As you may have noticed the FI community is one of most open communities out there. Whether it is on Facebook or on blogs, people never seem to mind sharing their income, FI number, how much they have in retirement and all sorts of numbers. Even if one the principles of FI is to enjoy life through experiences and not compare yourself to others(the famous Keeping up with the Joneses), when you are as active as I try to be on social media you can not help but comparing your situation to others’. “Have I started this journey too late? Can I reach FI on my salary when most of the pillars of this community seem to be making over 100k a year? The one question that I used to ask myself was ” can I make it on my own, is being single a handicap or a advantage? Let’s see.
Without falling into out dated cliches, when I look back at my childhood and teenage years, I remember precisely my female friends and family members(mostly cousins) talking about how they’d get married, buy a gorgeous house, have children, a few of them had carrer ideas or even ambitions sometimes but most of them really focused most of their dreams on their future family lives.
I was different though. Ever since I could remember all I could dream about was travelling, by myself. I would lie in bed at night, close my eyes and picture myself exploring the world. But never, even once, have I dreamed or even considered that all those dreams could include a special someone. It just never occurred to me.
I was raised in France, as a single child and was my parents’ biggest pride. Let’s face it, I grew up spoiled and until I lost my dad, I was a brat. As a child, I would not share my toys, or feel comfortable when someone was be in my room with me. Looking back, I don’t think I was a selfish child who didn’t one to share what she thought belonged to her. I think I just wanted to be left alone.
Like most introverts I have a fantastic imagination. I would have the best time writing crazy stories or just playing with my cats or riding horses. My parents always seemed to understand it and while they pushed me towards activities that would push me to be with other kids, they never forced me to invite friends over if I did not want to.
Even though they never forced me to socialise my parents did force me to endure the presence of my second cousin. I remember hating having her around, during every holiday season, every time we went to see my family , she had to be there with us.
Now, we are able to look back at this childhood we spent together with a lot of nostalgia and laugh at all the fun we had together. She truly is the sister I never had, I know that now, but when I was 12 and wanted to be alone, her presence was overwhelming at best, suffocating and unbearable at worse. It was no fault of hers though, all she wanted was to do all the things she could not do at home, travel a little, go to restaurants and spend time with me, the cousin she had that was the closest to her age.
See my cousin and I are as different as two people can be. She is only a few months younger than me but has been with her husband for 15 years and they have 3 children.
As adults we get along fine, we talk every week, I try to be as present as I can in her kids’ lives and she was there every day when I was sick, even if it was only on facebook.
See my cousin also had a few health scares but she pulled through and she is the strongest person I have ever met. She just moves forward no matter in how much pain she is in or how difficult it is to juggle a family life and a career. I admire her, a lot. She had less advantages than me growing up, she didn’t go to college, didn’t travel but somehow I used to feel she succeeded more than me. She has managed to accomplished the one thing I can never even attempt, her family. They are not perfect but they are making it work.
I know I’m never going to have the life that she has, nor do I want her life.
It took me years to accept myself as I am and to accept I will never have a “white picket fence” house with two kids and a dog and it took me even longer to say out loud that it was okay to not want any of this, that being single, with no life commitments is perfectly acceptable.
No life commitments? No exactly.
See when you are single you may not have children to depend on you emotionally or financially but still have a lot of responsibilities that can be overwhelming when you do not have that special someone to take half of the weight off your shoulders.
Here are a few example :
Have you ever tried to get a mortgage(or rent) when you are single?
- Single women(or men) who apply for a mortgage are often asked for a bigger deposit, a higher salary and are even forced to accept higher interest rates.
- In France where I am from, a real estate agent will ask your parents to co-sign the lease as guarantors, no matter how old you are or how much you make.
- Landlords will often hesitate to rent out their flat to a single person ” what will happens if you lose your job”. Often you will have to show them bank statements proving that you have sufficient savings to cover your basic expenses in case of a job loss.
Those are only a few of the “technical” obstacles you can face while trying to enter the wonderful world of ownership as a single person but there is also people’s judgment.
” But what if you meet someone in six months who doesn’t like your place? You will have to either rent or sell it”. It never occurs to people that single people like myself may not want to get married, ever, that this flat or house we spent years savings, looking for and months decorating will be ours and ours only and that we are perfectly happy with this.
I would not say that being single is as frowned upon as it used to be but I can not tell you how many times people have judged me for not wanting to be in a relationship or have children. “You will see, your biological clock will wake up soon enough”. I used to get mad trying to explain that I was not half a woman for not having that biologically needs to breed. Now I simply point out all I have accomplished as a single person, all the countries I have visited, all the experiences that still fill my heart with joy just thinking about them. Childish, I know, but how many of us have suffered through the ” look at my son, first of his class, the teachers say he has the intellect to be a Doctor ” ? So, I think bragging about all the things I have been able to do specifically because I am single is only fair.
Yes, there is so much you can do when you are single. It may take you a little longer to achieve your dreams but you will have so much more freedom because you will not have someone to slow you down, someone who you will inevitably struggle to agree with, often on basic decisions.
See when you are single, the house you will buy will be yours and yours only. You can decorate it with your collection of antiques or paint the walls in bright yellow if you fancy it, nobody will have to right to object.
When you are single if you want to leave for say …Canada for two weeks and only do one thing, like I do not know, whale watching for ten straight days, you can. There is no bending yourself in two to try satisfy someone else. You want to have sea food for dinner? Pizza? Or just sa simple ham and cheese sandwich? You can do it. You are not accountable to anyone. Not to mention you do not have to wait until your better half can afford to travel. Yes, when you are single decision making is so much easier and takes way less time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not always easy to travel on your own, there are some places where you would rather not be alone and some amazing places that make you think ” I wish I had someone to share this with.” But mostly, I would say that my experience as a single traveler has been amazing. I have been able to make friends abroad, friends who share my passion for whale watching and I have been able to spend time with them without looking at my watch thinking ” Oh sorry I have to go, my better half has made plans for tonight.”
The word I would use to describe my single life is freedom. I am free to do what ever I want where I want, the way I want to. I can not say that I never feel lonely because I do sometimes but I mostly enjoy my own company or having the luxury of truly being able to choose the people I spend time with.
When it comes to reaching FI, yes it will certainly take me longer on my own on my salary but when I finally reach my FI number I will be proud to say that I did it on my own, that I have set a goal to myself and stuck to it. I know there will be ups and downs but I know I can do it. Why? Because of this amazing community.
See, being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
Like I said before, I may travel alone but I have made friends in Canada who share my passion for whale watching and I always spend my days with them.
It is the same for FI. I may be on my own on this journey but I’m definitely not alone. Like I said at the beginning of this article, this community is the most open and welcoming and diverse I have ever seen.
That is the beauty of the internet and also of our generation. You can find anything and everything online and people to share it with. For introverts like me, needless to say it is the greatest invention of all times.
I often read testimonies of people who feel they are alone with their spouses, that their families and friends just do not get the concept of FI, so imagine how us single feel?
Well, no more! Don’t hesitate to check the chooseFI group on facebook, I often post there and have always received answers to even the silliest questions!
In conclusion, I think the hardest challenger of being single is to rid yourself off the fear of failing without having anyone to pick you up and to stop caring about what other think.
So remember, you do you. You will stumble, you will fall but you will make it, it does not matter if your choices are deemed unconventional by society, your way of living your life is perfectly fine. You will send haters postcards from your own little paradise when you are retired and they are still looking at a 25+ years of their boring, exhausting 9-5 job.