I’m single. I hate it, but that’s what I am. So I deal with it.

You know how? I live it up.

Let’s face it. I have tons of free time, I make money with little obligation, and I have few major responsibilities. What could be better (aside from the wonderfully massive responsibility of being a wife and mother and spending my money on grocery shopping and tuition bills)?

I tend to view my singlehood as a “needing situation.” I need matchmakers and friends to set me up on dates. I need them to constantly remember me and do for me. I need mentors to listen to me, advise me and strengthen me when the going gets tough – which can be quite often. I need support and sensitivity. And I need ice cream after downer dates. And I need real friends. Not just the “So, tell me, what are you looking for” friends, or the “You should come for Shabbos some time” friends. I’m talking about the ones who don’t think of me as a hapless single who needs fixing, but rather as a good friend who happens to be single.

Gosh, I need a lot.

All my self-focus was hurting the relationships I did have.

It’s depressing to constantly be on the receiving end. I needed to change and to start giving. All my self-focus was hurting the relationships I did have. And if I needed friends now more than ever, it was time for me to work on being a real friend. As the saying goes, in order to have a real friend, you need to be a real friend. So I learned how to be there for my married friends when their going got tough (even if it is a tough time that I wish I could have).

Being single doesn’t stop my ability to be a wonderful friend. It is hard but so fulfilling to shop with my friends when they get engaged, set up their apartments, hang out with my married friends on their tight schedules, and babysit their children. There is an awesome feeling to sharing in someone’s joy amidst your own pain.

Life is a balance, and while it is exceedingly important to look out for myself, I need to use the tremendous blessings that I’ve been granted to give to others. Life is about what I can do for others – not what others can do for me. Even during the most trying times, I am not exempt from being an active person on this planet. I can always choose my focus. And as I see it, there is a blessing hidden in my test.

Being single, I have some extra time. It’s time I’d love to be spending with my husband and building a beautiful marriage. Time I’d love to use doing homework with my children and cooking dinner. But right now, that’s not my lot. So I spend my time doing other things I love. I make sure to spend time with friends and family and keep those relationships strong. I devote time to teaching and tutoring children and helping them succeed in school and in life. I spend time giving to the community and I spend time cooking and baking for the happy events that go on around me.

And yes, I spend “me” time – working on myself and sometimes just marching to the beat of my own drum. I feel blessed to be able to spend my time doing things I enjoy and bettering the lives of people around me instead of sitting in the proverbial waiting place.

I have a job, thank God. But I don’t have whom (read: a family) to spend the money on. I’ve saved up, but now I am done deferring to the future. So I find whom to spend my money on. I mentor teens and eat waaay more ice cream, bagels and pizza than I should. I spoil my family and friends. I spoil my students. And yes, I spoil myself. I go out with friends often and travel to my far-away friends on whim.

As crazy as it sounds, I wouldn’t trade my past years of pain for anything in the world. The lessons I’ve gained of being an active, empathetic person have enhanced all my relationships, especially in dating. In the past, I had focused on protecting myself. I never stopped to think that the man sitting across from me probably has been just as hurt, and is just as scared as I am. And besides, looking out for others is essential for creating a good marriage.

It’s a blessing to be on the giving end. And it’s a choice. I spent many a time sad, lonely, and cynical but it didn’t get me anywhere. I realized it wasn’t my situation per se that was depressing me; it was me depressing myself. This was at least one area I did have control over (do we really have power over anything else?).

Yes, it’s hard not being married, but I’ve been given an in-the-meantime-blessing. And I plan on using it as best I can.