Jen Schefft was thrust into the national spotlight during the third season of ABC's hit reality show "The Bachelor" when, after a whirlwind courtship, she accepted the final rose and an engagement ring from Andrew Firestone. After leaving her friends and family in Chicago behind, she moved to San Francisco to be with the wealthy Firestone, but the high-profile couple called off the engagement after a few months.
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Reality TV star and author Jen Schefft.
3rd Annual Cadillac Super Bowl Grand Prix
No sales to daily newspapers except in the U.S. and U.K.NFL EOS1DMkII-220539 Superbowl Bowl Super 52120159EACE52120159EA036_3rd_Annual_CaJacksonvilleFLUnited States6324315840000000001PfalsefalseSchefft then starred in "The Bachelorette" but ended up turning down two marriage proposals on the show. In her new book, "Better Single Than Sorry" the happy single, who now works in public relations in Chicago, explains how no woman should settle for anything less than Mr. Right.
Here's an excerpt:
Being Single Is Not a Curse
One night not too long ago, I came home from a night on the town with friends and had a major revelation. I was sitting on my couch watching TiVo'd Project Runway episodes, eating a bowl of Cheerios, wearing mismatched pajamas, and sporting a constellation of zit cream of my face. I didn't have to call anyone. I wasn't expecting a late-night visitor. I looked around and I thought, "I'm all alone . . . and I love it!"
Being single is not a curse. All of the time, I hear women saying, "I need a boyfriend." It's the desperate woman's mantra. When you utter these words, you might as well be saying, "I'm really pathetic and nothing really matters in this world unless I have a boyfriend—a man in my life to save me from my wretched existence." Because really, not having a man is a fate worse than death, right? At least if you're dead you don't have to deal with everyone around you pairing off.
My life is filled with plenty of things that keep me happy and busy—yes, even without a man. I have a great apartment, a fun job that pays me enough so I can stock my closet with way too many pairs of jeans (hey . . . they are necessary), wonderful friends, and family. For me, it's the only time in my life I won't have to be accountable to anyone. I don't have to worry about checking in with someone (or worry about what that someone is doing when they're not with me). I'm not fighting with anyone over the remote—or anything else, for that matter—and I love that I don't have to watch action flicks when I'd rather be watching Pretty Woman for the millionth time. I also love that I don't have to keep up with shaving my legs or worry about what I look when I'm lounging around the house. If I gain a few pounds, I'm the only one who notices. Even better, if I spend too much money, I only have to justify it to myself. What do I really have to complain about? Nothing.
And I'm certainly not the only woman who feels this way.
Dawn, a 38-year-old self-employed designer, gushes about her solo life. "Being single has, in certain ways, enabled me to have a life—a very selfish life—I love. Of course I still have all of the desires that other women have—of wanting to be loved and in a relationship. But it's not like my life will begin once I meet a man. My life is already running exactly how I want it now, and I spend every day trying to make it more so. I have no issues with going to the movies alone or eating dinner by myself. I love having dinner parties. Being single forces you, in a sense, to build more of a network in the world. If you think about it in the right way and not as something tragic, you can become a much more interesting person."
Valerie, 32, is a divorced fashion executive who dates regularly, but tells me, "I am at my best when I'm single. It's when I'm in the wrong relationship—and there have been several—that I lose my edge and all that made me desirable in the first place." She is hopeful that she will find love again, but not to the point of desperation. "I just live every day," she says. "I can be alone and be happy. I don't dislike myself. If this is it for the rest of my life, it isn't so bad."
Seattle-based Annie, 28, is in awe of the advantages of being single. "It's like a free pass to get out of things!" she says. "You're not expected to show up for every dinner party, engagement party, or festivity because you're the ‘wild single friend' who has so many dates and crazy stories. I never have to go to church, pick up the kids, make dinner, or chip in on gifts for people I don't know. I have married friends who now do these things—and more."
Literary agent Liz, 27, has been married for two years and looks back at her bachelorettehood not as a dark period, but as a valuable experience. "I enjoyed being single, and now that I'm married, I think that the longing for a steady relationship and the curing out of bad dates is really an important rite of passage," she says. "It's easy for people to lose track of the fact that their lives are a span. It's easy to feel like the kid in the backseat of a car during a long road trip and think that this is the longest trip ever, when, of course, they've only been there for a couple hours. Don't miss out on the fun of being single by getting so obsessed about reaching another state."
Party of One
Now, I'm not going to lie and say it wouldn't be nice to have a boyfriend. I want to fall in love, get married—the whole fairy tale. And every once in a while, I panic, whine, and annoyingly ask my friends, "What if I never meet anyone? I know you say I will, but what if I don't?" (Hey, even the best of us have our moments.) But after I calm myself down, I remind myself that I do not need a man in my life to be happy. I've figured out how to take care of that on my own.
What's the secret? Being optimistic and reveling in your freedom. There's no reason to feel pathetic if you have a fulfilling life. A friend once told me that a man should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. I refuse to sacrifice all of the benefits of being single—that is, my happiness—for a guy who isn't worth it. I don't have a boyfriend for a good reason: Settling just isn't an option. I gain strength by knowing there are other women out there who agree with me.
Excerpted from “Better Single Than Sorry" by Jen Schefft. Copyright © 2006, Jen Schefft. All rights reserved. Published by HarperCollins. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.