I don’t exactly blend in with the crowd. I have a huge bushy mustache, borderline albino skin, and hairy legs à la Bigfoot. So you can imagine how going to a restaurant by myself on Valentine’s Day might have felt for me, the only single guy in sight. Like a Sasquatch hunt, and I’m the furry creature in the corner. Strangers staring wide-eyed, wondering if it could really be true — and if they should shoot me.
OK, it wasn’t that bad.
I’ve actually been practicing for a couple years — being single in public. It’s part of my journey to loving the single life. Every week or two I take a one-man field trip to Salt Lake City, where I grab coffee, tour a museum, hike the foothills, or wander around the cemetery (not creepy at all). I’ve learned to love going out on my own and yet being part of something bigger — the bustle and beauty of the city. As much as I love being with people, going solo every once in a while has helped me not only embrace being single, but also being SEEN as single.
This is light years from where I used to be. Back when I was nervous to go anywhere in public (except maybe the grocery store) without at least one friend to mask my singleness. But over the years I’ve learned that most people are too busy wondering what you’re thinking about them to give much thought about you. Ain’t nobody got time to scrutinize your love life (except trolls on the internet, of course). Nobody’s judging you for being single in public — even if you’re a mustachioed yeti, like me.
Besides a surge of starry-eyed lovers, Valentine’s Day wasn’t much different from any other day when I venture out on my own. After a few minutes, I even put down my beloved iPhone — the single person’s safety blanket. Instead, I enjoyed my meal, made eye contact with people, and brushed croissant crumbs from my mustache. You know, the usual. I also took a moment to appreciate being single — to thank God that I’m loved, even when I’m by myself, when people SEE me by myself. There’s freedom in those moments, when you realize your worth isn’t tied to anybody but Jesus himself.
That’s the important part. Remembering who you are in Christ: whole, redeemed, significant. A single person in a big love story. Even in a sea of strangers, there’s Someone who calls you by name and loves you beyond measure. So, go ahead. Go public with your singleness. Tell the world “Table for one.” Buy a movie ticket (singular). Take a trip and don’t feel like you need to explain where your friends are. Being single in public isn’t as bad as you think — it just takes a little practice and a lot of perspective.
And an iPhone doesn’t hurt!