Here’s the thing: Romantic relationships are beautiful and an incredibly important part of the human experience — but, singleness is, too. In fact, I’ve discovered some truly poignant, fulfilling, and sacred moments that were a direct result of being an unattached, single woman in my 30s.
Travel, living alone, career milestones, even simple Sunday mornings in bed have created little snapshots in my soul (as cheesy as that sounds) and even taught me to be a better person. And I’m not alone. According to a recent study by AVVO, 60% of the 279 single women surveyed reported feeling content or happy with their current status.
To be clear, I don’t want to wax poetic about how this season of my life is all sunshine, rainbows, and happiness — that’s just not the case. I’ll be the first person to admit to moments of intense loneliness, rejection, and even bitterness here and there. But, there’s beauty in that, too, because in all the darkness, I’ve learned (often with the help of a therapist and patient friends) how to find the light again. I’m also well aware that there’s a lot of positive life-changing and introspective things to experience within a relationship and even dating, and I look forward to them. In this point of my life, however, I’m choosing to relish and enjoy the prospect of me, myself, and I.
In the name of research, I did a little digging and reached out to some female peers and a travel consultant to find out how and why being a single woman in your 30s (or older) can present such exciting opportunities for exploration — even if they’re brief or mundane by nature. Ahead, check out six things you can totally do within a relationship, but should definitely try as a single lady (of any age).
Take an Impromptu Road Trip
There’s something truly exhilarating about packing up and leaving town on a whim, whether you do so alone or with an equally adventurous pal. Los Angeles-based stylist Erin Noel, recounts one such getaway: “At 32, I was itching for an adventure,” she says. “My friend was getting married in Tulsa, and with Route 66 paving the way, I called a friend and we decided to hit the road. We explored the Grand Canyon, visited all the classic Route 66 stops, drove the open road in severe weather, ate at quirky diners, and took the back roads without any worry at all. We took our time, flew by the seat of our pants, and have memories to share for the rest of our lives.”
And if you have a bit more time (and mileage) to spare, go global with your joy ride. “For single women looking for soul journeys, I always recommend renting a camper van and driving across New Zealand,” says Kelly Lewis, CEO of Damesly and founder and creator of Go! Girl Guides (travel guidebooks for women). “It’s so visually stunning that you won’t be thinking anything except, ‘Wow, I’m so glad this gets to be my life!’ Plus, there are so many fun towns to stop and make friends along the way. I spent a year in Queenstown and it was one of the best years of my life.”
I lived with family or friends for all of my 20s. It wasn’t until the age of 32 that I realized how much I truly needed to have a sanctuary of my own. There’s something about creating and cultivating a space for yourself that truly boosts your confidence. Relying completely on my myself and even simply learning to sit alone in my own living room has been therapeutic and gratifying, more so than I ever expected.
At the very least, it allows you to decorate and indulge in your own personal aesthetic. For me, that meant painting my kitchen pink and creating a bright blue accent wall in my living room. To others, these decor prerogatives may seem silly — tacky even — but, to me, they feel great.
Invest Time in a Worthy Cause
Having the opportunity to dedicate some of your free time to a cause that hits close to home can be deeply gratifying and fulfilling emotionally. “When I was engaged to be married, it was tough finding time to volunteer with organizations that I truly cared about,” says Los Angeles-based writer, editor, and content strategist Shontel Horne. “It wasn’t until I was single that I was able to identify pockets of time that I could dedicate to mentoring teenage girls that wanted to explore creative writing. Sunday mornings [became dedicated to] meeting my mentee for coffee as we went over her latest short story or homework assignment. The young woman was 14 when we first met and is now a sophomore in college.”
Now, being single doesn’t mean you have a ton of free time on your hands, as many of you busy ladies know to be true. But, this is a worthwhile option to consider and ponder on the occasion that you have a free afternoon or weekend.
Pick up a Passion Project or Fun Hobby
Being single allows time and space to serve your wildest and most random whims … so, you should indulge. For me, personally, I’ve channeled my inner Martha Stewart in recent years and picked up every crafty DIY endeavor you can think of: cake decorating classes, furniture restoration, painting, and all the home decor projects. Even if the endeavor ends disastrously (I’ve had more than one mishap with my sander), I get a healthy dose of self-satisfaction in knowing I attempted it in the first place.
“There have been days where I’ve taken my camera out to shoot protest rallies on a whim and nights where I’ve sipped Bordeaux and attempted to learn French for hours,” says Horne. “My apartment is filled with paintings that I’ve started and I craft projects that only I could love, but having the space to let my creativity wander, is something I’ve valued the most during my single season.”
Travel as Much as Possible
In the same vein as roadtrips, a spontaneous globe-trotting session is also something to indulge in while you have the vacation hours, energy, and free time. “For single women, I’d recommend Israel, Argentina, and Georgia — the country,” says Lewis “Why? Well, they’re all incredible destinations that are dynamic, impressive, historic, stunning, and full of fun, young, singles.” Lewis also notes these countries are all still relatively affordable and can provide lodging options for both luxe and budget travelers (as you don’t always have the option to split a room unless you’re traveling with a close friend).
For communications student Genelle Ligot, 31, her first international trip lit a travel-loving fire in her that she’s been ferociously fueling ever since, particularly at this point in her life. In the past year, the Los Angeles-native has frolicked around Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, and places a bit closer to home like San Francisco and Yosemite. “These moments have encouraged me to consistently step out, learn, and embody the better pieces of me,” Ligot says. And she’s only getting started: “I’d like to live abroad for at least a year and limit the amount of technology I use,” she says. “I want to be more present for what’s around me.”
Witness Something Truly Majestic
If time and money permits, think big on your next vacation. “See the Great Pyramids,” says Lewis. “Egypt is opening their brand-new Grand Egyptian Museum in 2019, which the country spent $1 billion on.” The travel pro also recommends striking while the iron is hot on locations that may not be around for much longer. “Snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef: It’s not dead yet.”