Sometimes I hear words that exactly describe my lived experiences.
I was in a zoom consultation meeting with art therapists when one mentioned that she is single and self-supporting.
I immediately connected with the term.
There is something different about running a business when you are single (by that I mean when you do not have any form of a partner) and self-supporting (meaning the only income you can rely on is what you generate yourself).
Individuals with partners often insist there isn’t a difference. They will make comments such as, “I’m running my business like I’m single and it’s my only income."
When you have a partner, there is another person whom you can rely on for support (whether that be emotional, financial, etc.).
There is a safety net - someone who has your back.
Someone who whispers to you in the hard times, “Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.”
Furthermore, if you’re not self-supporting, then everything isn’t reliant on you and the success of your business.
If you’re single and self-supporting and your business goes under, you lose how you pay rent. You lose your health insurance. There’s no unemployment. There’s no severance package. You only have what you may or may not have saved in the bank. You also emotionally carry the weight of that.
I am a self-supporter. My income is the only income I have to support my life.
I also have no form of a partner. That means it is all on me. I am the risk holder. I am the safety net.
And yes, I do always figure it out. But it is a different kind of weight than when I was in a partnership.
This is not a game of “who has it harder” - single, partnered, or those with generational wealth.
It’s simply wanting to be seen and understood.
And that’s just it. When you’re single and doing it on your own, you’re not guaranteed that.
There isn’t someone intimately there cheering me on at the end of each day. I must provide that for myself.
That can be a challenge, but it has also given me the opportunity to learn how to provide that to myself.
I've deepened my self-reaction and journaling processes. I've invested more time and energy into my friendships and growing my community.
There are also other benefits of being single and self-supporting.
I have flexibility in my daily and weekly schedule.
I don’t have to deal with anyone else’s input or opinions, unless I request them.
I do not have to financially support a family.
Though I do have to support myself and my business, and so I approach my business with a viewpoint of longevity.
I put extra systems and structures in place to protect me: I save for retirement, I purchase health insurance, I slowly pay off my student loans, I regularly go to the doctor for check-ups (if I’m sick, no one gets paid), I contribute to a short term and long term emergency fund (it's larger amount than when I was in a partnership), and more. I set my therapy fee at a rate to meet these needs.
When we can acknowledge the unique challenges of our life circumstances, we can make choices that provide for us and help us to rise to those challenges.