2016-5_LT-MeMyselfI

Being Single/Music/My Culture

The Emptiness of Me, Myself, and I

I like G-Eazy’s recent hit “Me, Myself, and I” as much as the next person. It’s catchy, fun, and, at first listen, seems to contain a message I’m all about.

I’ve been rocking the single life for a solid 24 years now, with a few brief moments of dating sprinkled in there, so belting along the single-pride hook with Bebe Rexha has happened more than a couple times.

“Wooo it’s just me, myself, and I,
Solo ride until I die
‘Cause I got me for life
Oh I don’t need a hand to hold
Even when the night is cold
I got that fire in my soul”

When this song first came out awhile back, and I tried to master G-Eazy’s sick rhymes, I found I could relate to the lyrics and started to embrace the basic gist of what this song is about:

I can handle life on my own.

I don’t need anyone but myself.

I’m going to look out for me and only me… buy the things I want, go where I want to go, do the things I want to do.

I don’t have anyone in my life to hold me down.

Full disclosure: this initially seems like a great proposition to me! There’s something very attractive about the freedom that comes with being a single person. That freedom though, while it is very good in facilitating personal growth and self-discovery outside of a relationship, can at times (at least in my experience), lead to an attitude of bitterness towards relationships, rooted in a selfishness that can make it very difficult to love freely and authentically.

Let me explain… Being single, I’ve found myself with a whole host of exciting and wonderful opportunities. I can literally do whatever I want. I can go on solo road trips and explore new places, go to my favorite bands’ concerts, visit my best friend in Minnesota, hit up spontaneous dinners with friends, see the movies I want to see, turn my phone off and binge watch Netflix without feeling ashamed, etc. I also have the freedom to talk to or date anyone that I want. In other words, I’m not tied down by any one person so I can do what I want.

When Single Life Turns Into Selfish Life

To some extent, this freedom is a really good thing. I’ve grown to be more confident and self-sufficient, knowing that I live a really good, full, and happy life, without being in a relationship; I know that my happiness and fullness of life is not dependent on another human.

However, this freedom can also turn in on itself and I can begin to think really selfishly, just doing things for myself because I can, and when this happens, the very good freedom of being single quickly becomes a condition that I use to give myself permission to fill my life with the things, thrills, and experiences, that I want.

Unfortunately, when this attitude permeates my life and I consistently think of myself first, I can take on an attitude of bitterness towards committed relationships. I see the things I’d have to give up for a relationship that I cared about and it’s very tempting to cling to my selfishness, rather than recognize the good of relationships. I begin to think that being single and having all this freedom is a better way to live than to be in a relationship.

And the reality is, living a life where you don’t need to make time for another person is probably easier. Living a life where you don’t need to check in with someone before going out with friends can seem more fun. Living a life where you can go from date to date without ever making a serious commitment can be more thrilling. But all those things don’t necessarily make life better.

This is because if I fill my life with enough of those things that I want, without ever needing to share anything with another person, I can begin to be deceived into thinking that those things are enough to make me happy… because, from moment to moment, they very well might make me feel like I’m happy.

However, those feelings come and they go and ultimately, I find myself having done and thoroughly enjoyed the things that I wanted to do, but still unsettled — not truly happy.

How could this be?! I was doing everything that I wanted to do, living the life I wanted to live! Happiness, though, is more than the feeling I get when I’m listening to John Mayer on an epic road trip to Colorado, it’s more than the thrill I get when I’m watching one of my favorite bands perform in a crowded music venue, and it’s more than the rush of independently figuring out life on my own.

When Single Life Becomes a Chance to Learn Selfless Life

Happiness, ultimately, is found in relationship — first in relationship with God and second in relationship with people. God, who in His Trinitarian essence (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit participating in an eternal exchange of Love; see CCC 253-260), is relationship, made us in His divine image, so that we might know the authentic joy that it is to give ourselves away.

There are three important things we can and should do in order to avoid this effect of selfish singleness:

1. Know that authentic happiness comes from a relationship with God, so seek Him before all else.
Sure, other events, possessions, and experiences might allow us to feel good momentarily, but authentic happiness that persists, even when things don’t always feel good, is found in an authentic pursuit of a relationship with God.

2. Make real, selfless commitments because one day, if you have any interest in being in any kind of serious relationship with another person, you’re going to need to know what it means to be courageous enough to commit. Maybe you make a weekly commitment to volunteer at a soup kitchen, or commit to playing with your younger siblings for an hour each day, or commit to waking up ten minutes earlier than you need to so you can spend that time in prayer… There are infinite opportunities to be selfless and it’s in committing to these opportunities that we can let our time as single people be a time to grow; this is because when we make these commitments, we’re making them, not out of a preexisting obligation (we’re single and we technically don’t need to commit anything to anyone), but because we genuinely want to give of ourselves.

3. Share in your dating friends’ joy!
It can be so easy as a single person, to believe that our friends who are dating or in serious relationships are no longer able to participate in normal friendships with us. But that’s just simply not true — sure our friendships with them might take on a different look, but we can still share in the joy our friends find in their relationships; and why wouldn’t we want a little more joy in our lives?!

I know that being single is a truly exciting, thrilling, confusing, and sometimes lonely experience. BUT even more than that, it is undoubtedly a time for growth, as we grow into who we are as individuals — doing and experiencing the things we want — and also as we grow into what it means to be made in God’s image — giving ourselves away in relationship with God and with others.

Trust me, I’m the first to admit that it can be tempting to buy into the “me, myself, and I” anthem and get carried away with taking care of me and only me. But refusing to want or need anyone else and chasing after all of the fake, shiny things that we want in the name of singlehood, while losing sight of the goodness of relationship will only lead us through a cycle of artificial highs and very lonely lows. Don’t waste this time getting caught up in selfishness and bitterness. Use your single time to become the person you were made to be — a person that is free from all selfishness, free from all bitterness, and free to authentically love. #LiveSingleWell

About the Author

Leah Murphy

One time I played a green-bearded dwarf in the musical production of The Hobbit, I eat ice cream with a fork, and I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie. I love doing almost anything with my amazingly wonderful family and my ridiculously incredible friends. Poland, The Summa Theologiae, sunflowers, adventures, and laughing really hard are some of my favorite things. But most of all, I love getting to know and falling in love with Our Lord, who has proven the infinity of his mercy to this weary sinner and whose love for his children is everlasting.