Lifestyle

Being single isn’t like being lost

Following five years of singledom, Brydie Lee-Kennedy is one half of a couple, which is lovely, but in no way essential to her happiness or adventures.

Illustration by Claire Jones.

Illustration by Claire Jones.

“It must be such a relief,” she said, as she poured me another glass of wine. “Uh huh… wait, what must be a relief?” I asked, having only been half listening as my attention was pretty focused on the imminent wine.

“Finally finding someone, you know?” She leaned in, conspiratorially, “after so many years in the wilderness.”

Now, I’d love to tell you this family friend was speaking literally. This would have been a totally acceptable thing to say if I’d crash landed in the jungle a decade ago and had been alone ever since, existing on a diet of berries and endangered tree frogs before eventually being rescued by a passing helicopter or, even better, being tracked down by Wonder Woman, granted honorary Amazon status and invited to join the Justice League and… nothing like that had happened. I’d just been single for a while.

I fell in love last year with a very kind person who I hope to keep hanging out with for the foreseeable future (I’d say the rest of my life but I recently heard some very convincing arguments about the Singularity, so I now know better than to plan too far in advance).

“I had terrible sex and great sex and lots of in-between sex. I had a competition with my housemate to see how long we could go without removing any of our body hair and I won.”

Falling in love was a lot of things – fun, challenging, thrilling, kind of expensive in the early stages – but it wasn’t “a relief”. I’d been single for about five years, but I wasn’t starved of affection. I wasn’t staggering through life in a state of relationship dehydration, desperate to drink from the cool cup of coupledom before it was too late and I collapsed, shriveled and gasping, in Spinster Desert.

In fact, I was experiencing the best years of my life.

This half decade of unabashed independence came after two years in a terrible relationship, which I was lucky to get out of with (most of) my sanity intact.

If my adult life contains a wilderness at all, it’s that relationship, not the time that followed. Once I cleared those trees, I started to really have fun.

I toured Australia with comedy shows. I spent long days reading on beaches with my phone turned off. I lived alone for a while and cooked dinner for myself in my underwear with the radio up really loud. I answered panicked texts from friends at 3am and sent a few of my own. I wrote. I drank tequila in LA, swam naked in Spain, melted on New York streets, found out how much the morning-after pill costs in Scotland and rode a horse through Icelandic hills.

I moved to England and met extraordinary people and realised one of the joys of adulthood: the ability to build a social circle, rather than accept the one that is thrust on you through circumstance.

I figured out what made me good and bad at my chosen career. I flew to Florida to meet my baby niece. I missed home. I wrote some more. I dealt with my first London winter by spending so much time at the gym that my thighs became huge and impressively solid. I dealt with my second London winter with cheese.

“Any time you pity a woman for being single or congratulate her for finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re contributing to the idea that she is made more valuable by an outside party.”

I was in and out of work and went into too much debt and then got out of some of that debt but that didn’t last long. I had terrible sex and great sex and lots of in-between sex.

I had a competition with my housemate to see how long we could go without removing any of our body hair and I won. I was vegetarian and then I wasn’t. I was happy and I was sad and my life was filled with colourful things. I saw a lot of sunrises, for various reasons.

Time spent alone – and ‘alone’ is inaccurate here because it implies that friends and family and random shags and colleagues and the guy who makes your coffee in the morning are irrelevant – isn’t time wasted. Or, it needn’t be.

Any time you pity a woman for being single or congratulate her for finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re contributing to the idea that she is made more valuable by an outside party.

Have adventures. If one of those adventures is a romantic partner (or if a lot of them are), then enjoy. If not, I really do recommend horse riding in Iceland.

@BrydieLK

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Written by Brydie Lee-Kennedy

Brydie is a Sydney-raised, London-based comedian and writer who has never met a Buffy reference she couldn't shoehorn into conversation. @BrydieLK