• Ashton Rail

Singleness // Life

Updated: Mar 19

Last week I had a short conversation with one of my dear friends. After randomly talking about her college roommates boyfriend and my friends boyfriends/fiancés/husbands, the last thing she said was something like

“He’s on his way. You’ll meet him soon. He exists in this world”. We hung up and I just sat down and cried. I felt God nudge me, as He’s done before, and say “Don’t you trust me? Where is your faith”. The truth is; I halfheartedly trust God with this situation. I’ve learned that trust is a daily choice and for the past month I haven’t made the choice to fully trust. Since my birthday, in November, I have written and then deleted about four blog posts about being single. The first one was too bitter, the second focused too much on what I thought others would want to hear, the third was all about being single in the wedding industry.. and so on. After the conversation I finally thought “Enough is enough! Someone may need to hear this!”. So, here it is. A combination of all four blog posts in one.

25. For months I struggled with turning 25. Yes, I’m still young. Yes, I know I still have my “whole life ahead of me”. But 25 comes with years of unanswered prayers. It comes with grief of realizing that I haven’t accomplished what I thought I would by now. It comes with heaviness, understanding that another year has passed of disappointments. I don’t talk about it much but most of you know I’m single. I’m a single wedding photographer who spends about 80% of her time doing (or thinking of) something that has to do with Love (engagements, weddings, family..etc). If you check my Pinterest you’d see that it’s mostly all about weddings (besides all the vegan desserts). If you check my phone you can almost always find screenshots of floral arrangements, dresses, and cakes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my job more than anything. I love shooting weddings. I love photographing couples. But sometimes it’s overwhelming.

I’ve watched as 30+ people said “I do” to each other at the altar.

I’ve witnessed a love so deep that it brought me to tears.

I’ve heard stories upon stories of proposals and how people met each other.

I’ve listened to grooms tenderly describe just a few of the reasons why they love their bride.

I’ve cried with brides, laughed with brides, laughed at grooms, and even cried with grooms when they see their loved on for the first time on the wedding day.

I have left every wedding thankful that I was able to be a part of such an intimate day.

But sometimes, as I witness the bride and groom vowing to be together, I feel left out.

Here I am photographing the best event I could EVER photograph and yet I don’t know what it feels like to be on the other side of the camera.

I don’t know what it’s like to walk down the isle with those I love surrounded by me.

At times, this hurts.

While I truly believe this is one of the best jobs ever, the reality that I’m on the other side of the camera and going home alone to a cat hits me hard.

I have this job because I believe in love.

I believe in saying “I do” through tough times and sticking to it.

And being a part of such intimate moments is something that I will never take lightly.

I really do love: love.

When I was younger I just knew that by 21 I’d be married.

Then possibly by 25 I’d have a child. All I ever wanted to do was be a stay at home mom. I wanted to care for someone and be cared for. When 21 came I spent most of it fighting back tears. Then 22 came. Then 23, and so on. Now I’m at another milestone-25. And I’ve cried. I’ve questioned Gods timing. I’ve told myself that I’m undesirable. I’ve given up daydreaming. I’ve stopped watching and reading romantic stories. I’ve watched my friends get married, date, and then move on in life without me. I’ve tried to convince myself that I am better off alone. I’ve tried to plan trips by myself to places where I’ve always wanted to go to. I’ve tried too hard to be okay. We weren’t made to be alone. We were created for community, for relationships. That’s why being single hurts. You find yourself alone. No one that is “your person”. No one to tell exciting news to. No one to go on a date with. No one to buy you coffee or a meal. No one to randomly bring you a gift. No one that you can call at midnight when you can’t sleep. (Yes, friends and family can do this. But most of my friends and family have that person. And it’s different when multiple people are all of that, not one person.) It hurts. But, hear me out, I know it’s not all bad. I’ve learned lessons after lessons that I wouldn’t of been able to learn if my focus was on a relationship. I’ve discovered more about myself and how to be who I’m created to be.

Two years ago, at the beginning of 2017, I wrote in my journal that I wanted to learn how to love. Not just by words but by actions. I wanted to learn how to be to others what I so badly desire for others to be to me. 2017 came and went and I learned how to love myself more.

I leaned into accepting more of the love my mom could give me. Learning how to love myself lead me into learning how to love others in 2018. 2018 began with me telling God that I was done feeling hurt all the time. I focused on letting go of my disappointments. Saying auvior to focusing on what I didn’t have. I let go of my expectations of my life and decided to just roll with with happened. I dug deep into understanding what love my friends needed. I welcomed the midnight conversations, coffee dates, conversations over tea and chocolate, and hours I surrendered to love my friends. I cherished the feeling of loving others so much that my love tank was filled. I encouraged my friends and prayed over them. I shared in joy and grief. But then a few things changed. Those friends started dating. And I found myself less and less understanding how to love someone when I felt so left out of what they get to experience. I find myself not knowing how to love others who have what I’ve wanted for years. I find myself struggling with jealously. I find myself spending too many nights eating popcorn and beef jerky because I don’t feel like cooking for just one. I eat to try and satisfy what feels like a hole in me. I stopped baking because, well, I’ll eat all the cookies or a whole cake. Everything around me seems to remind me that I am, in fact, single. I’ve let it become who I am; my identity. I’ve let it have more control over my life than it should. (By the way, I’m lucky. I freakin LOVE my friends boyfriends/husbands/ fiancés. I’m friends with almost all of them. I could, and sometimes do, carry on conversations with just them. They’re all welcoming, making sure to include me in conversations and inviting me to parties. They never make me feel like I’m on the outside.)

Even though I find love and yes, even have joy, in getting to join in on my friends dates, there’s still a small pang knowing that I don’t have what they have. Also, my friends NEVER make me feel like a third wheel, they’re seriously amazing. A few weeks ago, after a particularly rough day, I was talking to my cat and telling her how unfair it was that I was single (I was also on my 6th cookie of that night and had no intention of stopping from eating all dozen cookies). I started making a list of what I am looking for in my future spouse. See; I’m picky. I’ve been told I’m too picky. I have spent my whole life daydreaming about my future spouse (also, I’m a 4 on the enneagram if that helps anyone understand just how much I daydream). And this, in the past, lead to unhealthy relationships and me grasping for a real life fairy-tale. After a huge crash and burn, I finally understood that fairy tales don’t happen. But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t going to set my expectations high. Also, I don’t date. Besides the fact that I rarely, if ever, have a guy show interest in me and ask me out, I don’t want to recreational date. It’s not me. It pains me. I also strongly dislike dating apps. Because of this, I have been on a total of 5 dates in the past 5 years. I am tired of people telling me to lower my standards. I’m not asking for Ryan Gosling (but hey Ryan. If you’re reading this.. I am single). I’m not asking for a prince. What I’m asking for is a Godly man who loves Jesus more than anything. For a man who is courageous. Who has a steady job (since I don’t). Who enjoys plays and musicals (or at least is open to them). Who enjoys cooking. And who loves to travel. I ache for this. I dream about this man. And unknowingly, I sometimes put my life on hold for him. I realized this year that I have put off so many things because I so badly want to do them with a guy. I don’t travel as much as I want to. I still haven’t been to a restaurant that I’ve wanted to go to for 3 years. But doing those things alone, to me, is my nightmare. Doing them alone would be proving to myself that I really am pathetic and alone. Well, that’s my initial thought. Lately though, I’ve heard God whisper “You are capable”. As in: Why wait for your life to start when you are capable of doing all those things you’ve dreamed of doing by yourself? You know what? I honestly hate it. I hate that I am capable of going on a vacation by myself. I hate that I could go try the restaurant I’ve been wanting to try. I hate it because it’s not what I want. At all. I hate it because of how I know I’d be thinking the entire time of how awesome it would be if I were there with a man. Or, worse, I’d spend the entire time daydreaming about meeting a man;how he’d say hi, how he’d look, how we’d be able to look back years later and laugh about the fact that I was doing something hard and feeling so lonely and he just came in and swept me off my feet. But that won’t happen. It hasn’t happened yet. All it does is leave me wounded for days, sulking. It leaves me questioning God’s timing and goodness. But when God speaks to you.. You listen. And I’m trying. I’m trying to hear that “you’re capable” and figure out what it means, while knowing that I’m a dreamer. I’m trying to be stronger. I’m trying to stop identifying myself as “single” and “lonely” and start reminding myself that I am more. I’m watching as tickets to Paris prices go up and down.. trying to gain the courage to possibly hit “buy”. I’m staring at my nice clothes, the ones that would be perfect for dates at nice restaurants, and deciding to wear them for fun. I’m surrendering, everyday, every hour, and every minute all of my hopes and fears of being single to God. At least, I’m trying to. I’m starting to tell God more about how I feel, instead of telling others first. I’m becoming more and more of who I’ve always wanted to be: free. I’m appreciating the fact that I only have to care for my cat and me. I can spend time focusing on my relationship with Jesus. And I’ve learned my worth. Single ladies, I hear you. I see you. I know it’s a struggle. You’ve just read a bit how I struggle. But let me share even a bit more.

I’ve been to bars. I’ve worn more scandalous outfits thinking they made me more attractive. I’ve focused too much on how I look: trying to hard to loose weight. I’ve struggled with wanting to watch movies I shouldn’t. I’ve lusted. I’ve sinned. But I have a God who loves me deeply and doesn’t hold that over me. And more than that He keeps teaching me more about my worth and identify. I am not a partier (don’t get me wrong, I love to have fun. But I don’t want to go get drunk). I do not want to meet my future husband at a bar. It’s not who I am. I’d much rather spend my time at tea cafes and bookstores. I’d rather where vintage clothes than low cut tops. I’d rather be comfortable in my own skin than focused on every blemish. I’d rather go see plays or watch musicals than any romance movie. Yet somehow it’s taken me too long to be okay with all of that. Every little part of what I mentioned is so different from this world. But I know my worth. I know I’m worth more than second best, than mediocre. I know I’m worth more than drunk nights out. I know I’m worth more than dressing scandalously just to attract any attention. And you are too. Stop listening to everyone else who says different. Stop scrolling through social media saying “if only I... than I wouldn’t be single” If only what? If only you were skinnier? If only you let loose more? If only you had the best makeup? The best clothes? Stop drowning in the mindset that the only place to meet a guy is at a bar. And that you both have to be tipsy/drunk to even talk. Is he really who you’d want to date? A man who can’t talk to you unless he has alcohol in him? (P.s. Yes, I go to bars. But there’s a difference between going to bars wanting to drink too much.) Stop thinking you have to give everything to a guy and have sex with him just for him to like you. Is that who you want to be with? Stop telling yourself you’re not worth more. Because you are. I promise, you are. And it’s not just me that thinks so. But your ABBA (God) thinks so too. He calls you darling. Beloved. Cherished. Loved. Beautiful. Worthy. He says He delights over you. He hears your every cry. He knows the ache in your heart. He listens to you as you pour your heart out. He knows. And I know that sometimes it feels like He doesn’t. I know that years and years of unanswered prayers can make it feel as though God has forgotten you. But do you know God’s timing? Do you allow God to work in the waiting? (If you struggle with feeling as though God doesn’t hear your prayers since nothing has happened yet.. please go read about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2.) God promises us that what we truly desire, if they align up with His plan for us, it will be given to us. I’ve dealt with this over and over again. Tossing it around in my head and my heart. Trying to figure out if all my dreams of getting married are wrong. But I know they’re not. I know it’s a good desire. And I know that some day it’ll happen. For now I’ll keep waiting. I’ll keep learning more about myself and about God. And all I have left to say is this: What do you want more? Jesus or a relationship? Be honest. And go from there.

This post isn't just for those who are single. We all have our own struggles and unanswered prayers.

I'd love to hear from you about what you're struggling with. I would seriously love to sit face to face, listen, and pray for you.

Feel free to message me <3

These photos were taken by the trustworthy and lovely Hayley Mitchell https://www.instagram.com/hayleymitchellphotography/ and edited by me.

(Thank you Hayley for helping me with this and loving me in so many ways.)

The hair piece was created by the gorgeous and loving Diana from https://samanthasgarden.florist/

(Thank you, Diana for teaching me how to love others deeply and without jealousy. And for teaching me to stay true to who I am in my bussiness.)

Hair and makeup by the kind and talented Craig Lewis https://www.instagram.com/clstuard/

(Thank you, Craig for giving up your free day to talk to me and play dress up. And for always having fun ideas for photoshoots.)

<3 Ashton

#personal #2019

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