Freelance journalist Eleanore Robinson explains why being single in your 40s is the greatest liberty of all
Imagine telling your 20-year-old self that one day you would have a large, disposable income, live in a home of your own, do a job you love and have a decent amount of spare time to enjoy yourself.
This can be the reality of being single in your forties if you are prepared to make the most of it.
Forget that specially constructed circle of hell, comprising online dating, ready meals for one and the pity of your coupled-up friends.
Read more: The truth about being single in your 40s
This isn’t a problem to be endured until Mr, Miss or even Mrs Right turns up (if you want them to).
It is a golden opportunity to make the most of the huge chunk of freedom that has been thrust upon you.
To quote author and 40-something singleton, Glynnis MacNicol, “Fuck off. I am done feeling bad. I can do whatever I want.”
For me, a 41-year-old singleton, it was deciding to quit my job that led to the revelation that I am in a position to do literally whatever I want; whether that means flying off on a last-minute trip, or the sheer pleasure of watching bad TV.
Since I left my full-time role as an editor to work for myself, I have had the best nine months I can remember.
One of the highlights came from taking myself off to the south west of France for four weeks, to stay in a relatively remote gite with a stunning view of the Pyrenees.
This wasn’t a holiday, however. It was to write a book about how to travel around the world by yourself as a woman.
And isolating myself in the French countryside, with only the neighbours’ kittens, six chickens and some very nice wine (for inspiration of course), created the optimum conditions to make headway on the book I started writing only nine years ago.
Because I can
While this was my version of living the rural French dream, you don’t need to do anything as drastic as leaving your job to make the most of single life.
When my bewildered friends and family asked why I was doing this, the best reason I could give was “because I can”.
This is now my mantra.
Read more: An action-packed escape to Australia
Last year, when I was still fully employed by someone else, I rejected several well-meant invitations from friends with children to spend New Year’s Eve in their homes (as they can no longer go out).
Instead, I flew to Australia and spent an incredible night on a Sydney rooftop enjoying far too much champagne, laughing and joking with a group of people I barely knew but ended up having lots in common with.
Situated across the port from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House has striking architecture and impressive views.
I have a vague memory of the witnessing the spectacle that is the fireworks on the Harbour Bridge. I would say that is one thing ticked off my bucket list but I will be back – New Year’s Eve in the heat is unquestionably the way forward.
Being able to make a trip like this without having to consult the other half, or fitting in with their employer’s holiday rota, is truly liberating.
But the best thing about that trip (apart from the amazing beaches, great food and truly delicious wine) was meeting new people and having new experiences.
Obviously, you don’t need to go to the other side of the world to do this. Earlier this year I did a ten-week course on oil painting, something I find more relaxing and interesting than any mindfulness class.
And at the same time I aimed to become the next Picasso, I met some really good people from all walks of life who I have probably brushed past in the supermarket many times, never paying them much attention.
A friend of mine has gone one step further by doing something she has never done before each month this year.
Well that was why she told me we were going kayaking on the Thames, ending up soaking wet and covered in pond weed but with huge grins on our faces.
Having the freedom to try new experiences truly is a gift, as is reconnecting with pleasures you enjoyed in the past but did not have the time or funds to do as much as you like.
One of the first things I did after packing in the office was make the trip to Manchester to pay a long overdue visit to see my football team play mid-week – something I could not do and be back at my desk for 9am the next day.
After five years of abstinence, I would love to report that it was a joyous reunion but instead it was 90 minutes of humiliation and frustration. But at least I had the chance to be there.
And I’m continuing to make the most of the opportunities single life presents.
This week I hosted a Uruguayan student in my home. Next week I’m going to start the ballet lessons I never got to have as a child. Why?
Because I have the freedom to do exactly what I want.
I am basically rinsing being single and getting everything out of it I can.
They say life begins at 40. I consider it to be life’s half-time whistle.
Hopefully after this team talk, you feel ready to get out on the pitch and have one hell of a second half.
Are you ready for adventure? Try these out for size
Kayak the caves of Halong Bay
Spend the night aboard a traditional junk boat on Halong Bay, and sail amid the ancient limestone karsts of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kayak between hidden caves, try sunrise yoga and feast on delicious local cuisine.
Climb Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Lean in for the challenge of a lifetime, as you climb to the summit of Rainbow Mountain in Peru, with an overnight camp at altitude beneath the stars. Those prism colours are worth every step… plus, Inca biking, Amazon boating and Pisco Sours in Lima.
Learn to surf in South Africa
Learn to glide across churning waves and channel your inner surf dude on South Africa’s Garden Route, with seal swimming, abseiling and a safari drive or two thrown into the mix.
Images: Shutterstock, Flash Pack, Eleanore Robinson, Anton Sulsky on Unsplash