of perception, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering how I got to this point as the person I am. Who influenced me, who made me? The answer is probably everyone, myself included. I am not a person made of nothing, I am a person made from every experience, every interaction, every thing.