I’m Actually Glad I’m Toughing Out the Pandemic Single
While it’s been hard to sacrifice seeing family and friends plus travel and events, being by yourself for this long DOES have its perks.
Ever since lockdown began that fateful day 10 months ago, this lost year has had millions of us feeling lonely, anguished, frustrated, angry, grieving, you name it. And you got every right to feel that way.
When it comes to how single people, particularly single people living alone, are dealing with the pandemic, we’re often discussed in this piteous manner. Even the incoming Vice President had something to say about it, which set the aisle on fire as far as the divide went: many thought it was a caring gesture and felt seen, but a significant number of single people also thought it was condescending and uncalled for.
As someone who has willingly spent holidays alone so I don’t have to suffer through the complete hellmouth that is the NJ Transit terminal in holiday rush, I felt mildly annoyed but that she had good intents.
Though can you really blame us for feeling insulted or that we were talked down to, and that this has been going on the entire pandemic and some of us are tired of it?
After all, long-haul singles tend to get these bumbling and pathetic portrayals like Bill Dauterieve on King of the Hill or Aunt Gayle on Bob’s Burgers. Where sure, they’re cartoons and meant to be a little hyperbolic, but the human aspect of these shows is why they have such die-hard fanbases. And this is what a lot of people tend to think of single adults who live alone: that we’re ferally out of control, can’t do anything for ourselves without a spouse to keep us in check, and have miserable living situations.
You can’t be happily single with a fantastic life and career yet still want a partner, that doesn’t compute. No, it’s assumed that if you’re single and over 35, you’ve passed this point of no return where you get pitying clucks of “Have you tried X dating app?” or “I got this friend who’s also single!” because it’s something that MUST be fixed as soon as possible, and all we know is being consumed by loneliness because it’s not like anyone’s ever had a partner cut them off from friends or family.
If you’re single and living alone, it’s perfectly valid to feel lonely, frustrated, and hopeless.
No one should be faulted for feeling this way. It’s hard not to feel depressed and hopeless when we’re facing an oncoming civil war as a plague rages outside and in my case specifically, your governor gets an Emmy award and a few hundred pages of literary masturbation for letting people die and botching vaccine distribution. No matter your marital or family status and who you live with, it’s nigh impossible not to feel like you’re marooned in your own apartment. (No wonder sea shanties are so meme-ing so hard at the time of writing.)
Now, look. I get it. COVID has been a frightening time of our lives as we’ve made sacrifices we didn’t want to make while every level of government utterly failed us.
For people like me who’ve been living alone an incredibly long time and also have been a digital entrepreneur free from the tyranny of employment for almost a decade, we’re also inured to it. Regardless of relationship status, dealing with protracted unemployment and/or having to open up your living area to your boss and co-workers has likely been painful to deal with. So with that in mind, I get that some of this won’t apply to everyone.
Because it turns out that almost a year into this, I’m actually glad I’ve toughed it out single and by myself.
For one, my exposure risk is lower.
I’m extremely fortunate to have the privilege to work at home on my own terms. If you have a face-to-face job you have to be at and wind up being asymptomatic, you still have lower likelihood of increasing community spread because no one else lives with you. Two or more people living together increases that community spread risk, and while I feel for people who don’t have a choice in this matter (particularly those in healthcare and other frontline jobs), I thank my lucky toads that I’m single with this dump all to myself.
But that major concrete aspect aside, enduring lockdown has also made me reflect on the things rule really hard about single life and what sucks about it, and to think harder about why I feel that way.
Money, for instance. There’s both concrete pandemic-related things here and more abstract concepts at play.
If I was married, I might have had a harder time qualifying for certain small business aid programs plus being able to keep my health insurance without the premium skyrocketing because I’d have to switch to family coverage. Of course, I wouldn’t have to worry about this in a real country that just gave people healthcare whether you’re single, married, polyamorous, whatever. But in present-day America, it’s a valid concern and one I had assuaged by not changing my marital status.
But when my revenue boomeranged really hard after the initial shock wore off, exceeding what I made in 2019 by year end yet still qualifying for yet even more free money from the SBA, I didn’t have to fight with anyone about how I’m splitting my income and PPP proceeds between bills, reinvestment in my business, saving for a new life and home out west, and mutual aid for my community. Or have a partner resent me for snapping back and then some in a manner of months if he lost his job or his business tanked.
If you think that sounds paranoid or that I’m making a big deal out of nothing, and just dated some incredibly insecure men? You aren’t aware of how cishet men are not socialized to support ambitious and entrepreneurial women.
Money is a major stressor and contention point for couples. As much as I hated being a tax accountant, my very last salaried job showed me how many couples fight over money and made me think about what kind of boundaries and expectations I’d set if I found a long-haul partner. Not having to deal with that stress in a global crisis where we can’t go anywhere or have much time apart, while your finances are under more scrutiny from economic instability and having to navigating what little personal and business aid programs there are? I’m glad I’m dealing with the worst by myself.
The pandemic has been the ultimate stress test of millions of relationships.
Many aren’t making it, others are barely hanging on, some are even thriving. But while it sucks to feel like I’m missing out on dating and hooking up?
It’s also made me re-evaluate whether I really want a relationship. I do! I just don’t want to be with some guy for the sake of saying I’m not alone. I’m just going to enjoy the perks of being single until my status changes, and refuse to apologize for it.
I don’t say yes to every deal, client, or project. The same rules true for men.
I ironically have more men approaching me in my DMs on Twitter and other channels than I did in peacetime. It’s made me more confident about approaching them first as well. Plus, the degree of pandemic horny on leftist Twitter, and even game dev Twitter to a lesser extent, has approached utterly nuclear levels.
Let’s just say that even with a completely botched vaccine rollout and still needing to mask and socially distance for a while yet? The Roaring Twenties: Take Two will be a very good time to be single and sexually-liberated. Simply making eye contact with a single guy at a bar, a punk show, or a Re-Frogging America initiative is going to feel orgasmic. Mark my words: IKEA is going to experience record sales from all the beds and futons that get broken when us horny single people who’ve repopulated the cities go completely apoplectic, Tinder and Twitter servers will be down for days, and I think they know this and are utterly salivating.
And if you’re in your mid-late thirties by the time it goes down: you’ll get to enjoy the above, but with far more confidence and self-assurance than you had in your twenties!
I don’t feel pressured to date because of safety reasons and it’s honestly liberating. I get my flirt on with some gentlemen from Twitter and even Medium. Some of it will remain at giving each other attention online, or we may meet in LA or my travels when it’s safe to have them again. All I know is that I’m focusing on my mission to vaccinate, relocate, and release my game.
Many of us have been using lockdown to re-evaluate our lives and relationships.
I solidified my plans to move to California, where I definitely can’t head yet since it’s where my city was last spring as far as cases and deaths go. But in making those plans and firming them up, it’s also made me figure out who’s really my friend versus someone I just chat with time to time, who only contacts me when they want something, and which professional relationships are staying strictly professional and who I’ll actually hang with more as friends in LA.
Being unable to see friends has been extremely difficult for all of us. But one upside of so much time alone and headspace to reflect? It’s made me more selective about who gets my time and headspace, and I’ve flung off one-sided friendships like winter congestion boogers. If your efforts aren’t being reciprocated in a global crisis? Time to move on. Every friendship is different and some of us just have trouble communicating because of the sheer overwhelm right now, especially digital overwhelm, but everything being on a pause is a good time to re-evaluate things.
As many people also reinvent their careers out of choice or necessity, I’ve reflected on my entrepreneurial journey, where it took me, and where I want to take it in the next chapter.
Similarly to this awful chapter in history, I’m glad I got through the worst parts of business on my own.
Now that I have the financial and creative chops to get well-funded productions and not even be that concerned about essentially tripling my housing costs upon relocation in the pursuit of happiness?
I’ve been trimming a lot of bullshit I’d been caught up in to keep my business running.
Not just cutting unnecessary expenses, but finding balance in the way I do things and dealing with my ADHD. It makes me want to do everything and being well aware that I can’t, and shutting down. So since I can’t travel for events, meet up with people, or even go out to a restaurant without risking a virus that could kill me and my neighbors…yeah, it sucks, but it also means I’m zeroing in on my most lucrative projects, applying for funding with the best terms, and getting to work on the game and my personal writing.
When it’s safe to, I’m definitely resuming my event schedule, speaker gigs, and so on even though they cut into game development time. Because I do miss constantly meeting new people, making new friends and colleagues at events, and talking about the subjects I’m knowledgeable and passionate about. But I’m probably going to be more selective about events and speaker gigs than I once was where I’d take a look and say, “Aw yeah! I get out of the house for four days and get a tax write-off!”
Okay, I’ll probably still do that, but to a lesser extent.
But since being stuck at home with time to reflect has made me realize it’s impossible to do everything, I’ll always have a to-do list debt, and am dying to get the hell away from the computer sometimes, I’ve reoriented my business and goals and feel much better and self-assured about it: and my bank accounts are looking happier about it, too.
With my plan to go into film as well upon moving, something I initially didn’t set out to do until Thanksgiving when I was lightning struck by this idea then kept getting signs to make it (1999–2001 period piece about a massive social divide among music cultures, and Eve 6 follows me back on Twitter after I talk about it? Cmon, is that NOT a sign?!) re-evaluating my business plans has been essential. It already was what with changing states.
But I didn’t have to run it by anyone. Now that I got it figured out with such clarity for my future and plenty of wiggle room for surprises pleasant and unpleasant on the business and personal ends? I’m happy to see how I’ll cross that bridge when and if I get there in California post-vaccine.
Or I can just make games, shitpost, and make movies while behaving like a Congressman til I shuffle off the mortal coil. Either one sounds pretty damn fabulous to me and being stuck at home 11 months helped me realize that.