Celebrating life now instead of waiting for a future that may never arrive

Written by Karissa Sovdi

I was once gifted Dom Perignon champagne for a housewarming with the instructions to save the bottle for a significant moment such as getting engaged or something equally substantial. Over the many years of not being engaged that followed, I gingerly packed that bottle and brought it to each new apartment—wondering with every new job and accomplishment if what I was experiencing was truly champagne-worthy.

The advantage of toting around a bottle of bubbly for nearly a decade was that I always took note of reasons to celebrate. But the lesson I learned is that I can miss out on many glorious moments if I limit my view of what is worth acknowledging.

Singleness is nearly always treated as both temporary and undesirable. When people ask me about being single, it feels as if they’re asking about a rash that I’ve had trouble curing and for which they have the perfect remedy: “Oh you’re still single? Have you tried putting Polysporin on it?”  Except it sounds more like, “Have you tried online dating?”

This and other similar advice to “pray for a spouse,” or “stop being so picky” ends up focusing more on how to get unsingle than on how to engage meaningfully in a single life. This can leave singles in a holding pattern between our now and not-yet lives.

We can forfeit the value of what currently exists for the expected marriage to come; in other words, we put our lives on hold. This reminds me of a moment in the political drama The West Wing where Martin Sheen’s character talks about why many Americans vote against tax cuts that will only impact the top one per cent of earners. “It doesn’t matter if most voters don’t benefit, they all believe that someday they will. That’s the problem with the American Dream, it makes everyone concerned for the day they’re gonna be rich.” 

Many singles plan their dream lives around a non-existent spouse and, in doing so, neglect to acknowledge their actual lives while waiting for their preferred lives to start.

I was one of those people who didn’t want to go to a certain restaurant or destination or try a particular activity because I was saving those things for a future partner. I have let fancy dishes sit unused in storage for the day when I would use them as a homemaker.

But storing up celebrations for a future that may never arrive or thinking life might run out of delights altogether is actually a scarcity mindset. In light of our abundant, rejuvenating God, this seems silly and maybe even sinful.

Storing up celebrations for a future that may never arrive is actually a scarcity mindset.

As we’re all too aware, Paul, in what I affectionately call “that damn passage in Corinthians,” actually calls singleness a gift. Most of us spend so much time trying to prove to God why we don’t qualify for the gift that we forget to consider how singleness might be something worthy of unwrapping.

As I have learned to stop putting my life on hold, I’ve discovered my singleness is a gift to me when I use it to live a better story, and it becomes a gift to others when I help them to live theirs.

There are many built-in excuses to celebrate non-singles. Couples get engagement parties, bachelor/ette parties, wedding showers and weddings, and subsequent anniversaries. Parents get birth announcement parties and gender reveal parties, baby showers, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, kids’ birthdays plus school pageants, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies.

These and even non-relationship-based holidays can emphasize romance both on the day and in the lead-up of photo shoots, gift registries, music, marketing, and decor.

But Hallmark doesn’t make cards to congratulate you on assembling your first piece of IKEA furniture alone. People don’t buy you presents for acing a test or finally hitting a new fitness milestone. Nobody takes you for dinner the first time you sign legal papers by yourself or travel independently. Celebrating singles takes intentionality and vigilance.

Since awakening to the dysfunction caused by waiting for marriage to start my life, I have become a story and celebration seeker. I dubbed one year “The Karissa Adventures” and funneled any discretionary income I could afford toward attending concerts, plays, comedy performances, and sporting events.

Of course, I still have the non-glamourous routines of work, chores, paying bills, and lonely TV nights. But I also take art and cooking classes, have tried all sorts of group fitness and dance-adjacent lessons, have sung in choirs, and performed in bands and improv troupes.

I regularly partake in local tourist attractions. I make sure my birthday is an event. I’m not above karaoke or crafting. I cheer wildly for the blue team at local sporting events. I dress up in my fanciest clothes to go to the ballet or the symphony. And I’m blessed to have cultivated a circle of friends who are willing to do some of these things with me. I’ve even been seen in a horse-drawn carriage in a ball gown for a friend’s birthday.

I’ve stopped waiting for people to throw me parties and have started to become someone who celebrates her own success and the success of others. Whether for me or someone else, I try not to let a promotion, new job, big move, academic achievement, athletic accomplishment, therapeutic breakthrough, key birthday, or friendiversary go by without buying a drink, a meal, a present, a card, or flowers.

I’ve stopped waiting for people to throw me parties and have started to become someone who celebrates her own success and the success of others.

I still mark the moments for babies and weddings, but I want all the people I love to know their accomplishments are valued, their milestones are worth regard, and their lives merit a pause in recognition, regardless of their family situation. I want to know that my life will be a celebration even if no one else is around to join the party.

Upon the completion of my master’s degree, I hosted my own graduation party. I invited as many family and friends who were willing to join me for a steak dinner at a fancy restaurant after the afternoon of photos in my cap and gown. It was not only the pinnacle of my academic achievement and the associated years of sacrifice, but a statement that I was worth celebrating.

The night before the ceremony, my immediate family crowded into the kitchenette of my hotel room with dollar-store plastic goblets. It was there that I surrendered my dusty bottle of Dom in the service of a true champagne moment—toasting the success of a woman who had become a celebrated friend.

Karissa Sovdi is a writer, counsellor, facilitator, and improviser from Victoria, B.C., and the author of the upcoming book Surviving Christianity Unmarried. Follow her on Instagram @karissasovdi for more on navigating Christian singleness.