What Beyonce and Gloria Gaynor Have in Common: On Surviving Young Single Adulthood

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After reflecting on my year as a LadyMo, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on my life as a young single adult. It almost makes me want to start singing and dancing with Beyonce and all the “Single Ladies.” In fact, it was almost the title of this post. I debated between that and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” I assure you, anything that is able to make reference to both of those songs in the same post is not about to paint a pretty picture. 

I want to write this post for a few reasons:

1. Someday, I want to look back and share a good laugh with my husband about being a young single adult and how glad I am that it doesn’t last forever (please!?!?)

2. I feel compelled to shed a little light on the life of a single 25 year old woman (Really, it’s so ridiculously unglamorous).

3. I need to explain myself to the people who actually know me and hope they forgive me for dropping off the planet for the last 2-3-7-24 months.

I also preface this with a collective understanding that this is not a plea for pity, just a presentation for insight and an opportunity to reflect.

Let’s start with a picture, shall we? This gem is brought to you by Robert Kelly.

I am blessed to be among the employed citizens in this country, but I also think it’s a little ridiculous that I need 2-3 jobs in order to make ends meet. I love my jobs, I really do, but I wish I didn’t have to work 70+ hours a week to pay my bills.

My bishop asks me almost every time we meet if I’m doing okay with the hours I keep … I tell him, as I tell most people who ask lately, that I’m surviving. My days and weeks and months are lived entirely for the purpose of surviving until the next one.

With the exception of a recent trip to Utah, which I forgot about until a friend reminded of today, and two days of State of Kansas mandated workman’s compensation, I’ve had one day off since Christmas (and before that, not since August, unless I was so sick I couldn’t tolerate leaving my room). I work every day of the week, and most of those days (6), I’m working two jobs. Sundays, I get a break with a wimpy 6 hour shift, but that’s after typically 5-7 church related hours. Here’s a quick rundown of my week:

  • Sunday: Church stuff all day (VTing, YSA meetings, Temple prep, 3 hour block, etc) and work at Job B from 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. By the time I get home I’m so pooped, I just crawl into bed to get ready for the next marathon day. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I have enough energy or desire to write a LadyMo post. Today is my lucky day!
  • Monday-Thursday: Work at Job A from 9:45 a.m. – 2 p.m. and then race to Job B from 2:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.
  • Friday – Saturday: Job A from 9:45 a.m. – 8 or 9 p.m.

Why do I have to work so much? I am a young single adult. Because I’m an adult, I’m expected to fulfill certain adult responsibilities (rent, bills, car payments, renewing my embarrassingly expired tags, tuition and student loans, medical expenses, feeding myself, clothing myself… occasionally bathing myself). Because I’m single, I don’t have a companion with which to share these responsibilities. Because I’m young, I’m still learning out how to figure this out. And I admit, I’m struggling. It stresses me out, sometimes it makes me cry, and honestly, I’m just trying to survive.

While I enjoy a lot about both of my jobs, they aren’t exactly cake walks. Job A is a physically demanding and mentally taxing experience during which I do my very best to meet the needs and please the demands of brides, a few of whom are slowly losing grip on reality, all while maintaining a Sales Per Hour high enough to guarantee a paycheck  (good news at Job A is that I have amazing bosses). Job B is a physically demanding and emotionally taxing experience during which I balance my time between keeping 8 year-old boys happy and alive (sometimes we’re just in keeping-them -alive mode) and fending off the physical (yes, physical) and emotional abuses of co-workers who don’t like me because I’m not Deaf.

My effort to make ends meet, to survive whatever length of time I arbitrarily decide to endure, is wearing on my body. I physically cannot keep up with these demands. Around 10 years old, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). For me, it involves chronic pain, constant adjustment of medications that make me sick, and practically intimate relationships with a team of doctors. On top of that, it has contributed to an eating disorder I have been battling for who knows how long. A little over a month ago, I was in the hospital with a burst ovarian cyst. Ever have one? They suck. One in a lifetime is debilitating and scarring – I get them at least 5 times a year. I can’t predict when I’ll get one, I can’t prepare for them, nor can I exist normally after one for about three days. I know that when my body is stressed, I’m more likely to experience one, but there is little time or space left in my schedule to make room for “calm.”

Two weeks ago, at work (because, really, when am I not at work?) I blew out my ankle and landed myself in a walking boot and air cast. I left the ER with doctor’s instruction to take it easy and stay off it while it heals (which, he says, could take up to 3 months). I got 2 days off during which I puked my guts out from the medication and pain.

Because I literally cannot afford to not be at work, I got back on my gimpy feet and went to both jobs. Last night, after a double shift at Job A and 14 hours of lugging 50lb wedding gowns back and forth to delightfully demanding brides, I came home to put my feet up only in an effort to stymie my desire to cut them off. My roommate, bless her aware-of-my-needs heart, insisted I put bags of frozen vegetables on my clearly (and grossly) swollen ankles; “Uh, LadyMo, I don’t think they’re supposed to look like that…” So, me and the peas kicked back for a while. I didn’t get up until morning because it hurt too freaking much to move. I just slept on the couch and prayed for the ability to make it to the bathroom if the demands presented.

My efforts to make it to the end of the week are also putting a lot of strain on my relationships. My friends, our relationships have taken quite the beating over the last few months. I miss being at your kitchen tables or in your living rooms playing games and having great conversations that start here and end way over there. I miss talking to you, whether you’re down the street or across the country. I miss the downtime we can use freely and foolishly to kick back and relax and enjoy each other. I really just miss you.

I haven’t seen any member of my family in almost 2 years. A few of them believe I’m slipping away, that I’m losing sight of who I am… and they think it’s because of my membership in the church. My conversations lately have everything to do with justifying my physical and emotional absence as a consequence of being a young and overly employed poor 25 year old and not because I belong to a church they don’t fully understand. With the few moments I have with my family anymore, I’d so much rather use them to talk about real and wonderful and fun and beautiful and uplifting things. I’m sick of repeatedly wasting that time on frustrating justifications and clarifications. I used to talk to my  dad a few times a day. Now, I’m lucky if I have time to check in with him once a week. Unless you count back and forth Facebook posting of “How I Met Your Mother” quotes, I haven’t talked to my sister in about 6 months. I miss her so much. My mom and I talk about once a month and it usually is a frustrating battle of wills that ends with someone (me) in tears.

A lot of people ask how I do this. I usually just slap a smile on my face and say, “I’m surviving.” Readers, being a young single adult, especially one who lives 1,200 miles from home and is doing everything she can to make it work, is hard. It’s hard freaking work and I look forward to the day that I get to live a life so different from the one I know now.

On top of this heaping scoop of lamenting the woe is me, I’ve had one incredible experience almost every night. Like I said, I get home every night and have just enough energy to crawl into bed to fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. In that quiet time and space between my head meeting my pillow, “Be Still My Soul” is playing like a lullabalic (made that word up) reminder that God’s got my back. He’ll see me through the young and single part while I figure out the adult part.

To my friends and family, I want you to know – I need you to know, that I’m not slipping away. I’m stretched as thin as I can without snapping in half and I’m doing the best I can to make it to and through the next day.

To my fellow young single adult readers, we got this. I think.

So much love,

The Physically and Emotionally Exhausted LadyMo

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6 responses »

  1. Miss LadyMo….don’t you know I love you so? (said in a sing-songy voice). You are going to survive! I wish things weren’t so hard and work-intense for you. Don’t forget that you always have a soft place to fall….

  2. Hey friend — I just want to take responsibility for some of those friendships that haven’t had a good check-in and catch-up in so many weeks or months. Another Young Single Adult over here. But you’ve reminded me of how much I value you and miss you too, so I will do my best to be better about keeping in touch! A giant email novella of love is headed your way 🙂

    B-shizzle

  3. Sometimes surviving isn’t enough. Holy Hannah.

    You know I’m a phone call away if you need to break down or something. I’m glad that comic strip resonated with you…. I showed it to my neighbor/former co-worker who is a single mom with two jobs working 7 days a week, and the first thing she said is, “That’s my story!”

    It’s freaking everyone’s story these days. I really, really hate that.

  4. Dude, you are amazing!!! You’ve got lots of people rooting for you! 🙂 Forgot who said it in general conference, but President Monson said to that newly called general authority, “It’s better to look up!”
    Love you to pieces! (which is a good thing, because that’s what it sounds like you’ll be here shortly. haha!)

  5. I can’t even imagine how packed your life is. How do you have time to sleep, shop, or eat, let alone blog? You are so amazing. You are in my prayers.

  6. Although we may be separated by the physical miles, and although we may be unable to talk several times a day, there isn’t a day that goes by when you are not in my thoughts. You are a strong, independent woman that any one would be honored to know. Regardless oh how you worship – you have God with you. I will always be that annoying little voice you hear in your ear and that strange little tickle on your shoulder that you simply want to knock off. Yes, whenever you call I’ll always be there (and sometimes even when you don’t want me there…). I know life seems difficult right now and you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, but rest assured you are not alone…

    Like the poem “Footprints” states, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”

    And when you feel you are alone I want you to read Isaiah 41:10.

    And if all else fails and you still feel like life has handed you a mitt full of lemons… Well then suck it up, make that sqishy sour face and make a nice picture of lemon aid!!

    Lots of love,
    Pa Dukes

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