(Photo: Mandy Hale)
Mandy Hale, who is affectionately known as "The Single Woman," chatted with The Christian Post on the eve of Valentine's Day about using singlehood as an advantage during the holiday traditionally celebrated in romantic ways by couples. Hale is one of several speakers featured at a Christian-based event for single women in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday hosted by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Hale suggests that singles having a hard time with the celebration of romance on this day can cherish other types of love in their life, including relationships with parents, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
For singles, the holiday should not be "this horrible day that you need to 'cope with' or 'survive,'" she writes in her interview with CP via email.
Hale has more than a half-million Twitter followers and thousands of readers look to her advice on her website, TheSingleWoman.net. She was recently featured at the Women of Faith conference in Hartford, Conn.
Organizers of LifeWay's "Galentines" say the event "takes a holiday that often excludes celebrating single women and infuses it with fun, music, comedy, and amazing Biblical encouragement for all the single ladies out there."
Hale also talks about her participation in the event in The Christian Post interview below.
CP: Many singles struggle at Valentine's Day (season) with being single during this holiday. What are your top three suggestions for coping?
Hale: Well, my first suggestion is to not view Valentine's Day as this horrible day that you need to "cope with" or "survive." I think that's something that tends to get lost in the mix of roses and sappy love songs and teddy bears. Valentine's Day is just another day! And not only that, it's a day to celebrate ALL the love in your life, and love comes in many forms other than just romantic love. Instead of hiding under the covers and swearing off Valentine's Day, how about taking the day to celebrate the people in your life that you love and that love you? Your parents, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors…how about just being "love in action" to them on Valentine's Day? Show everyone in your life a little extra love and appreciation. That's a huge benefit of being single…you have so much extra love to give away, and since this world is sorely lacking in love, this is a huge opportunity to put something really positive out there into the world. Second, even if it's just going out to a movie with a friend or staying in and having a Girls Night In, find something fun and positive and uplifting to do. Or join in the event I am hosting along with Mandisa that we've dubbed "Galentines"! We're holding a "Worldwide Girls Night Out" that we've invited single ladies to attend in person if they're in Nashville or online from anywhere in the world. It's going to be a night filled with fun and music and laughter and inspiration and straight talk about single life. You can go to GalentinesEvent.com to register. And third, remember to do something nice for yourself on Valentine's Day. Take advantage of the extra time and finances you have as a single person to spoil yourself a little. Go get a mani/pedi or a massage or a facial. Or if you're a guy, go do whatever it is that guys do to spoil themselves…LOL! As for me, I am treating myself to a fancy hotel in downtown Nashville after the Galentines event, one that I would never splurge on under ordinary circumstances. When you remember to love you and take care of you first, everything else tends to fall into place.
CP: What are your feelings about the highly pressurized feeling that comes over some people at Valentine's Day through commercialism and peer pressure to deliver the "goods" to your sweetheart?
Hale: I haven't had a boyfriend on Valentine's in a long time, but I can honestly say that the best present I could receive on Valentine's Day would just be someone's presence. That 30-lb box of candy from the store means nothing if there's not meaning and heart behind it. I think whatever you give to your significant other for Valentine's, make it something that has sentiment, whether that means spending $1 or $1,000. Show up for your girlfriend or boyfriend by making a handmade card or a home-cooked dinner. Don't get sucked into the vortex of stuffed gorillas in boxer shorts and flashing roses and life-size singing cards. All those things mean very little if they don't come from the heart. Just be yourself and express your love in a unique, authentic way and you can't go wrong.
CP: Why do you think so many people follow your blogs and social media as "The Single Woman?"
Hale: I think women connected with my message so strongly because they know I am one of them. I'm not a life coach or a guru or an expert. I'm just a single woman, down here in the trenches of single life, experiencing the crazy dating stories and broken hearts and crushes and first dates right along with them. I have always made sure to speak TO my readers and not AT them, and I think they get that. For so long, single life has been misrepresented in media and in pop culture as being this sad, miserable, lonely experience. There are so many negative connotations of single life out there. The snapshot we're seeing is of needy, catty women fighting and clawing at each other to win the heart of one guy who usually isn't that great to begin with, i.e. The Bachelor. Or of endless self-help books that offer to help you "find a man" or "keep a man." What about just being a great woman? I think single women were tired of being put in this box of either needy and desperate or catty and flawed. They found a voice in me, someone who was willing to stand up and say "Wait a minute! There's not something WRONG with me simply because I haven't met the person I'm meant to spend my life with. There's actually something really RIGHT with me in that I am willing to hold out for the best and refuse to settle out of panic or fear like so many people do." I like to think "The Single Woman" provides women all across the world with the opportunity to reclaim their identity a little and to focus on becoming a whole, complete person instead of searching endlessly for a "better half."
CP: What will you be talking about at Galentines?
Hale: I, along with Mandisa and Kelly Minter and a few other fierce, fabulous single women, will be celebrating the single woman's journey through music, teaching, a discussion panel, and more. We all really had a heart to provide single women who felt like they didn't really fit anywhere on Valentine's Day with a place to go. This isn't your typical "Singles Awareness Day" or "I Hate Valentine's" party, themes that seem to have gained popularity over the past few years, which basically frame single life as something to be ashamed of or something to mourn. This event is going to hopefully give women a chance to feel PROUD and CONFIDENT and HAPPY about their status! And not just that, but I think it will help women to stretch beyond their relationship status and realize there is so much more in life to celebrate and be happy about. I love the idea of "taking the day back," and saying: "Hey, couples! You're not the only ones with something to celebrate!"
CP: What is your number one advice to women about finding romance as a Christian woman?
Hale: I would just say that you have to stay true to you, and to your belief system. It can be so difficult to meet someone that when you finally do, if they don't share the same faith as you, it can be tempting to make allowances and compromises here and there until you look up one day and don't even recognize yourself or your faith anymore. First and foremost, you have to get your relationship with God on track, and I firmly believe that is one of the biggest gifts of single life – the opportunity to spend unlimited amounts of time in prayer and in the word. Then you have to make sure your relationship with yourself is healthy. If you don't love you, you're going to have a hard time to find anyone else to love you. And stay open to love! It's easy as a single person who has been single for awhile to start to build up walls and become unapproachable without realizing it. Consciously make an effort to let down the walls and open yourself up to meeting new people. Be receptive and friendly and engage in the world around you, whether you're at church or work or at the coffee shop or simply walking down the street. And finally…wish for love and pray for love and hope for love and stay open to love…but don't put your life on hold waiting for love. Give the desires of your heart to God and then trust that He will bring the perfect person into your life at the perfect time. That said, do your part, too, by getting out there! Volunteer or get involved in a church group or try out a new gym. Chances are Prince Charming (or Princess Charming) isn't going to just come knocking on your door…you have to get out there and live your life to the fullest and give yourself the opportunity to meet new people. The best advice I can give is just to live your life as Happily as you can, and let the Ever After part work itself out.
CP: Anything else you would like to add?
Hale: Anyone who's interested can find me online at TheSingleWoman.net or follow me on Twitter @TheSingleWoman. You can also purchase my e-book, The Single Woman's Sassy Survival Guide: Letting Go & Moving On. My first published book, The Single Woman: Life, Love, & a Dash of Sass will hit shelves on August 6th, so look for that. And Galentines is going to be a night to remember, so if you don't have plans for Valentine's Day, log on and join us for the first-ever "Worldwide Girls Night Out" at GalentinesEvent.com!