Working at a government-funded probationary high-risk Title 1 “turnaround” school is just as tough as it sounds, and one of the results is a high turnover rate with employees. I’m starting my 6th year of teaching as the English Department Chair (I’m not tooting my own horn here – it was more of a “voluntold” type gig 🙂 ) and I have 5 new-new teachers I’m over. I say “new-new” because they’re all first year teachers, many of them through Teach for America, and new to my high school. Four others are just second year teachers. Yes please, pray for me!
There were 30 new teachers hired school-wide, and quite a few more support staff as well. Needless to say, I’ve been meeting a lot of new people during this “prep” week before the little darlings return on Monday. Surprisingly, I’ve also had opportunities to become better acquainted with returning employees. Today I was able to have lunch with a fellow basketball coach and one of the special education teachers that often CC’s (assists teachers) with mainstream classroom teachers, and the first words of his mouth were, “So how come you’re still single?”
It would not be exaggerating to say that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question, I would have at LEAST a thousand dollars. It was the third time in two weeks I’d hear it, and although I’m sure most people mean it as a compliment, I have to restrain myself from wanting to punch them square in the nose. Somehow the question always takes me by surprise and I find myself too stunned to respond immediately. My usual response is an awkward/nervous laugh while I collect myself. My response today was, “I shake my fist at the heavens and ask that same question all the time.” He, along with many others, haven’t let it go at that. They continue to ask questions, trying, it seems, to find out if there’s something wrong with me. In their minds I must have a secret boyfriend/husband from another country, be homosexual, or have some freakish secret that prevents me from matrimony. Their imagination goes wild I’m sure. They NEVER seem to think that it could be the men in this world, and not me.
When I’d been asked that question around the 500th time, I started to seriously ponder some answers I could give to people that would satiate their curiosity and help them see I really am normal (even though it’s so much fun to make up some tall tale like, “Oh my pimp wouldn’t approve” or the like). I think some of the answers I came up with apply to a lot of singles, male and female, of and outside of my faith. Here are some possible reasons why:
1. Geography isolates you.
I put this first because it’s been true for many people I know, and I know a lot of people from small towns, being from one myself. Although a lot of the geography problem has “been solved” thanks to technology and dating sites, even if one finds a potential mate via a site, chances are they’ll have a long distance relationship on their hands that costs them a pretty penny, lots of time, and can result in internet heartache. I grew up in a tiny town called Hawthorne. My high school, on a good day, had 125 kids. My graduating class was around 30. And I was the only Mormon in my class, one of few in the entire school. It’s important to my faith to date people with the same morals, principles, and values as me, and aside from the fact that I couldn’t date til I was 16, the picking were slim. The nearest town with a larger Mormon population was an hour away, and for a 16-18 year old, that’s a lot to commute for. Many of my friends also find themselves one of few singles in a few cities combined where the Mormon population is much more sparse compared to places like Utah and Arizona. Religion aside, if you live in or work in a small town in general, many don’t want to stay where they are and settle just to check that married box on forms. When it comes to finding “the one” with those odds working against you, you start to wish teleportation was a real thing.
2. Timing works against you.
Let’s face it, there’s a reason “timing is everything” has been around for so many years. Whether you’re religious or not, timing can affect just about everything. Timing has certainly affected me. Once I left Hawthorne to attend BYU, I worked and studied myself to the bone, then left for a mission for 18 months plus 2 summers of working for a total of 2 years, finished a semester after my mission, then went straight into teaching. That’s not to say jumping around a lot equals no opportunity to meet someone, but to MARRY someone amidst all of that was a whole lot less likely for people staying in one place for a long amount of time with little commitments.
3. You broke!
This may seem silly or not applicable, but finances can be a major detriment to nuptials. And I’m not talking about girls not having enough money to buy enough hot outfits or guys not wanting to throw away money on dates. I’m talking work! If I’ve ever had a faithful companion, it’s been my job. From the day I turned 16 until now, I’ve never not had a job (and yes, I know that’s a huge blessing). In high school I worked at a military base and the local grocery store Safeway, doubling up on jobs. When I was in college, I also worked two-three jobs a semester, and when I was home for the summer, I was either working two jobs, or working one job commuting an hour each way each day. After college, I became married to my high school teaching job, working as a Coach, Student Council Advisor, Forensics advisor on top of teaching responsibilities. I also had Church callings that took a lot of time, and I was commuting 45 minutes two times a day to and from work. I barely had time to sleep 4-5 hours let alone date. And in many places, the dating pool was very, very small again. I often wonder if I’d had parents who paid for everything, a full ride scholarship, or some kind of inheritance from my royal blood line how different my dating life would have been. I’m still considering the lottery.
4. You were a late bloomer.
If anyone fits this category of ugly duckling to a tee it’s me, and may be the biggest contributor aside from geography. I beg my mother to throw out any pictures of me from about ages 10-21. There are outfits, accessories, and frozen moments that should’ve never been and should never burn into someone’s memory. Those who know me know I’ve had a long but successful weight loss journey, and I guess the rest of me decided to jump onboard with shaping up too. But late blooming doesn’t always mean just physically, as a lot of the time we’re still trying to figure out who we are, develop our personality, hammer out our flaws, discover what we want and don’t want, etc. I know I’m still figuring all of that out, as are even some married couples! And although this is not a bad thing, it can prevent you from happily tying the knot.
5. You’re waiting for a fictional character.
Movies, books, tv, plays, well, writers in general have ruined reality in a lot of ways and replaced it with the romantic idealism of “Happily Ever After”. Many girls want that perfect sensitive Prince Charming, and guys want their own playboy model. Many people fear they’re settling when they should just wait longer, want to experiment in relationships to better learn what they really want, etc etc. I’ve been accused many a time of being too picky, when really I can count the number of times I’ve been asked out on one hand (I have no shame people). I think everyone wishes they could afford to be picky! Nonetheless, the struggle for contentment will always be there when it comes to picking our mate, and we can only hope the right one will come along and that we’ll have the ability to see it when they do.
The other answer I’ve given a lot of the time comes from when I’ve turned the question back on other people: “Why do YOU think I’m still single?” Although this can be scary to ask, and I’m sure many people have lied to my face out of love for me, the most common answer I get from loved ones or guys who have admitted to liking me later on say this:
I’m too intimidating.
Are there no men with balls left in this world?!
First angry response aside, I swallowed my pride and saw the truth in it. It’s not uncommon for men to be intimidated by a girl who has a college education, a successful career, can pay for everything on her own, speaks her mind, doesn’t have a lot of problems they can fix for you, (nail in the forehead video!), or ( like me) happens to be tall and not petite. I’ve also been told I need to let guys win more often in competitions, especially in sports, video games, and trivia. Again…really?
Although I roll my eyes to all of this, and have failed in every attempt to be fake or someone I’m not, it comes down to this: Someone will love you for you, just the way you are. And they’re worth waiting for.
By the end of our conversation my co-worker shifted gears from telling me if he were my age he’d have totally asked me out and how unbelievably pretty I was, to showing me pictures and basketball videos of his son who he’s planning on setting me up with. To prove my lack of pickiness I agreed to the set-up, tallying the 3rd older gentleman (my dentist and a Church leader being the other two) who has a mission to make me their daughter-in-law. Even though I still don’t know the answer to why I’m still single, and may not find out until the next life, I have faith in a greater power’s timing and am continuing to focus on balance and service in the meantime because for me, happiness is everything.
To my readers, what factors/reasons have you seen that affect availability/being single, whether from your own experiences or what you see with others?