Ask any single woman if she's waiting for a prince on a white horse to come and rescue her, and she'll laugh in your face.
But the truth is that millions of single women--and single men too--are indeed waiting for someone to sweep in and save them from their dreary, unsatisying life.
It's a fairy tale we've been fed since we were children. The brave rescuer is held up as an ideal, and on some level, we all look for an outsider to do what we think we can't do ourselves.
Most single people consider themselves independent and assertive, yet when it comes to taking action where we should, too often we fall back on fairy tale expectations. We think we're so "special" that it's just a matter of time until somebody discovers that and is thrilled to make our life perfect.
Where fairy tale and reality collide
Dr. Nathaniel Branden, in his landmark book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, says he knows a patient has turned the corner in therapy when he or she realizes, "No one is coming to rescue me. Nothing is going to happen in my life unless I do something."
The elaborateness of some weddings is proof that many single women still haven't given up on the myth of being rescued. The groom is arrayed in almost royal splendor, and the bride looks like a princess, attended by her maids-in-waiting. Everyone's decked out in clothes that would seem absurd anywhere except a ballroom.
Eventually the dream ends, however, in unpaid bills and dirty diapers. Reality can be a shock to your system.
Statistics show that millions of men and women will never marry. Is it because, to their dying day, they hold out hope that someone will rescue them, or is it because they never turned the corner to rescue themselves?
Overcoming the fear of rejection
Nobody enjoys being rejected. It can be a stinging, humiliating experience--if we let it. But somewhere along the way, a single person has to weigh that fear against the possible reward of being accepted.
Every time I think about rejection, I'm reminded of my cousin Tim, who asked 27 girls to his high school prom before one accepted. His desire to go to the prom was much stronger than his fear of rejection. Today Tim is very happily married and has two great children. He rescued himself.
You might argue that the 27 girls he asked had to wait to be "rescued" for the prom, but what prevented them from doing the asking? Fear of rejection.
The good things in life go to people who overcome their fear of rejection. Few authors get published on their first submission. Few people get the first job they apply for. Few people marry the first person they ask out on a date.
Cultivate an emotional callus
People who play stringed instruments develop calluses on the tips of their fingers, called caps. You can't play a stringed instrument for any length of time without them. At first, the fingers are very sore, but once formed, calluses act as protection, until there's no pain at all from pressing down on the metal strings.
Single people need to cultivate an emotional callus. Rejection hurts at first, but you soon discover it isn't fatal. In fact, the more determined you are, the sooner you're ready to try again. Each rejection hurts a little less, until after a while, they hardly hurt at all.
We give too much attention to our "sensitivity." It may simply be an excuse for not trying, as if it were a separate entity that's beyond our control. However, we'll never acquire the callus we need unless we're willing to endure some pain in the process. If we don't catastrophize when someone says "No", we're not so afraid of trying again.
Extend your comfort zone by degrees
Rescuing yourself is something you can do in stages. You can begin with small, inconsequential risks, learning that failure isn't fatal. You'll also discover that the pain is largely self-created. If you're determined not to let it bother you, it won't. We're always more concerned about what other people will think about us if we fail, so if you decide not to let their opinion upset you, you'll find yourself more courageous.
The more we demand the status quo and the absence of pain, the less we grow in life. Single people who get what they want without any adversity are extremely rare. Change, especially for the better, demands that you step outside of your comfort zone.
Once you understand that no rescuer is coming, you have two choices. You can do nothing, watching the calendar pages relentlessly turning every month, or you can try to rescue yourself--and keep trying until something good happens.
Which choice sounds wiser to you?
Jack Zavada's new ebook, Single & Sure, not only shows single people how to rescue themselves, but how to become a happier, more confident person in the process.