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As a newlywed, some of my single friends probably resent it when I say this, but I loved being single. I didn’t date in high school or through my first three years of college. I truly appreciated my years of bachelorhood, even though I hung up that uniform for good when I started dating my now-husband my senior year of college. And now that I have something to compare singleness to (a year of marriage) I can fully and triumphantly stand behind Shauna Niequist when she says, “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.”

That phrase is something Niequist always slips in when she is asked to speak at colleges, she explains.

“I say it every time because our culture is weirdly obsessed with romance and couples and being part of a matched set.

I say it every time because some of the people I love most in the world are single—either because they haven’t yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended. Honestly, I’ve reached that age when I hear more divorce announcements than wedding bells.

And sometimes I wonder if there would be fewer divorce announcements if we weren’t so hung up on marriage as a status symbol or accomplishment.”

And sure, being part of a couple has its perks. You have an automatic buddy for theme park rides (if they like rollercoasters!). You have someone to sit with at weddings (unless they really hate weddings…see where I’m going here?). Niequist admits that she is beyond thankful for her husband – but pleads with us to remember that marriage doesn’t add inherent value to a person’s life, even though culture does make it hard for singles (“Why should you have to be married to own a decent knife? Why do we only give married people towels and china?”).

In her article “I’m Single, But I’m Still a Whole Person,” Emily Maynard recognizes that people don’t suddenly become whole or complete when they say “I do.” Rather, people are mostly the same, whether they are married or single.

“The details of my partnered friends' lives may be slightly different, but their lives are very much parallel to mine. They still deal with self-doubt, choices, and seeing the glory in their eyes in the mirror. They have good seasons and bad, close times and detached days, intense stretches of turbulence and placid waters. The inside stuff of our lives is the same, whether we’re married or dating or single.”

Her advice to herself, and other singles?

“This is your life. Stop waiting to live it until things are all under your control. Want, but do not stop wanting for ten thousand other good things besides a good marriage. Dig your strong fingers down deeply into the dirt until they are buried and then twist your wrists gently and lift up your wide handfuls of rich earth. This is your whole life.”

Later in her piece, Niequist continues:

“You might not want to be single right now. I get it. But it affords you some freedoms, and you should take them, every single one of them. I’m so proud of my single friends who are traveling like mad and living in interesting places and training for super-time-consuming races and getting fascinating graduate degrees.

Not every season affords this flexibility, and if you have it, grab it. Take it. Use it up. Please don’t wish away this season just because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. What does singleness afford you? Time to write that book? Space to learn that skill? Flexibility to spend the summer in that dreamy place? Even if it’s not what you wanted, or not what you planned, how can you spend the opportunity you’ve been given in this season?”

Have you struggled with letting your singleness define you as a person? Check out our singles channel for more encouragement, featuring articles like “How to Pray for Love when You’re Single” by Debra Fileta.

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com

Publication date: June 4, 2014