reading / teaching

Looking Up the Spinster Tag on Tumblr

I wanted to see more reviews and thoughts on Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own because the reviews on goodreads were just…I don’t know, I found them very judgmental. Which I realize is rather obvious, because reviews are basically judging a literary work. But they were unsatisfying for me to read, for whatever reason.

The tag ‘spinster’ on tumblr mobile doesn’t just bring up any posts tagged with that word, but also if the word appears anywhere within the post, the poster’s url, etc. So it’s a rather broad and unhelpful search function. But I scrolled away despite that.

There are posts that lament being doomed to be a spinster cat lady. Which I did expect. And should have expected to find that the age of these original posters who mourn this future, are anywhere from 17-27 years of age.

You know that anger that just starts in your stomach and just burns you up from the inside? The anger that you are incredibly sure is righteously based? The anger at the unfairness of a situation, the injustice, the ‘you have to be kidding me!’ type of emotion that you know that you are on the right side of?

Yeah, that anger. That was my reaction to these lamenting posts. How dare they at such young ages bemoan their singleness and dramatize that their futures, which are full of years left, are going to be loveless! How dare they express their feelings in such a public manner when I, at 34 years old, have been dealing with the lack of relationship for a heck of a lot longer.

How dare they feel!

I know a woman, a good friend of the family, who is about 20 years older than me. She used to work with a missionary organization, specifically with kids and now she’s a middle school counselor. She is a godly, amazing and wise woman.

She has never been married.

I don’t know personally if she’s every been in love, or engaged, or in some form gotten close to that elusive status. I see her almost once a year and our conversations inevitably consist of being a woman who wants, but does not have.

She’s made a lot of peace with never marrying. She has always wanted to in the time I’ve known her, to have kids and a family. It’s not like she ever out and out made the decision to stay single forever as some sort of spiritual oath and commitment. She wanted and probably still wants, just like I do.

I bring her up because I have probably said, or alluded to, the idea of my future being doomed as a single. i wonder if she’s ever thought to herself, “how dare she complain about being single? I have twenty years on her and suffered even longer!”. Probably not. Like I said, she’s a pretty awesome person.

In looking at these posts on tumblr and having that visceral reaction of judgment and snobbery (It’s so patronizing of me to look at these people and sneer at their feelings because mine are more ‘right’ because I’ve lived longer), I was humbled by my realization that if anyone listens to me and my complaints, I am exactly the same as those young girls who whine about something they have no knowledge will or will not occur.

I’m reading Cupid is a Procrastinator by Kate Hurley, a Jesus-centered look at being a single woman. I’m about 100 pages in and this book is so exactly how I feel that half of me is convinced that I’ve written it myself. When I started it, I searched and scoured the internet for the author’s age. Because if she was under thirty, I was done. I would dismiss any wisdom she could offer due to her age. (I never found the exact age, but she mentions that she is a 30-something and judging from other things, she’s easily my age or older). Is this snobby of me? Am I age-ist?

Maybe a little. In the case of the subject matter of the book, finding someone my age or older is important. It would be hard to connect with anyone younger due to their life experience. But age does not invalidate one’s thoughts, feelings and potential wisdom. My female students’ despair at being single is real. Does it mean they ‘get’ my situation? No, but they don’t comprehend that fully. How could they? However, their yearning is as honest as mine.

Perhaps my few years over them can assist as they journey on into relationships and a lack of. Maybe that’s why my relationship status is the same as it was when I joined social media however many years ago.

And maybe I shouldn’t go into the spinster tag any more either. 🙂

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