When I was younger I think I had a picture in my mind of what a single LDS woman over the age of 30 looked like. Like the comic strip Cathy. You know, unidentifiable bland career, prefers chocolate to men and shoe shopping to exercise, slightly fashion challenged, middle of the road cultural taste, fairly asexual Cathy. I pictured her having lots of “Girls Night IN!” weekends with her other single friends where they ate ice cream and cried over chick flicks while discussing pets and scrapbooking projects.
I’m not saying that was an accurate perception but that’s sort of what I imagined would have to be the case in order to actually BE a single LDS woman over the age of 30. Because if you were fun and interesting and sexy and cool and smart and fit then you certainly wouldn’t still be on the market. I imagined myself graduating, going on a mission, starting a career and getting married around 25 or 26. That would give me loads of time to have adventures of my own, develop a sense of self, and be ready to start thinking about babies or whatever. And oddly enough, even as I creeped past 25 and 26, in my mind, I was still way more 23 than 28 so again, I was in no danger of becoming Cathy.
So maybe you can imagine some of the mixed feelings I had on Friday night when I found myself attending the “Midsingles” Conference my church was having here in HB. I feel the need to stress that I would never have traveled to go to such a thing. 800 people did and bully for them, but a weekend of church sponsored fun aimed strictly at 27 to 40 year old single Mormons is not at the top of my list of how to burn frequent flyer miles. But my roommate was on the planning committee and some old friends were in town for the festivities so I sucked up my pride and went over. And OK yes, I had fun. They did a great job transforming the church into dance hall/coffee shop/tiki room/chill lounge single-pallooza. I ran into some out of towners I hadn’t seen in awhile, there were a bunch of OC kids I don’t hang out with enough that I got to talk to and maybe just maybe I managed to do some flirting with some cute Vegas boys. But all night I had a sort of vague feeling of uneasiness that while there were certainly loads of cool kids at this party-this is Cathy’s territory. And I’m having a tough time getting it into my head that this is in fact, MY demographic now.
The next day my friend Seth from Manhattan came to stay at our temporary hostel and he and I went to lunch. He is a boy who is willing to talk for hours about relationships without getting bored or lame so I took full advantage and we had a very interesting chat about being our age and single in this particular culture and some of the challenges (sex) and advantages. It was a good talk. We met up with friends on the beach and then a small group of us ditched the pre-assigned conference groups and went to dinner on our own. We went to the activity that night but it seemed like the excitement from the night before had worn off a little. So I went with another friend to see a band play and then we hit a party in Newport Beach I would normally have skipped. And when we got there I knew exactly why I usually hate those parties but why that night it was the perfect way to end the day. Too many people to move? Check. Really young, really scantily clad girls? Check. Guys my age flirting with them? Check. Cute Vegas Boys from the conference flirting with us? Check. Other 30 something females who don’t fit the Cathy mold rolling their eyes at each other over loud music but secretly really liking it? Check. Feeling like I’d rather just live my life and spend time with the people I enjoy and trust that God is smart enough to let Mr. Awesome and I find each other without having to be on edge about it all the time and without our Church leaders freaking out about it too? Double check.
I might have lived enough years to be Cathy but I really internalized something we talk about a lot at work when we are identifying our consumer. Age absolutely is a number. There are 22 year old women who have given up. There are 45 year old women who will wear you right out with what they are still discovering. I get to pick how “old” I’m going to be.
And that’s why I’m choosing not to ever call myself a “midsingle”.