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Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.
Several Summers ago a dear friend of mine who I have known for a long time returned from what should have been a fun-filled adventure to Lake Powell with a rather large group of single adults. I know she had been looking forward to it for months and to see her so crest-fallen caused me to feel both sad and angry at the same time.
What had gone so wrong?
She then proceed to tell me what was eating her up inside: the trip, while filled with well-meaning people, had been full of what she described as "shallow socialness." She related being surrounded by shaved chests, chiseled abs, bleached white teeth, perfect hair, impeccable swimsuits, implants, toned arms, and so on. I'm not saying all that is bad, but the next part irked me. When she talked of the "cliques" and "groups" who (while they would never admit it before God) secretly treated themselves as if they were better than others, as if their looks or popularity gave them some advantage over the "less" physically attractive ones, well, I felt it in the pit of my stomach. She had been marginalized by those who were so focused on having fun that they pushed a dear soul to the sidelines.
If you haven't read any of my previous articles regarding the joys and wonders of the LDS midsingle world (examples here, here and here), then perhaps you aren't aware of my satirical take on all things midsingle. Disclaimer: don't take everything I write seriously, although I have put my heart into a few such posts, including The Future Spouse Jar and The Case of the Tin Soldier.
But like many of you, the preparation for attending an LDS midsingle event can be both time and energy consuming (which is why Facebook invented the "Maybe" going option). First you have to read about the event on Facebook, then click on the "Attending" list to see who is going, then reach out to your friend group (aka "the team") to see what everyone is thinking. Should we go? Is there another party or dance or bonfire or hike or Powell party or game night or or or etc. etc. etc. You get my drift.
And then, once a decision has been made (which depending on the size of your friend group could be a miracle in and of itself), then comes The Preparation. Now, ladies, I won't even begin to comment on the labors you go through to get ready for the dances or parties or any of the midsingle social events, really. But I think what you'll read below speaks for all of us when I describe what we feel when we get ready to head to whatever event we've decided to attend (thirty to sixty+ minutes late, mind you; best to be fashionably late).
Raise your hand if checking your cell phone is the first thing you do in the morning. Come on, be honest, you know it is. You check your texts, then your Facebook, Tinder for a bit then maybe, just maybe, you do something big-kid-like and look up the news or perhaps even the weather. But somewhere in there, you are mentally checking your schedule. Thank goodness for calendar reminders, right? And Facebook's convenient "Events" tab to keep us on top of our social outings.
On a more serious note, I highly recommend spending five minutes in the morning putting together a To-Do list and outlining what you'll do that day. I have seen Olympic gold medalists do this, international CEOs do this and even award-winning artists do this. It is well worth it!
"Are you going tonight?" Who knows that at lunchtime? I mean, we still have the rest of the afternoon to decide, plus a few hours after work. No need to make any decisions just yet; we might get a better offer or invite at the last minute, right?
While you're trying to decide, if you need any more indication about our demographic's inability to commit then just look at the "Attending/Maybe Attending" ratio on any event's page.
While siting in a seminar recently that delightfully I was able to just listen to instead of speaking at the well-intentioned speaker listed tips to appear more attractive to members of the opposite sex. I wanted to raise my hand and ask, "What is your true purpose in listing those things, is it to educate or to flatter?"
Let's see if any of this sounds familiar. While I agree with some of the traits/items mentioned in these lists online and in magainzes, the others just sound plain sexist if not over the top. For example, ladies you apparently are supposed to be fit (more than one list specifically said so you can look good naked), wear dresses or form-fitting clothes, be submissive, cook well, be a good mom or not have kids (because that's not contradictory), don't swear too much, be educated/intelligent, be giving, be a good friend, don't be overly emotional, and the lists go on and on. I'm not even female and that list felt overwhelming.
Which brings me to the ten-thousand lists out there online, in magazines, journals, etc. that list "Things Women Find Attractive in Men." Now, a little background. This topic has come to mind after years and years of private conversations with some of the greatest guy friends and teammates, coworkers and fellow members of my church. This is not a "poor us" article, but rather one designed to stand as a voice for these men who are amazing dads, hard workers, great athletes, genuine friends and even powerful disciples of Christ who are doing their best. They may not have won the genetic lottery or even the financial one, but these are incredibly good guys.
If this were a Sherlock Holmes story the title would be, "The Case of the Tin Soldier."
Let's face it: the LDS midsingles world is a complicated conglomeration of faith and fun, uplifting moments and crushing disappointments. And while there are plenty of jokes to be made, spiritual experiences to share and experiences we love to cherish (and other we can't wait to forget), the truth is that we all have to stick together during this period in our lives.
That being said, some midsingles want to live in the neighborhood of Singlesville a bit too long. The goal of every midsingle should be to move out of this community as soon as possible. And by possible, I include all the no-brainer qualifications: finding a worthy companion who respects you and the Lord and desires to cherish you both through honoring their covenants.
But I digress. We have to laugh at ourselves sometimes as Latter-day Saints and I can't think of a more humor-filled era of this life than the LDS midsingles world. I would know, I've been in it for far too long so based on my years of experience (my dad is shaking his head), here are the 13 Midsingle Articles of Faith. And yes, read this with a large grain of salt and a healthy sense of humor.
Social Media: noun, websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
With over 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts around the world, social media has become a way of life. And maybe too much so. I mean, how many cat videos, food images and duck faces do we need to see each week?
But we love to share, don't we? Teens spend an average of 3 hours a day on social media, 30% of all time spent online is on social media, and our total time spent on social media beats time spent eating/drinking, socializing, and grooming combined. In fact, it is estimated that people will spend an average total of 5 years and 4 months of their lifetime on social media. Wow. That's a bit much.
In fact, the study of social media addiction is a very real issue nowdays with programs being designed to help users tame their dependence on likes, shares and comments.
Well, I don't want to get into all that. What I DO want to do, however, is poke a little fun at all the, well, pokes and shares and comments and posts. So I created a weekly Social Media Bingo Sheet for your to use and hopefully enjoy a bit of a laugh at how silly we as human beings can be online. Don't get me wrong, I like social media as much as anyone for its ability to connect, but we do have some entertaining habits and trends as a society. So download or print your Social Media Bingo Card out and have some fun this week!
Admit it, the title alone intrigued you. "Is he trying to grow a spouse in a jar like this?" No, this is more of a proactive suggestion for all my single friends, although admittedly this project could be good for any healthy couple to try.
Now, I'm not crafty by any means. I love being creative through writing, graphic and web design and advertising/marketing, but I'm probably going to pass on from this life without ever posting some idea to Pinterest. Sorry, Pin-aholics (update: I've given in and joined this Pinside).
That being said, I have had plenty of experience being single and in a moment of 100% honesty I'll admit that yes, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about my future spouse. Who will she be? What will she be like? What will be her likes, dislikes, hobbies, passions, insecurities, strengths and faith? How will she spend her time, what career path has she followed, what books does she like to read or TV shows does she like to watch? What have been her greatest achievements and her deepest secrets and fears?
When people ask, "Why are you single? You should be married!" it takes a lot of willpower not to shout, "It's not like I don't want to be!" And that's what I've come to realize over the past decade: I do want to be. Sorry all you marriage-haters and "I'm too happy just playing to get tied down again" mid singles; I'm not swimming in your pool.
Public Service Announcement Ahead:
Having spent a few years now in the wonderfully diverse world of LDS Mid Singles, I've learned that there is no such thing as an "average" or "typical" mid single. Sure, many of our challenges are "similar" (kind of like a Ferrari and a Pinto are both "cars"), but our personalities, backgrounds, goals and individual situations in life are as varied as the sands on the seashore.
That being said, I feel like there are some big divides (some intentional, some through ignorance) between mid singles and everyone else in their family wards. And while I say this with love ("bless your hearts"), I have to be honest: it's usually not the mid singles' fault. These problems often come from the members of their family wards themselves.
"We try to include everyone in our ward family!" you cry. Ok, when was the last time you made an effort to reach out to a single person in your ward or neighborhood? If you're in a family ward (indicating the relationship majority) I'm willing to bet that all your activities, lessons and efforts are focused on the traditionally married families. Yes, the family unit is central to God's plan, but have you considered that you could be making the mid singles in your ward feel ostracized, forgotten, belittled and like failures?
Let me put this as lovingly and clearly as possible: please stop making your mid singles neighbors feel like they have a big scarlet letter on their chest. Whether divorced with kids, divorced with no kids, widowed, never married with kids or never married with no kids, here are things you are doing or saying that make mid singles feel UN-welcome.
Bless your hearts.
For all my fellow mid-singles, I hear your pain. You work hard at your job, to raise your kids as a single-parent, to keep your health in top shape and try to generally stay ahead of the wave in life. And when a party comes around, you are ready for a break, to kick back and just have a good time. So you plan your schedule accordingly, get yourself ready, call up your friends and head out to enter the exciting social scene.
And we've all been there right? We love to socialize, meet new people, see old friends and just generally have a good time. But frequently we run into the same types of people at these parties, so I present to you the 10 People You See at Mid-Singles Parties. Take it all in good fun, I've exaggerated some and written others with perfect honesty. I'll led you decide which is which!
1. The A-Teamers
You know who I'm talking about, the group of about a half-dozen guys and girls who show up together with a mission to kill (socially and romantically). They tend to view themselves as the IT crowd and watch each others' backs, laugh at each others' jokes, stay within eye-sight and generally try to turn themselves into the nucleus of the parties social atomic structure. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with an A-Team (I loved the TV show), but don't be so into your friends that you ignore everyone else around you. Be inclusive, not exclusive.
2. The Pack
You know exactly who I'm talking about here. That group of girls who walk (strut?) into the party and look like they are trying to turn the place into a club. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes and a perfect concept of their magnificence. Now, I'm not judging by appearances because "beauty" is never an indication of the heart. Rather, its what The Pack does that I'm conflicted about. These girls remind me of the movie Mean Girls and kudos to any guy who tries to talk to any girl in this group because he runs the risk of getting torn to shreds. The Pack is on scene to be seen and attention is their drug of choice.
3. The Bros
Simply put, The Bros are the male version of The Pack. The guys greet each other with grunts, high-fives, chest bumps, bro-hugs and loud shouts that remind me of high school jocks yelling at each other in the hall. The Bros dress alike in skin-tight shirts to show off their gym results (probably Affliction or MMA shirts) and top-dollar shoes because everyone looks at your shoes at a party (sarcasm, me?). These guys are there to eat, check out the girls and otherwise try to show that they are the life of the party so the party should center around them. Top shelf substance, these dudes.
Behold! Oh ye married people, this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip inside the mind of your single and midsingle friends! While they know you mean well whenever you ask about their dating lives or try to help them find true love (thank you for your efforts, by the way), here are some things that they may think on their more snarky, bitter, sick-of-dating days. When you ask these questions, here is what they say...and what they quite possibly really think.
So yes, everything written here should be taken with a grain of salt and a big side of laughter.
What we usually say: "I guess I just haven't found the right person yet."
What we are really thinking: "That mystery goes right up there with some of Steven Hawking's theories: unfathomable. You probably mean that as a compliment, but what it sounds like is that I'm doing something wrong and need to figure out what that is so I can get married, because obviously I'm not doing my best to improve myself, love my life and be open to finding that person whenever it happens. Thanks, Dr. Phil!"
I know that most people who ask this question have great intentions and want us to remember just how great they think we are. But seriously, don't ask this question. Ever. There is no good way to answer it and singles hate trying to do so.
What we usually say: "Well, I try not to be..."
What we are really thinking: "So you're saying that the solution to my single-ness is to settle and that I shouldn't wait for someone who takes my breath away, makes me smile just when they say 'hello' and that someone that I just can't stop thinking about? Oh goodie."
Ok, we all know that being too picky is a bad thing. We get that. But do us a favor: don't tell us to wait for amazing on one hand and then tell us not to be picky on the other. We're already trying to walk the fine line between being realistically optimistic and regretfully settling.
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