Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Post: Single, 32, Female and Mormon



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Lauren Johnson received her degree in journalism from the University of Utah and served a Mormon mission in Cleveland, Ohio. A laid-off television reporter, she currently resides in Salt Lake City. Lauren is an avid blogger. You can find her at: laurenruthie.blogspot.com. She’s also a tweeter: @laurenruthie

Single, 32, female and Mormon. Okay, so it might not be that unusual anymore. Thirty years ago I could have still been thrown into Old Maid category. Thank heavens times have changed. Now, it’s hip to be single — in a Sex in the City sort of way … or rather: “Make-Outs in the City?” Or how about “Modern Mormon Make-Outs in the City?” Yes, that’s it. And just like Carrie from our favorite single city show I get to wear Manolo Blahnik heels and a Marc Jacobs dress (with added sleeves). Which makes me think that maybe this should be called Modern Mormon Make-Outs in the City: in an economically-hipster-sorta-way, since most of my clothes are vintage finds from Deseret Industries, with a few H&M hand-me-downs that slightly resemble a Marc Jacobs dress in a cheap, not-so-Marc Jacobs sort of way.

And with all that being said, now I’m back to wondering if it really is hip being Mormon, single and in a city far from the size of Manhattan when I don’t even have enough money for those dreamy heels. (Sure, the make-outs are great, but I think something else, perhaps, maybe … could be better? Just saying.

Why is it, then, that the leaders of the church who really (wait, that deserves caps: REALLY) want all of us single peeps who have taken the Y out of YSA to get married, buy a house, and settle down not had a greater impact on us? Instead, single adults (hereontoforth referred to as S.A.’s) have continually remained … S.A.’s. Why? What in the world is keeping us single? Since I am from the Google-generation and feel worthy of all answers, I’ve tried my best to come up with a decent list. It goes something like this:

- I don’t know
- Timing
- Commitment issues
- I haven’t met the right one
- In love with the wrong one
- The right one dumped me
- Trying too hard
- Not trying hard enough
- People like to break up with me
- Not a lot of Mormons where I live
- Can’t get over the last relationship
- No idea
- Maybe I’m not marriage material?
- Too busy
- Sexual orientation
-  I like my freedom
- Addictions
- I don’t know
- Just have issues, I guess
- Don’t have a clue
- God has other plans
- Career-oriented
- I’m intimidating
- I’m intimidated
- I don’t know

This list might not have been that helpful. If you skipped it, more power to you. Perhaps answer-entitlement is failing us here. I know I sometimes fall into the trap of blaming Romeo for not wanting to marry me, or Fabio for not wanting to take me on that second date, but is playing the blame game and this attempt for finding answers helping? I’m not sure it is. It seems to only imply that something is wrong, and that it needs to be fixed. And I think the idea that we must be fixed if we are an S.A. has got to go. Again, thank heavens the “old maid” term is dated, but is this unending search for reason any better?

Here’s what I do know. (Or believe). I believe S.A.’s see a happy marriage as appealing. We see the benefits, and the majority of S.A.’s that I know have a deep desire to find that special someone/eternal companion. I believe the constant drive and pressure for us to “Get Married!” isn’t necessarily helping. I think it dampens the mood and brings unneeded pressure in our quest for a compatible and happy companionship. It doesn’t feed our faith or hope. Rather, it feeds fear and angst. It leaves us wondering what is wrong with us, when instead we could be focusing on what is right with the people we are dating, or could potentially date.

Single people are indeed happy. Alright, some aren’t, but some married people aren’t either. I do have a wonderful life. And I do feel sort of hip. I am looking for someone special to share it with, but in the meantime I am sharing it with very special people — numerous friends who are a big part of my life and feel almost like a family. We take care of, and support each other. I get to build my life, accomplish goals, and conquer dreams without having to let go of a desire to one day find someone that would add to my life in a very special way.

Although there is a growing acceptance towards single adults, I often get the question: “Why aren’t you married, Lauren?” Sometimes it’s worse and continues with: “You’re pretty enough, you’d think a guy would just snag you up.” If marriage in my generation is about being snagged, then yes, there would be a lot more of us married. But I think that is exactly what is so beautiful about this Modern Mormon Make-Out in the City movement. As appealing as marriage is, with all of its benefits, we are determined to get married because we fall in love with the right person, because it adds to our life, and not just because we need to multiply and replenish or uphold a Priesthood responsibility. Those things might be a part of the many blessings of eternal matrimony, but S.A.’s also realize there is so much more to figure out.

We respect the eternal marriage vow and the blessings that come with it so much that we are passionate about waiting for that perfect someone. But don’t worry. We’re older, wiser, and we’re jaded. We don’t believe perfect means perfection. Most of us have lost any belief in a soul mate. This older, single LDS crowd — we’re a bunch of realists who believe in timing, compatible personalities, independence, a peaceful companionship, and therapy.

I feel some leaders in the church wish they could just arrange marriages for us and get this Mormon population growing and headed towards the Celestial Kingdom. I think a few S.A.’s wish it, too. But some of us are more complex. We have dreams, aspirations, A.D.D., and a desire to not end up like our parents, (or end up just like them). Help us in this journey. Please, no more condemning. Be proud of what, as single adults, we can accomplish and are accomplishing. Realize the desire for us to marry is in most all of us. Encourage us and support us. Feed us with faith and not with fear. Help us when we ask for advice, but don’t push the wrong questions. My personal answer as to why I’m not married: I don’t know. I really don’t. And I’m okay with that answer. For some it happens blissfully and easily at 23. For others: God has other plans. We might not be as hip as Carrie Bradshaw, but I think this generation of single Mormon adults, doing great things and staying faithful, should be celebrated. I know I couldn’t be more proud. I’m also having a blast. My name is Lauren Johnson. I’m single. I'm 32. I’m female. And I'm Mormon.

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