I Believe in Being SINGLE First

I believe in marriage and that’s what this post was supposed to be about, and this is how it started originally:

“I want to speak to multiple audiences.  Those who are happily married, those who feel unhappily married, and those who aren’t married.  I’ve been in two of those positions at least and I’ve witnessed the third.  Here’s me in my single days.”


But… when I got to my “single days,” I couldn’t stop looking through the pictures that I wanted to share.  There are so many moments that were an integral part of developing into who I am today, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t have the marriage that I have today if I hadn’t had those experiences.  I had a blast and I grew up so much!  (Sing it with me: “Now I…had…the time of my life…).  And so… the topic of my post has changed. “I Believe in Marriage” will have to wait for another day because

I Believe in Being Single First.

I’m going to photo-blast you with the building blocks of the young adult years, also known as The Decade of Decisions, that shaped me.  Look for the captions because they fill in the gaps.

This girl started her college years as a dork.  Definite Harry Potter nerd.  She didn't know how to fix her hair or buy a shirt that wasn't a T-shirt.
This girl started her college years as a straight-up dork. Definite Harry Potter nerd. She didn’t know how to fix her hair or buy a shirt that wasn’t a T-shirt.
She loved adventures and was all about travel, which continued throughout those years.  By the way, this is in the early days of selfies, and it was taken with a real camera, not a phone! (gasp!)
She loved adventures and was all about travel, which continued throughout those years. By the way, this is in the early days of selfies, and it was taken with a real camera, not a phone! (gasp!)
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She attended football games, though she didn’t know the rules. It was a social event at that point.  Yes, she was one of those.
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She would go home in the summers to work, save up, and see old friends.
She would also spend time with her family at Christmas and in the summer.
To see her parents.
California 199
and siblings.
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Back at school, this was the life! 
She did a study abroad in Spain while in college.  Best college advice ever. It's the same living expenses and tuition. No other time can you get the same bang for your buck.
She did a study abroad in Spain while in college. Best college advice ever. It’s the same living expenses and tuition. No other time can you get the same bang for your buck or learn to be brave and daring and unafraid to make mistakes.  Learning a new language is hard! You definitely get outside of your comfort zone.
And stay friends with those people.  They're the ones who will go try international cuisines with you. (And they'll like them!)
And she stayed friends with those people. They’re the ones who would go try international cuisines with her. (And they liked them!)
She served a proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salta, Argentina mission.
She served a proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salta, Argentina mission.
During that time, she asked herself how she could be so blessed in her life?
During that time, she asked herself how she could be so blessed in her life with so many opportunities.
College, work, a mission, and an untold future? She was feeling overwhelmed by the love of God, both for her and for the people she served and got to know.
College, work, a mission, and an untold future? So many people have blessings, but she was getting to “do it all.” She was feeling overwhelmed by the love of God, both for her and for the people she served and got to know.

But as many young women, coming into their own, she did sometimes struggle, especially once she graduated school and began working without knowing the future. This is what she learned.

She was stronger than she thought. (She got to be an EFY counselor out in Nauvoo.  So fun!)
You are stronger than you think. (She got to be an EFY counselor out in Nauvoo. So fun!)
Exercise is AWESOME!
Exercise is AWESOME!
It feels so good!
It feels so good!
I Believe in Marriage & in Being SINGLE First
Adventure and vacations are a must!
The best things in life are those things and those people who build you up.
The best things in life are those things and those people who build you up.
Don't compare yourself to others.  (She's in a bathing suit and she just put that picture online. 10 years ago, that never would have happened.)
Don’t compare yourself to others. (She’s in a bathing suit and she just put that picture online. 10 years ago, that never would have happened.)
Embrace your inner-nerd. We're all nerdy in our own way.  Plus! The funniest sitcom characters are the nerds. Big Bang Theory?
Embrace your inner-nerd. We’re all nerdy in our own way.  Plus! The funniest sitcom characters are the nerds. Big Bang Theory?
She was capable of independence and self reliance.
You are capable of independence and self-reliance.
...which coincidentally or NOT, is exactly what her husband was looking for.
…which coincidentally, or NOT, is exactly what her husband was looking for.

Okay! Switching back to first person!

When one by one, my friends started getting married, I learned that independence and self-reliance even more, which has really paid off.  By the way, you can play I-SPY in these photos.  Find me! (There were plenty more I could have added too.)

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Being married to a medical school student requires a lot of independence, so it’s a good thing I started working on it early!

She got her first teaching job.  This is a group of fellow teaching majors at one of our college reunion dinner dates.  We all taught English throughout Utah.  Some of us even attended conferences together.
I got my first teaching job. This is a group of fellow teaching majors at one of our college reunion dinner dates. We all taught English throughout Utah. Some of us even attended conferences together.  I was Ms. Johnson at the time.
Made even more friends.
I made new friends.
I Believe in Being Married, But Being Single First
And more!
And I took vacations.
And I took vacations.
The Harry Potter nerd part never died, but seven years later, the hair improved.  Don't bother telling me if you disagree.  ;)
The Harry Potter nerd part never died, but seven years later, the hair improved. Don’t bother telling me if you disagree. 😉

Now I understand that we all have different paths in life and we probably have them for a reason, but I needed those times before I got married. There’s a cheesy song that I love from the musical Wicked that says “we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return.”  Those lyrics are true of not just the people in our lives, but in our paths as well.

I needed to step forward through a tunnel, not knowing what lay ahead all by myself so that I could develop the faith to keep stepping forward.  I needed that, and my faith did grow.

Margaret Nadauld said, “The world has enough [men and] women who are tough; we need [men and] women who are tender. There are enough [of us] who are coarse; we need [men and] women who are kind. There are enough [men and] women who are rude; we need [men and] women who are refined. We have enough [men and] women of fame and fortune; we need more [men and] women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”  Those are the types of characteristics, I was working on in that phase of my life and that I continue to work on.

Kristen M. Oaks, who married at 53, received a blessing where she was told,  “if you cannot bear the difficulties and challenges of single life, you will never be able to bear the difficulties and challenges of married life.”  I believe that was true in my case as well, and I loved hearing it when I did.  She called herself the poster child for Single Adults.

While most of the above pictures are of the moments that uplifted me, I also had challenges and disappointments.  Funnily enough, I don’t have pictures of them. We as human beings of the Social Media age don’t typically take pictures of the inner worries and fears or setbacks.  But Oaks is right.  The resilience I learned while not in a relationship, has been such a blessing in my marriage today.

And so, though I am happily married a decade after that young adult adventure began in 2005 and though I believe in marriage, I believe in being SINGLE first, even in a community where many people marry younger.  I wouldn’t trade those formative years. I would have missed out on some of the pieces that I personally needed to be ready for life’s next big adventures: marriage, medical school, teaching in the South, having kids, and so on. And aside from helping me grow in my faith, man, it was fun!

God does have a path for each of us, and our choices affect that path.  That continues being true and will be true for all my life.

Thanks for joining me on my Throwback Photo-jam! I hope you are enjoying your own ride!  This One’s for the Girls.  (Stay tuned for Part Two next week: I Believe in Marriage.)

Besos!

Sarah

Though I believe in marriage, I believe in being SINGLE first.  Those are the formative years that helped me become who I am today.

*Note: this post was not intended as a brag-fest, simply a statement of gratitude for the lessons learned.

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