I spend about half of my lunch break at work on Facebook, but I like to read something other than statuses and blogs for the second half. When I took this book to work, I was so embarrassed that I was careful to hide the cover. I work for a secular employer, and most of my coworkers are or have been married, so I was especially eager to avoid explaining my ownership of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right. The awkwardness of such a conversation was not worth fighting.
Having read it, though, and reflected on it for a few days, I am not so embarrassed that I couldn’t write this review. I identified with Emily Stimpson’s advice, enjoyed it, and learned too much not to!
I’m no stranger to books about being single, Catholic, and female. I reviewed How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul over a year ago. This book takes a very different approach, and although I wasn’t quite expecting what I found, I am very glad I read it.
It seems a little odd to be taking relationship advice from a never-married woman in her thirties. On the other hand, who could better give advice for the “meantime,” the years that I (and many other Catholic women) have spent unmarried and may yet spend unmarried for years and years more? It seems just as hard to take advice from married women: they know what worked for them, but that time had a definite, in-the-past end. For those of us staring down the future, it can be bittersweet to hear “success stories.” As soon as I related to Stimpson’s opening tale of (a friend told to resign herself to lifelong singleness at the ripe old age of twenty-seven), I knew I was in for a good read. Like her, I know the biological clock ticks a little louder with each passing year.
The best aspects of this book, though, were its practicality and its ability to speak the truths I have held onto for so long. Stimpson’s style/fashion guidelines are about the same as mine. Like me, she does not believe unconsecrated singlehood is a vocation. Like me, she knows that men just are as they are, and the best we can do to relate to them is to stop treating them as though they’re women. She understands the delicate balance between a career that is impressive to the world and uses our skills and abilities versus one that is fulfilling and can be compatible with motherhood, when the time comes.
The biggest surprise for me was Stimpson’s chapter on other people’s children. As my friends slowly get married and gradually become parents, it becomes harder (but not impossible) to maintain those friendships. I have learned to make friends with husbands (and with my guy friends’ wives), but I never thought much about their children. It’s a new way to approach this season when I don’t have children of my own. It’s a positive spin to what I saw for so long as a lack.
So, overall, I’m not embarrassed that I read this book. I am a little despondent that it was a hand-me-down. The friend who gave it to me? She is generous, she makes good recommendations, and she’s getting married. In the meantime, I feel rather better about being single, and I have some new strategies for this season.
Pray for me.
Featured image by epSos.de