Time. It is a blessing and a curse. Though we all have the same amount of hours on any given day, as a single woman I have more time for myself, less external demands on my time, and therefore a lot of say in how I spend it. How is that a curse? First, combine other people’s expectations with demands on your time via the over-arching understanding that “you have time, you’re single!”. Then, if you have any tendency towards people-pleasing, before you know it you find yourself spread thin, scattered, and doing many things but none of them well, with a general sense of failure and exhaustion.

I have so often wished that I had the excuse of a husband and kids to get out of that bridal shower, volunteer event, weekend project, or babysitting gig. What’s more, though it’s true that I have time, I often don’t even want it! I’d much rather claim to have no time because a husband is calling and a crying toddler is wrapped around my leg than find reasons to support my “no” as a single woman.

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Single women need to fight the idea that just because you can necessarily implies that you should. The ability to say “no” and maintain healthy boundaries is every bit as vital in this phase of life as any other. Also, the way we live our lives now cultivates habits that carry forward into the next phase and the phase after that. We won’t magically change one day simply because we’re no longer single (surprise, surprise!). I think the specific temptation to fight as a single person is the insecurity we can feel in saying no, because, well, we should be able to say yes! The whole concept of boundaries is understanding yourself, your time and energy, as a treasure. A treasure that needs to be protected. Though others may press us to, you do not need to justify your “no.” You are free to simply say not without providing an explanation.

I think it’s fair that, as our time is a gift, it can and should be used to serve others, but that is not all it should be used for. In my own life I realized the need I have as a single person for social, leisure, and personal time. Finding myself constantly running from one thing to another, I found (embarrassingly) that basic things were not getting done. My laundry piled up until I literally had nothing clean left to wear; I was getting 6 hours of sleep at best and running off of 3+ cups of coffee every day; and I couldn’t remember the last time I cleaned my apartment. Though I was doing a great job picking up friends from the airport, taking on the extra project at work, and promising to bring all the decorations for the party that weekend, I was doing so at the expense of my own well-being.

Most Important Things Are Rarely Urgent

Again, the habits you form now stay with you forever unless you decidedly work to change them. I realized that the pattern of life I was sowing now would reap the same inattention to my future needs and needs of my family someday, as saying “yes” to the immediate thing at the expense of everything else had become a habit. I once heard it said that the most important things in life are hardly ever urgent. If we are constantly responding to the present and urgent need, then we will never attend to the things we truly value in life.

Work on saying “yes” to the right things, the things you truly value, and fight the temptation to feel guilty when you say “no”. What kinds of things? Working out (I love my yoga sculpt classes!), shopping to keep up a classy and put together wardrobe, coffee and walk-in-the-park dates with friends who actually fill rather than drain us, traveling, and of course, the basic needs that every person has (even if your home consists of just you), like keeping up with laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, paying bills, and simply the day to day upkeep that life demands. Though we need to maintain a spirit of flexibility to whatever life brings, we need to realize that by the constraints of time and matter we physically cannot say yes to everything, so make sure your precious “yes’s” are going to things that need them.