Friday, October 1, 2010

Spinster Syndrome

From a recent episode of House Hunters- enter 30 year single female, put together with a good job on Capitol Hill. In her intial interview she talks about wanting to buy a house before her 31st birthday. '30 is a benchmark time in life, people are getting married, have kids, have a house and a dog. I figured I either need to get a man or buy a house. I've got to have some kind of accomplishment.'

Hmm, what is it about being a spinster that makes us think we have to prove ourselves and show we're accomplished? If we're not married we have to show people that we are not worthless by either having an amazing career, making lots of money, getting an advanced degree, buying a house or doing extensive charitable work in a third world country. Guess what I don't have or do any of those things. Does that mean I should feel bad about myself? Is it not enough to support yourself, be a good person and contribute to your community? For years I have felt that pressure to show people that I've done something with my life, but often I fall short and my self esteem takes a major blow. Where does a person's true worth come from? Don't we all have intrinsic worth as children of God?

Why am I trying to prove myself to other people? I've been learning about self defeating beliefs lately and one of them is Achievement Addiction: My worthiness depends on my achievements, intelligence, talent, status, income or looks. I think most people believe this to a certain extent, but if we do it also means that if we don't live up to these standards we are a total failure. But who sets the standards and how can we ever be good enough?

It's like we have to prove there's nothing wrong with us just because we're not married. I'm so tired of hearing the phrases, why are you still single? or I can't believe she's still single or I know why he's not married. If you've never noticed before people use these discouraging phrases a lot. Basically they are saying. All the good people are taken, the people that aren't taken have major problems or they are saying that being single is not normal, because normal people have someone. Maybe people don't realize what their words are implying, but they hurt.

Sometimes I wonder if part of the reason I want to be married so badly is so people will stop looking down on me or feeling sorry for me, to prove to them I'm not a failure, because I'm not. Sorry if this sounds like a tirade, but I think most spinsters may read this and agree with me. What do you think? How do you keep your self confidence under such pressure?


jennifer said...

For me, I think such comments confusing because if I were a man buying a house, working diligently at a career I loved, and going back to school, I'd be quite a catch.

Anonymous said...

It is not easy maintaining a healthy self-esteem when you reach your 40s and have never married. I'm pretty sure I don't succeed at least half the time. On my most negative days, I think nothing I do will matter unless I find that elusive husband. It makes me angry to feel this way but there it is. Also I did buy a house but I don't recall it being a goal to meet by a certain age. I just needed a place to live. Since then I haven't notice any lessening of the "I can't believe you're still single" comments.

Spinster in the City said...

Jenn- You are quite a catch!

and bigdaddythinks-thanks for your comment. Half the time is pretty good. Self-esteem may just be my trial in life.

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Keep on keeping on, we're following you

Anonymous said...

I feel worthless and ugly. Nobody will miss me when I am gone. No children will visit my grave. I hate this stigma.
I never thought I would grow old alone.