If you feel like ‘uurgh, Valentine’s Day, smellingtine’s day’ and not quite at peace with your relationship status then just thank your lucky stars that you are not in South Korea…
In South Korea there is a Valentine’s Day (women give gifts to men), a month later on the 14th of March there is a White Day (men give gifts to women) and then, just in case you needed a rather somber reminder that you are single there is also a Black Day on the 14th of April when singles in South Korea drown their sorrows in a bowl Jajangmyeon, which translates to black (bean paste) noodles.
Seriously, wasn’t there a different option available on the colour spectrum other than the universal colour of mourning?
What about a joyous bright yellow?
To make the pressure of the couple culture of Korea even worse is that Christmas is considered a couple’s holiday.
All the single ladies
Now put your hands up
Blah blah blah
I’m doing my own little thing…
Unfortunately, South Korea or South Africa, we all live in a society where marriage and children are somehow weirdly linked to social success; we live in a society where those who are not in a relationship often have to endure the “don’t worry, you will find someone” as if finding someone and spending your life with another human being is the alpha and omega of life.
And don’t you worry because I am not worried.
It is these stupid social standards and pressure from peers that lead individuals into thinking that being alone is lonely, that not being in a relationship means failure, that being on your own is something to be ashamed of and that singleness is a problem to be solved and a curse.
Singleness is not a problem, it is not a curse, it is an opportunity to live your own best damn life without answering to anyone, without living up to someone else’s expectations of you and to be quite frank, it allows you to be selfish with your own time and with the things you want to get up to (or don’t want to get up to).
It was Henry David Thoreau who said, “The (wo)man who goes alone can start today; but (s)he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.
So if you are single, embrace it; with both hands, feet and everything in between. The key to your happiness does not depend on anyone but yourself.
(And if you are based in South Korea, screw the black noodles, Valentine’s and White Day and just go get some hotteok, because let’s face it, hotteok fixes EVERYTHING.)
Single? Go date yourself! Here are 9 ideas for ‘all the single ladies’
Or, if you are not single, here are 9 ideas of things you owe to yourself. And if you are not female, here are 9 ideas of things you owe to yourself as well.
Go on a road trip
While many have the idea that a road trip means piling a few people into a car and hitting the road, my idea of a road trip is often the same but it also involves solo road tripping; a trip of stopping, staying and doing whatever I want to do.
Some of my favourite solo road trips and destinations in South Africa were:
Lesotho (technically not SA, but still…)
Cradock (Mountain Zebra National Park in particular)
Or opt for a staycation
If you don’t have time for a road trip or going alone seems like a daunting task then book yourself into a guest house or hotel and take some pampering goodies along, or make an appointment at the spa. You can also go camping, there are not a lot of things are as serene as a solo camping trip.
Explore your city for a day
Explore your own backyard, book a tour with a local tour company, visit a new restaurant, an art gallery or museum you’ve always wanted to go to and enjoy sunset on your own.
Treat yourself to meal
Table for one! YES! WHY NOT.
Dining alone too weird? Start with coffee
Coffee shops are full of people sitting alone at tables or at the coffee bar counter. Take a book or laptop with you if you feel like it might be too awkward.
Popcorn and movies
Do you know who cares that you buy one movie ticket and go into the theatre alone? You! Only you! No one at Nu Metro or Ster-Kinekor even notices that you are going in alone.
Or just stream a movie at home and make yourself a lekker bowl of popcorn.
Here are some of my favourite travel movies:
Into the Wild
Eat, pray, love
The Motorcycle Diaries
A map for Saturday
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
Under the Tuscan Sun
The hundred foot journey
(I am probably missing a few that I can’t think of now, comment below and let me know what I have missed).
Go ahead, book that international trip
My first trip abroad was alone; I was young, completely clueless and nearly missed my flight but this is where I’ve learnt about independence, that my mind is stronger than what I’ve ever thought and that it is perfectly okay and safe to travel alone. And, if you are not 100% comfortable doing it completely alone, there are numerous ways to make your solo trip easier like joining a group tour or staying in hostels.
Other destinations that are always considered safe for solo female travel are: Italy, Iceland, Netherlands, Canada, Guatemala, Denmark, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and the good old US of A.
In the end I think any place can be safe for solo female travel if you trust your instincts and apply a few basic behaviours.
Have an experience
Want to learn how to make croissants, or perhaps you want to paint or learn about photography? Maybe the experience for you is bungee jumping or going whale watching. Gift yourself an experience.
Get that massage. Colour or cut your hair. Buy that piece of clothing you’ve been oohing and aahing about, or that thing that will make you go ooh and ahh. Just do something for yourself.
Just to note, I am not bashing non-singles. If you have found someone to spend your life with, awesome, you are lucky, but so is every single person who enjoys being single. I admire, treasure and appreciate my parents’ vinkel-and-koljander relationship every day but being in a relationship or having kids does not equate to success for me, it is not something that I will actively go seek; if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t happen that is 100% okay too.
And while we are on the topic of marriage and kids, how about we respect a woman’s decision (or a couple’s decision) to not have kids? It is 2019 and it is high time that the assumption of having kids after marriage comes to an end as well as the super personal and invasive question of ‘when will you have kids?’.
It is 2019. Women can work, women can vote, women can be independent, women can fix things, lift things and women CAN TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.
The same goes for men.