Thursday, January 16, 2014

perk #5 – wider social circles

It’s been over two weeks since my last post, and I struggled to figure out which perk I wanted to write about next. Lately, I’ve been really eager to meet new people and to expand my social circle. I think the reason for this newfound desire to meet some fresh faces, came about over the last month or so when I would flip through my phone contacts to see if anyone wanted to do something that day. Then it hit me. The majority of my friends these days are married or married with kids.

Now while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is difficult to call up these friends at the drop of a hat and see if they want to go out to eat or catch a late movie. These are the friends I have to preplan days, maybe even weeks in advance to catch up and spend some quality time. While I have many couple friends that are near and dear to me, it doesn’t exactly make it easy to maintain close friendships.

The other side to that coin, is that married couples, particularly those with children, tend to hang out exclusively with other couples. Don’t get me wrong, there are always exceptions, and I can think of several couple friends of mine that don’t fall into that category. But for the most part, it’s the truth. Couples do not necessarily hang out with single friends very often. They will occasionally, or lunch dates will be planned in advance in order to spend some one on one time with single friends, but if we’re all being honest and real here, you know that I’m right, and I doubt many would disagree unless they are that exception-to-the-rule couple. It’s just the natural tendency to want to hang out with those in a similar life stage, and I get that.

However, those of us that are single and a little older tend to get the short end of the stick, because it appears to us that somehow we are the only single person our age around. It seems like I blinked and most of my social circle fizzled out because they gravitated toward what is similar to themselves. Sitting here, trying to put myself in their shoes, I can see why it works for them. I really can. And I am sure that one day I will find myself in the same position.

Or….perhaps I will end up being an exception-to-the-rule couple. If I’m being completely transparent, I kind of hope I will be an exception. i can think of a number of reasons for this. For one, I feel like there is a freedom in singleness that correlates to the idea of youth. Why wouldn’t I want to be friends with singles that made me feel young, free, and like the world is still wide open? Not to say that it would make me dissatisfied with married life, but I can imagine it would make me feel youthful. Who doesn’t want to feel youthful for as long as possible? Another reason is that the longer I wait for the next chapter in life, the more I realize that when that day does come, I want to encourage other single women that they are not alone in feeling the same things I felt. I want to be able to share these same perks and tell them to live it up, because I will know that the things I am writing about now will change drastically when they are married. I hope to be that same encouragement now, but it will be a different kind of encouragement from the other side of the fence. I hope that when I turn the page to this story, I will go out of my way to make sure the single friends in my life are not set aside for something that is seemingly more important.

This perk is not intended to be a jab at couples. I’m not saying that all of my married friends have cast me aside. That is not the case. I know where I stand with those wonderful couples, and I am so unbelievable grateful to have them in my life, and to have examples of godly marriages that I can look up to, and one day emulate. The point of this perk is mainly to point out that this phenomenon happens, and as a single girl I need to step up my game and take advantage of the unique opportunity I have at this stage in my life.

being unattached gives me a greater chance to widen and maintain my social circle. I make new friends at work all the time, especially when I train most of those that walk through our office doors. At church, I have the time to join multiple community groups and forge new friendships there. I have very different groups of friends, and so many more friends to make or get to know better. I know so many interesting people and I have many acquaintances I look forward to learning more about. So knowing that I have the time, means, and freedom to cast out my “social net” and meet some awesome new people, I need to get out there. I’ve been spending lazy weekends at home not doing much of anything. In my defense, I hate winter and the cold, and it makes me not want to leave my house. I’m much more social in the summer…my favorite season that makes me feel so incredibly alive. But I digress…

what I’m saying is this: I need to be out there cultivating new friendships. Cold weather is not going to be my excuse. I have the freedom to drop everything and run out to meet people for dinner, see a ridiculously late movie, take a random day trip to Charlottesville or Roanoke, and if truth be told, I’m not making the most of this freedom. And that’s on me. If you’re single and you hang out with more friends than you even have time for, my hat is off to you. enjoy it and live it up. But If you’re like me, and tend to act like you’re an old man or woman on a Friday night because you’re tired from an early day at work, then I’m telling myself and telling you to start finding ways to expand your social circle. I already have a few people in mind that I’ve met at work or church that are awesome people, and have no idea why I haven’t asked them to hang out so I can get to know them better. I’m going to stop making that mistake, and I hope you will too.

So here’s to the beautiful freedom of singleness and the prospect of beautiful friendships. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

perk #4 - to travel is to live

i have a serious case of wanderlust. i have always desired to travel and experience the world for myself. seeing photos of faraway places has never been good enough for me. i want to know it firsthand. I want to stand on the ground where history has been made, see for myself what pictures cannot convey, and leave knowing that another place is no stranger to chelsea davis.

if i may quote belle from beauty and the beast, "i want adventure in the great wide somewhere. i want it more than i can tell." i can empathize with belle. travel and adventure get my heart beating faster. it’s a true love of mine. i love being able to say that i have experienced something at least once. in the last 9 years, i have traveled to london, paris, rome, montreal, jamaica, dominican republic, peru, and india. and those are just the foreign places i've been. i love american history and the cities i've been able to visit here as well. i am truly blessed to have a traveler’s heart and to have seen so much already. and it isn't enough. i want more. this world is so beautiful, and i want to see as much as i can. so many wonderful memories, and so many more ahead, Lord willing.

some of my favorite memories from these wonderful places…standing 10 feet from queen elizabeth II as she drove by and waved to us…getting lost on a train in paris, and turning around to see the eiffel tower sparkling as it does every night…seeing the sistine chapel…swinging from a tree into the black river in jamaica, then our boat getting caught in the pouring rain on the way back…laying on a picture perfect beach in dominican republic…seeing the deepest and most gorgeous canyon in peru…having to go to the bathroom on a cement floor in a dark room in india (i’m still laughing about that)…not to mention the wonderful people i've met, especially on the missions trips.

God has allowed me to see so much of his world, the beautiful, the broken, and the hurting. my eyes are wide open to both the evil and the good in this world, and i am better for it.

all of that to say, with the new year i am ready for some new adventures. i already have at least 4 trips i would like to take this year to visit some friends in boston, nashville, NYC, and orlando. and you might be wondering how this ties into the perks of being single. well, it really comes down to finances and freedom.

travelling is expensive. if it wasn't, then more people would do it more often. just last night, i started working on crunching numbers for these 4 trips. thankfully, being single and kid free actually works in my favor. my costs are much lower with one person. i am able to stay with friends and skip out on hotel costs, i can share gas costs with a friend, my food budget will only include one person, and i only need to purchase a single ticket for any outing. married couples will need double the budget, and add some kids in there and we could be getting into a thousand dollars or more depending on the destination. yikes! i don’t know if i’d be able to stand having to raise that much money just to travel somewhere new, unless it was out of the country.  

after crunching numbers, the next issue is having the time and freedom to go. being single, i can just go. i don’t have to think about anyone’s schedule except my own. i can take a weekend and skip town whenever i hear a new city calling me to explore all it has to offer. no having to coordinate schedules or time off of work. then, when i do get to my destination, i can go see the things i want to see. i love history, which some people find truly boring. but i love museums and historical sites, and i know i don’t have to compromise anything i’d like to experience. i can choose to do the things i enjoy, and make memories i’ll carry with me the rest of my life.

i’ll have to end up with someone equally as adventurous. someone with the same zest for new expeditions. but for now, i’ll do as much as a i can before my travels are few and far between. if you’re single and able to embark on a journey to some place you've always wanted to see, then i encourage you to go while you have the ability to take off at the drop of a hat for a fraction of the cost it would take for an entire family to go.

travel opens our eyes and hearts to experiences outside of our own little world. go, enjoy, and make happy memories.

“we travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”