On March 27, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper enacted a 30-day statewide stay-at-home order for all non-essential workers in an effort to reduce COVID-19 cases. For many people, this was a challenging period of figuring out how to find space in a crowded household of online learning and company Zoom calls, but single women faced a different challenge. Where do we fit into the pandemic narrative?
Stephanie’s Take: The Silver Linings
As someone who is in my mid-40’s and has never been married, I am often the envy of many of my friends. From their perspectives, my time is my own, and I can do whatever I want, whenever I choose. In many regards, they are not wrong, but I also don’t have an immediate support system under my roof. Never was this more apparent than when COVID-19 hit.
With recommendations to stay six feet away from anyone you don’t live with, and most of the world trying to figure out how to facilitate virtual learning for kids while working from home, those of us who were single suddenly found ourselves in an eerily quiet house. That being said, we certainly were at an advantage in terms of not having to share bandwidth with virtual learners or partners working from home. Personally, I was able to find silver linings in the change of pace that happened seemingly overnight. I was getting more sleep, reading more, actually using my oven, tackling projects around the house that had previously been neglected, and simply finding time to reflect.
I consider myself fortunate to have a strong support system in terms of both family and friends. I had regularly scheduled video calls with a couple of different groups of friends, and, as restrictions loosened, I formed a bubble with a few of my closest single friends - nothing can really replace face-to-face contact. After all, we’re human. We need that face time for a healthy mental well-being.
Emily’s Take: The Importance of Staying Connected
When the stay-at-home order lifted, it was time to start thinking about how I could see people in person and build a small, safe bubble without adding risk to my friends and family. Most people easily defined their bubble to include partners and children, but how do you create a safety bubble without those defining characteristics?
Luckily, it wasn’t too hard for me to connect with similarly cautious friends and keep a small circle where we could meet in-person and chat with safety precautions in place. Meanwhile, video calls with family and friends across the country helped me stay in touch and feel more connected to my closest circle than even before COVID-19 when the hustle and bustle kept me busy at all hours. Having more time to myself helped lead me to personal insights and self-improvement on a major scale, without any other opinions standing in my way, something that would not have happened so consistently otherwise.
As single women during the pandemic, we dealt with the same feelings of stress and frustration as other women; however, in our case, we did not have the in-person support system like a spouse or children. We relied on personal friendships through video and phone calls to help fill the void of limited to no human interactions for months. But while we endured those periods of solitude, we were able to find the silver lining and carve out “me time.” While single women carried their own pandemic related burdens, we were also able to reflect on our personal goals on a deeper level and discover new things about ourselves that may not have happened otherwise.