Saturday, March 26, 2011

Singles and being busy

I think that it is a well known fact that of all the adult population, singles generally have the most "disposable" amount of time on their hands, and freedom to schedule their days on a whim. Most young adult singles, I think, manage to fill up their schedules pretty quickly, sometimes very much stretching themselves thin.

When I lived in Washington, D.C., I was very busy. Much busier than I am now. Some of this had to do with having an established group of friends, and living in a city where there were formal and informal events for Catholic young adults nearly every night of the week. I have gotten involved in the young adult group here in Nashville which is wonderful and has been such a blessing to me, but overall, there are not as many events here, and even informal gatherings are more spread out.

Some of my busyness also had to do with the frenetic pace of life in such a big city, particularly the length of my 1-hour-each-way commute. With a blissfully short 5-minute commute here in Nashville, I definitely have much more time on my hands during the week. Weekends are also less busy, since I don't have family around to spend Saturdays or Sundays with; there are less opportunities to carve out time during the weekend to spend time with family.

This being "less busy" can be both a blessing, and a curse. In many ways, as a single with free time on your hands, especially if you live alone, inevitably leads to more feelings of loneliness.

One of my friends, who is a very active extrovert, says that she specifically plans lots of activities and gets involved with lots of different groups, charities, and commitments just so she does not have to be at her apartment alone to experience the pangs of loneliness.

In some ways, I absolutely understand the rationale of planning out every minute of your day, particularly the weekends, to be filled with "something" so that you are so distracted that you forget your are lonely and longing for something more.

There is something to be said for making the most of your time; for using the gift of time that we have been given to reach out to others and touch those in need. I myself am looking for more ways to get connected with the community here; to find organizations and individuals that are in need that I can reach out to on a regular basis. I think that serving is a calling and a duty for everyone, but as singles we have to be especially creative and motivated to find the specific niches to which the Lord is calling.

But I do not think that the anecdote to our loneliness should or can be frenetically busy schedules. I truly admire singles who are able to take the time and courage to just be. With themselves. With the Lord. It takes courage to hear the echoes within our solitary hearts, and these moments of loneliness are moments that can be transformed from pain into grace.

In the end, I think that it is important that all of us, no matter what state of life that we are in, that we strive for a life of balance. As singles, who do have the luxury of having more free time but I think that it is a responsibility for us to cultivate moments of meditation, silence, and rest in order that our active lives might be more fruitful and intentional. Obviously, for the amount of time spent in activities versus rest will depend on our temperaments and preferences. Finding that balance is a challenge, though, and one that can only be reached through prayer, reflection, and receptivity to the Holy Spirit.

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