Kym Terribile returns to the Solo Studio to talk to Peter McGraw about the writing process for his forthcoming book, Solo-Breaking the Rules in a World Built for Two.
Listen to Episode #177 here
Writing Solo: Breaking The Rules In A World Built For Two
Kym, are you going to talk about how you abandoned me?
During the buck?
Do you want to talk about that? I did put it. I ghosted you. It was the universe showing you that you had to do it on your own. I can’t walk through the fire for you.
I had someone else who dropped the ball on me. It was probably my worst moment. I lost my crap, and I was like, “You’re born into this world alone. You go out alone.”
You write books.
If you need something done, you only have one person to count on.
That’s interesting. Do you want to talk about that?
We just did.
Welcome back, Kym.
Peter, thanks for having me again.
You’ve appeared in many episodes. The last appearance was on an episode where we discussed the book deal that I got for Solo and the plan to write the book in 90 days and revise it based on my editor’s edits in the subsequent 45 days. It’s now in production due January 2024. We thought it would be fun to revisit and talk about the process. Are you ready?
I am so ready. For anyone joining us who missed the other episode, can you tell us what the book is about?
The book is about helping facilitate a transformation from single to solo. Fundamentally, it’s about that and then this cascading effect on relationships and life more generally.
Is there a lot of your personal life in there and your personal stories?
There is. It’s interesting. I was a little reticent to put it in there, but every time I did, I was encouraged to do more of it by the people who were reading. I opened the book with the story of me throwing myself a bachelor party at age 34 as a new professor moving to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to Boulder and starting my job at CU. Some of it is you have to tell the story of how you got here. That matters. I tell my story about my transition from single to solo and how that started when I was a thirteen-year–old and probably finished as much as it can ever finish. It’s a work in progress as a 53-year-old in a 40-year process.
I’m excited to read all your little personal stories that are peppered there. Is there anything about your personal life that you were nervous or apprehensive about sharing?
I mentioned in the book that I’ve had a vasectomy. That’s come up on the show before, so it didn’t feel like as big a revelation. I‘m years into it. It’s normalized. I put it in my dating apps, “I have a vasectomy.”
Does anyone comment on that?
It gets not a lot because people don’t read bios on dating apps. I have a 10 to 1 positive to negative response to that. Occasionally, a woman will comment on why I am mentioning that, and I get the sense that it’s for her a little bit disappointing or threatening because she wants to have kids.
That filters out a lot of people for you.
A lot of things about me filter a lot of people. I put it in there for that reason because it’s a polarizing thing. Some women are like, “That’s great.” There are women who can’t be on birth control or don’t want to be on birth control because of all the hormonal elements and so on. I once had a partner who said to me when I revealed that I had a vasectomy, “That is the sexiest thing a man has ever told me.“
That’s so funny.
I didn’t go into a lot of detail about how I’m a New Way single in part because some of those parameters are evolving for me. I was very clear about how I don’t want to have kids, how I don’t ever want to live with anyone, and how that has major implications for why I was what I call a Single by Mismatch. I didn’t even realize there was this category of Singles by Mismatch. That is people who are interested in romance and/or sex but can’t seem to make a relationship work because they don’t want the full escalator experience. I felt this way until recently.
What happens is you’re out there in the world. Most people want to ride the relationship escalator, or at least they also default to, “That’s what you’re supposed to want.” For example, merging is such a big part of that. Most people expect that eventually, they will live with their partner. At this point, I’m like, “I will not do that.” If you’re reluctant to do that, you have all this friction in relationships with someone you like. You’re attracted to them. You get along, but you now want two different things.
They’re the winners. You’re the losers in that sense because they want what’s dominant. What you end up thinking is, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I make this work? Why am I so selfish? Why am I such a Peter Pan? Why don’t I want this thing that everyone else wants?” You feel like you’re on an island. Realizing that there was something wrong with me, but there was something wrong with the escalator was empowering. It started this process where I started to realize, “There are other people like me. Those people are in the solo community. They’re my guests on the show. I‘ve been listening to their podcasts and reading their books and so on.” That has been important for me.
In terms of the other ways that I’m relaxing or rejecting the rules of the escalator, some of it is still in process. Frankly, some of it is contextual. It depends on who I’m with. I have a whole chapter on relationship design. There’s an episode that will have launched before this one where you get to create the relationship rather than pick from a menu.
Now that I’m in that world, it’s difficult to say, “I‘m an ex.” There are people who say, “I‘m solo poly. I‘m looking for friends with benefits. I‘m a solo monogamous. I want to swing,” or whatever the particular iteration is. I don’t feel like I fit any of those categories because I could want to be friends with benefits with one person and then explore polyamory with another person. It’s up in the air at this point.
It depends on who you’re encountering and what they want and finding what’s comfortable for both of you in that situation.
In the Relationship Design episode, Jessalyn Dean, who was my guest has this great metaphor about how you’re seated at a huge table with a potential partner, relationship partner, friend, family member, or whatever it is. Laid out on the table are all these tapas. You’re designing your meal. You’re deciding on your meal. You have to choose which tapas you don’t want and which ones you do want. You share the ones you want. When there’s someone else across from you at the table, you’re going to have a different meal. That’s a very exciting idea rather than being in search of this one style of relationship, whether it be a traditional relationship escalator, and there’s nothing wrong with that, or something more New Way style.
Not having an end goal gives you a lot of freedom in the design process of that relationship.
A big theme that emerged when I was writing the book was about a focus on process rather than outcome and how much better life can be when you are process–focused. I have a whole section about the downside of goals. One of those is that to set a goal is to make an agreement with yourself that you’re in deficit until that goal is achieved. When you say, “I want this style of relationship,” now you’re waiting for that to happen too often feeling less than and like you’re living in a liminal space. A focus on process doesn’t have to be relationships. It could be anything. It could be writing a book, for example.
Let’s circle back to this idea with a couple of questions.
It‘s why so many people hate dating because they have a goal, and they’re being thwarted all the time by people who don’t want the same type of relationship, who are ghosting them, who are flaking on them, and who are doing all these things rather than taking an approach where they’re like, “I‘m going to make dating interesting and fun. We will see what gets discovered, but I’m not going to be waiting for this future outcome which may or may not happen.” You need the cooperation of someone else or others depending on what your orientation and interests are.
That’s such a great perspective. I’m going to have to incorporate that a little bit more into my dating practices.
It‘s hard because goals work. This outcome, this shining light, this oasis, whatever the thing is, or this shiny bubble is compelling and motivating. You have to have a very different set of motivations and focus to be process–oriented.
For me, what’s coming up is more focused on the emotion behind it rather than the outcome of it. That’s a good takeaway. Thank you. You’ve gotten some pushback. We talked about on another episode a while back how there was a little bit of pushback from some potential agents in the beginning who weren’t in alignment with where you wanted to go with the project. I’m wondering. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of critiques. A lot of people are going to have an opinion about something that’s a little hot-button. What critiques are you expecting? How are you going to navigate those?
There are two styles of critique, one I will welcome and one which will sadden me. The one that will make me sad is, “This book is not very good. It’s not well–written. It’s not interesting. It’s missed all this other important stuff.” As a result, it’s not going to be helpful to the people I want to help. That’s a matter of execution. I did not do a good job.
Do you think that critique would come from the people you’re trying to help?
That’s where it would be disappointing if members of the solo community read it, and they’re like, “I was expecting better.” They know what I’m capable of because they have listened to me speak for hours on end about this. I‘m frankly a better speaker than I am a writer. Where we are now is where I’m most at home in the Solo Studio talking to someone I love about a topic that I care about.
My editor wouldn’t let me put this in the book. The book is a little undercooked because it happens so fast and so on. That would be a pretty devastating critique if the people who most wanted it find it underwhelming. The critique that I will welcome is the critique from the people who hate the ideas in the book and who find it transgressive and threatening. To be honest, that’s a little bit about what those original lit agents thought. What they wanted me to do was to write a book, “You’re okay. I‘m okay. Everything is okay.“
Sunshine and rainbows.
This book is not a pessimistic book. It’s not a book that complains very much. A lot of books about being single complain a lot. This is a book about opportunities, growth, and creation. In that way, I believe it’s an optimistic book, but the problem is not everybody is optimistic about some of these ideas. For example, some people are going to critique it for being too individualistic. My feeling about that is being solo is not about being alone although it can accommodate that, but it is about embracing your autonomy because that’s a fact of life. You are in some ways completely on your own no matter how enmeshed you are in other people’s lives. To recognize that is powerful. People find that they don’t like that. People won’t like me because they won’t like that.
How could anyone not like you?
Our friend Julie warns people, “My friend Peter is going to be at the party. He’s not for everyone.” Some people are not going to resonate with my tone, the way I talk, who I am, and so on. That’s fine as long as other people do. As long as the critique creates polarization, I’m happy. People are not going to like the message that it’s okay to be single, forego marriage, do these naughty things in your life, not live with your partner, not be monogamous, and not elevate your romantic partnership to the most important adult relationship in your life. That will be very threatening to some people because they want the world to do that, or they’re doing it themselves and they believe that’s the right way to do it.
My hope with regard to these polarizing critiques is that I will say, “I disagree with you, but I’m glad you’re writing this critique.” I want a critique that someone else reads and goes, “I need to read this book.” That’s free advertising for people who need an alternative message because the book is not written for someone super conventional. How will I deal with it? I‘ve gotten a lot better about not reading my reviews. The best thing I could probably do is not pay any attention to it all, and if I do, then absorb it and let it pass through me without responding or dealing with it.
I like that. Everyone is going to love the book though.
It’s not true. That’s impossible. What I want is a bunch of 1–star reviews and 5–star reviews. What would be disappointing is a bunch of three–star reviews.
Love it or hate it people. I love that. Let’s talk about the process a little bit. You’re through the 90 days and the 45 days. It’s in production. It’s done.
There’s a tiny bit of work to still be done. I still need to do the bibliography, which I don’t want to do because it’s big. It’s a grind. I turned the acknowledgments in. I still have some figures that I am honing and putting in. I have one last look at it when I get a chance to do a little bit of punching up and a little bit of changes. There’s nothing big and structural but word choice and adding a little tag here and there. The creation part of it is not completely finished, but the heavy lift is behind me.
It’s done. How do you feel like it went? Let’s talk about the challenges or unanticipated challenges of the writing process.
It was bizarre. Honestly, I felt like I went into a hole or a cave for those 135 days. I worked on it every single day sometimes all day. It was a mixed experience. At times, it was joyous, fun, and flow–worthy. Other times, it was a ton of uncertainty and a lot of grind-it-out work. I choked for the first time in my life. I realized I might be on the spectrum. I felt that way.
I’m a little too good at working. I‘m lucky it agrees with me, especially when I’m doing creative work, but my ability to focus for long periods, especially on this project, was even astounding to me. It was isolating at times. I was alone most of the time. I worked a lot in my apartment. I would do my coffee shops in the morning. A past guest, Paul Shirley, has this co-working space called The Process. I used that a lot toward the end. I needed the self-control because I was running out of steam. They have guided sessions that were important.
I was up early working on it. I would take a break, work out, and work on it. Maybe I would hit the sports recovery place, work on it, and go to bed. My sleep got all screwed up. I was waking up earlier. I was up in the middle of the night a lot, ruminating and having a hard time switching off. It was fitful. There were times when I was cruising. There were times, especially early in the book when I was still learning a lot in the first two chapters.
The first chapter is called Human Domestication. The second chapter is A World Built for Two. Those were the hardest chapters because I had to learn the most. Later chapters were much easier and breezier to do. There were edits that came along. I gave my editor half the book earlier than the 90 days so she could work on it. I had an overlapping process. She cut 1 out of every 3 words from the book. Cognitively, I know it was the right thing to do, but emotionally, it was very difficult to have that happen.
She killed her darlings.
There were a lot of darlings. 1 out of 3 darlings got murdered. I joke that if I had known which they were, I would not have bothered to write them. The book got restructured 90 days in. It wasn’t just producing words and doing line edits. There was a major restructuring that happened along the way. When you’re doing that, it feels like you’re paused.
Were you still teaching during this time?
Much of my teaching was still happening during the first 90 days. 75 of the 90 days, I was still in full professor mode. I lost every Wednesday of the week because I would teach all day in that.
You’ve said multiple times that your students and teaching are your priority.
I had one of my best teaching semesters. I credit my students for being wonderful. I credit myself for having revamped the course a year earlier. It wasn’t a heavy lift in terms of producing new content and stuff. I could lean in.
What did you learn about yourself as a writer and a creative? You’re a very habitual person. What habits did you lean on the most or helped support you during this process?
I tend to be a perfectionist. I tend to obsess. There’s a saying, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” The great thing about this deadline was it forced that. If I hadn’t sold this book and if I didn’t have this deadline, I could have easily spent two more years on it. The message is too important to wait two years.
AI is going to write it in our year anyway.
It’s true. I did use ChatGPT and Bard to help speed up the process. There’s zero chance I would hit the deadline with a book this good without the help of AI and cannabis because the AI stuff helped a lot with research and sped things along. I used it to check my writing and even use it to make suggestions about how to restructure things. Occasionally, I used it when I had a bunch of gobbledygook. I would drop it into ChatGPT and say, “How would you make sense of this? If you were going to turn this into an outline, what would you do?” It was an accelerator in a way. That was fantastic.
The cannabis helped me in part because it creates this mild euphoria for me. It makes any task a little more pleasant and helps me focus. It doesn’t for a lot of people, but I could hone in sometimes for hours at a time in a way that I don’t think I can or rarely could, especially at night when I’m low–energy. That was a surprising performance enhancer for me, especially late in the day. I could do a third belt of work between 6:00 and 9:00 and 6:00 and 10:00, which is normally not my best production time. It might be a creative time. It might be good learning time, but it’s not always a good production time for me.
Everyone, get yourself ChatGPT and cannabis.
I don’t know if it would work for other people.
You took a couple of little getaways and writing retreats. Where did you go? How was the change in the environment?
I called it my halftime. In March, during spring break, I went to Mexico City and ended up staying for two weeks. I went on a one-way ticket. The idea was I’ll go on a one-way ticket, and if I can’t be productive, I’ll come home. I was not as productive as I would have been back in Denver, but I was about 75% because I was exploring the city and having fun. Mexico City is having a moment, and I understand why. I loved it. I did not want to come home, but my students were calling.
Students were calling. The book needed to be written.
That was good. I needed that because it was turning into Groundhog Day for me. Toward the end, I did a mushroom trip. I went up to Grand Lake and had an incredible experience. That was 2 nights and 1 day. I needed that in part to reinforce my comfort with what I was saying and how I was saying it, knowing that this is a book that will make some people, if I’ve done a good job, happy and some people unhappy, and to solidify my comfort and clarity around that endeavor.
That sounds amazing. It was a much-needed little getaway from the apartment. Can we talk about your support system? I feel guilty. I completely ghosted you during your hour of need.
Apology accepted. I would have liked to have you involved because I know how much you care and how good you are at giving feedback, edits, and so on. You‘re building your business, and you have your life. It’s a lot to ask for someone to do that. I was very fortunate. When I wrote my second book, I had a friend say to me after he read the acknowledgments, “I had no idea you had this many people in your life, let alone that much help.” This set of acknowledgments was similar in that way.
Liz Gassman, the editor, did the heavy lifting on the editing in a way that my previous books did not have. I had another editor who helped me and saved Liz a lot of headaches, Kimberly Kessler, who also helped me with my second book. She was incredibly important to this. I had two friendly readers, Suzette Smith and Mary Dahm, who are also excellent writers. They were kind enough to give me feedback and occasionally some edits along the way. That was incredibly helpful because a surprising number of times, they both honed in on something. I had a negative reaction. That became easy for me to change or fix.
I‘ll give you an example of this. This happened with those original lit agents that we talked about. I had this line about how if you’re single, I suspect you’ve had this experience where a friend of yours meet someone and then disappears on you only to come back later after that relationship hasn’t worked out and act as if nothing happened. One of those late agents had a problem with that. Both Suzette and Mary had a problem with that. What they anticipated is that people wouldn’t interpret it as them as the single person. They would interpret it as them as the person who disappears and have a negative reaction, “I‘ve never done that. I wouldn’t do that.”
It’s an interesting projection because I’m saying you’re the recipient of that bad behavior. You’re not the person behaving badly. It’s not even that they’re behaving badly. They’re behaving according to this script, which suggests that this new person is going to be propelled as the most important person in their life. They get on that escalator too fast and push that person up. I changed the message and wrote, “If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, ‘I would never do that,‘ congratulations. You’re already on the path to being solo.“
It’s a little clearer.
It’s not as threatening. It’s more inclusive, but I needed other people to point out to me, “That’s not working.” A couple of members who have been on the show, Laura Grant and Jessalyn Dean, helped me with specific chapters, honing ideas that were a little bit outside my expertise. I‘m still waiting on these. A couple of comedians, Shane Mauss and Jen O’Donnell, are going to give me some punch–ups and places where maybe it’s too serious. They might add a tag or something like that. The book is already pretty funny. The bar is so low for humor in singles books. It qualifies as funny, but it’s not a hilarious book. It’s not a comedic book but anywhere that it could be a little more playful would be welcome to the reader who likes me.
I’m sure sometimes the topics can get a little bit heavy in there. It will be fun to have a little comedy. Here’s the last question about the process. Would you ever do this again in this timeline?
I wouldn’t. I don’t regret doing it. It’s nice to know that I could. I don’t like working like this. In the book, I talk about Kristin Newman who was an early guest. She wrote a wonderful book. It’s probably the funniest book about single living called What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. Kristin is a Hollywood writer–producer. They live on a different schedule, which is, “Work yourself to the bone and then take a big vacation.” I don’t like working like that. I like to have a vacation every day and work every single day, but it’s good to know that I could do it if I want to because I wasn’t sure I would be successful. I said to my editor, “I‘ll do my best.“
I knew you were going to do it. I didn’t doubt you for a second. Honestly, I knew you were going to do this.
I do appreciate that. I‘ll consider it as a model if I ever do something else like this again, or maybe that’s the best way to do it, but I need some time. If you ask new parents who are a month in, “Do you want another kid?” they’re like, “No.” A few years later or sometime later, they’re like, “That wasn’t so bad. I need a little distance.”
Let it settle. Do you think you will write another book in the future?
I’ve given up goals. I have an idea for another book I’ve talked about on the show about aging, retiring, and dying single. That’s an important book to write. This book doesn’t cover that very much.
That’s still a few years down the line for you.
We will see. Maybe.
The book is written and submitted. Let’s talk about what the next steps are. We have some questions from Steve in the solo community. Steve, thanks for the questions. Steve wants to know what your plans are for promoting the book and how he and the community can help aside from the obvious of buying it.
I like how Steve has committed to the community to help. There’s a saying that publishers print books and authors sell books. I‘m hoping that won’t be the case here. Diversion, the press that’s printing the books, is excited about it. I‘ve heard from Liz that the sales team is excited about it. That makes me hopeful that they’re going to put resources into it. The major resource would be PR. There’s someone who’s going to help secure podcast interviews and media and help place articles. 1 out of 3 words got cut. I‘m going to try to reuse those words in the form of articles and so on. That’s a fingers–crossed situation.
There’s a whole bunch of other things, “Would they buy Amazon ad words, digital marketing stuff, and so on?” None of that has been discussed yet. Some of that is because it’s not part of the production cycle, but that’s coming. Maybe some of it will depend on what they think of what I delivered. They may read and be like, “Let’s go.” Independent of what they do, they may also support a little bit of a book tour or something. Book tours are not much of a thing anymore. I like doing them because they’re fun.
Independent of that, I’m starting to turn my attention to this. That will start to happen for me in August 2023 later on, but I have some articles that I’ll try to place and publish. I‘m going to start reaching out to people I’ve had connections with on podcasts, media, and so on. I‘m going to put together a set of salons as part of a book tour. I don’t know how ambitious it’s going to be, but if you are in a major city, and you have some event–planning skills, especially if you have some audience and want the Solo Salon book tour extravaganza to come to your city, I would welcome the help because I don’t have the bandwidth to set up salons in other cities. I need people on the ground who can help.
What cities are you hoping a pop eye?
I mentioned some of these before. Portland is a no-brainer because of the people who are there. LA is a no-brainer because of my connections. Denver will happen. It will probably be the launch. DC is one. In DC and Virginia, there seem to be a lot of people in the community. New York City is for obvious reasons. I would like to go to London. We have a lot of folks from the UK who are part of the solo community. The Euros are much better at thinking about these things than Americans. Those are some off the top.
That sounds exciting. I’m excited about the Denver one.
That’s going to be fun.
How can the people in the community help spread the word about the book? I’m going to tell you to leave a review, either 5 stars or 1 star, no 3-star reviews.
Reviewing it would help. Gifting it to people will help. If you know a journalist who would be interested in writing about it, contact them. If you know someone who runs a podcast, or if you’re a listener of a podcast that you think would be a good thing, reach out to that person suggesting me as a guest. All of those things do matter. If I get someone who reaches out to me and says, “I want to be on your show,“ I immediately discount that person, but if a member of the community goes, “You should have this person on the show,“ I immediately elevate that person.
Everyone, write Huberman and tell him you want a podcast about the science of being single. I love him.
I’m going to send out a solo newsletter. If you want to be involved, join the solo community at PeterMcGraw.org/solo. I‘m going to send out a solo newsletter soliciting help for this. Look for that also. Honestly, any little thing matters. Reviewing the show matters. Any of that would be useful and helpful.
I love this question. This is from Steve again. Thank you, Steve. Do you know how the book will be categorized for sale and libraries? Will it be under relationships or self-improvement? You said it’s funny. Humor section.
It’s not that funny. Let’s keep those expectations. You know what it is. In a horse race of funniness, it’s a fast horse because these singles books are not funny. They may be thoughtful and emotional, but they’re not humorous. If I come in second place in Kristin Newman’s book, I would be thrilled. I didn’t know the answer to this question. I asked my editor. She said self–help is going to be the primary category, and relationships and family will be the secondary categories. I don’t know what to think of that.
I’m all about the self-help section in the library.
I‘ve learned that it’s now called self-development because self-help sounds too New Age-y and doesn’t have the right connotations. It’s now self-development.
I like that even better. I’m going to go to the library after this. I have to return books. I’m going to ask them where the self-development section is. We will see what happens. Do you have any final thoughts you want to share?
I try not to think about them yet. I‘m starting to develop talks. I‘m super eager to talk about this.
What are the talks going to be?
I’m giving one on singles in marketing. This is to a group of marketers about how singles are overlooked in the marketplace. This talk is going to be about how your marketing communication should feature single people doing things alone. I have an idea about singles at work and in the marketplace. The anti-capitalist crowd hates this stuff, but it is a way to empower singles by getting organizations to start to meet their needs, make them feel seen, give them products and services that make their lives better, and create workplace environments that are fair and welcoming. That’s one area.
That’s also connected to my life as a behavioral economist, business school professor, marketing teacher, and so on. I have a talk called Living Single in a World Built for Two. That’s built on the idea that because the world is so focused on couplehood, there are all these stereotypes and stigmas that frankly aren’t true about singles. It’s an empowering talk for someone in the audience who is single.
It’s also one that helps the non-single crowd be better allies to their single family, friends, and coworkers. I have a very fun idea. I would like to create a TED-style talk about what married people can learn from remarkable singles. That’s a sexy topic. It could be both useful for married and non-married people. I‘m working on developing that and trying to find a home for that. I‘ve never been so excited to give talks.
This is exciting.
That also serves as marketing. If I can get in front of big enough audiences, the book helps me get in front of those audiences. Being in front of those audiences helps develop knowledge about the book.
The book was a launching platform for this whole bigger idea.
The book has done two things. It’s helped me supercharge my ideas and develop them by putting them on paper. It’s going to be the world’s largest business card for Solo if it goes well. It’s not going to be an opus. It’s not that. I‘ve had to let that go. That’s okay. If it goes well, it will be a good marketing opportunity.
I’m excited to see how your book is received and what comes next for you. This is the beginning of something.
That would be fun and exciting. The nice thing about it is that if nothing changes, I’m still happy. I love doing this show. I‘m not going to stop doing that. I love the people who have come into my life. If I end up only helping a few hundred or a few thousand, that’s great. That’s a few hundred or a few thousand who weren’t being helped before. If it could turn into tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, I would welcome that too. I would welcome how that would change my life, but the good news is that I don’t feel like I’m in deficit. I hope my other books would blow up and provide all these other opportunities. It would be nice if this one did. It doesn’t have to happen.
Something I was thinking about is you’re saying you want to help all these people with your book, which is fabulous, and it will, but I’m already seeing how the book has helped you. It solidified your being able to claim this life in a big way and not apologize for it.
If someone gets changed a third as much as I’ve been changed by it, it will be successful. I am a completely different person. I have a different lifestyle and view of the world. I made this transition from Pete to Peter and from single to solo. I needed this project to do that. I was limping along. I thought I knew what I was talking about on day one, but it’s an amazing transformation. I feel very fortunate.
That’s all my questions. The clipboard is empty.
I’m going to turn it around to you for the final question. You’ve been with me from the start. You were with me when I was hatching this idea. You’re on Episode 1, Episode 50, Episode 100, and Episode 150 as well as some others along the way. You’ve been such an incredible supporter of my writing in particular more so than anyone else. You believe in me more than I believe in myself, which I needed. What do you think about all of this? What do you think about moving forward?
How is it going to personally affect me?
For you or me, what are your reactions at this particular stage?
You said something before that resonated with me. That is my biggest takeaway from the whole project. During the show when we were talking, you mentioned how people go into dating with this idea of what it is that they want. For the last couple of years, I’ve been navigating single life and solo life with this idea of, “I’m not going to date because this is the type of relationship I want.” It’s more about meeting people I enjoy and taking that pressure off. You don’t have to be this. I want to spend time with people who are fun and exciting and create whatever type of relationship feels good for both of us. My biggest takeaway is you signed that permission slip for me.
I have no authority to give people any permission, but what I want to do is encourage them to explore. I‘ll finish with this thought. It’s related to what you were saying. A lot of people are familiar with the movie The Matrix. There’s a saying, “I see the Matrix.” The idea is that the Matrix is a program that simulates a world. These people are living in it, but they don’t even know that it’s a program. I see the Matrix now in particular because of this book. 1.) I stepped away from the real world for four months. 2.) I was writing about how the world is mostly made up.
I have this chapter about human domestication. Human beings are domesticators and domesticated, our superpower is that we are cultural learners. We can invent ideas. We can invent rules, and we’re very good at following them. The problem is that many of the rules are made up. They’re arbitrary. We know this because there were a whole bunch of rules a long time ago that we think are ridiculous yet we think the rules that we live by now are normal. That can’t be the case because the rules are constantly changing. They’re improving based on science and progress.
I feel a lot freer than I did before by recognizing that a lot of the things that seem so important or these fictions are made up. Many of them are temporary, and they’re enforced by other people. There’s a whole bunch of people who want you to behave the way they want you to behave. Why do they want you to behave that way? It makes them feel more comfortable about the way they behave. I‘m not going to put someone else’s happiness ahead of mine in that way.
I talk about being rebellious but being polite. This is not about being mean. This is not about hurting other people. It’s about moving through the world or the Matrix in a way that I feel more comfortable and recognizing that those other people can handle the fact that I am not doing what they want me to do. They would be better off not caring what I do because, in the same way, I don’t care what they do as long as what they do meets my criteria, which is they‘re not creating harm in people’s lives and that there’s consent. I feel so much more liberated as a result of it. I had to go into this laboratory to figure out the psychology, anthropology, and sociology that underlie human behavior in a way that I didn’t understand before and then start to be able to apply it to my life to be more comfortable.
It’s amazing. It’s very philosophical like Plato’s allegory of the cave. You had to go into the darkness, come out, and bring people your ideas.
I finished the book talking about The Virgin’s Promise, which was in a previous episode. When I first started the solo project, I thought the story of single to solo was a hero’s journey, but it’s not. It’s a virgin’s promise story. In The Virgin’s Promise, the protagonist lives in a world that he or she doesn’t fit in. What happens is that they have some power that the world does not want them to have and use. What they need to do is go into their secret world and play with that power.
What happens is it gets introduced into the real world. The kingdom is in chaos as a result of it. They experience the pressure to suppress who they are and what they are. They have a decision to make. They must walk in the wilderness and decide. Are they going to be their authentic self? Are they going to conform to the kingdom? In The Virgin’s Promise, they embrace their true self. What ends up happening is the kingdom changes around them for the better.
I believe the world is better when the person who is single embraces their singularity and uniqueness. That means the world may have to change. That means that your friends’ and family’s beliefs need to change. Maybe your job needs to change. Maybe something needs to change around you. Maybe your partnership needs to change, but it will be better because it will be more authentic or real, and you will be able to be this brightness in the kingdom. To fully understand that, I needed to go into my secret world and walk in the wilderness. There’s one thing about saying this on a show. There’s another thing about putting it in print, and now it’s going to be in print.
I’m proud of you. I can tell how passionate and connected you are to this subject.
I’m obsessed. Cheers.
- Kym Terribile
- Jessalyn Dean – Previous Episode
- Paul Shirley – Previous Episode
- The Process
- Kimberly Kessler – Previous Episode
- Suzette Smith – Previous Episode
- Mary Dahm – Previous Episode
- Laura Grant – Previous Episode
- Shane Mauss – Previous Episode
- Jen O’Donnell – Previous Episode
- Kristin Newman – Previous Episode
- What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding
- Episode 1 – Previous Episode
- Episode 50 – Previous Episode
- Episode 100 – Previous Episode
- Episode 150 – Previous Episode
- The Virgin’s Promise
About Kym Terribile
Kym Terribile is an entrepreneur, and the solo founder of Wax Crescent, a candle company focused on the idea of self-care and intentional living (also a sponsor to the podcast). Kym holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Hawaii and now lives in Longmont, Colorado.