30+ quotes from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick

Quotes from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own

Kate Bolick ·  308 pages

Rating: (6.9K votes)


“You are born, you grow up, you become a wife. But what if it wasn’t this way? What if a girl grew up like a boy, with marriage an abstract, someday thought, a thing to think about when she became an adult, a thing she could do, or not do, depending? What would that look and feel like?”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Those of us who’ve bypassed the exits for marriage and children tend to motor through our thirties like unlicensed drivers, unauthorized grownups.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“In 1896 the newspaperwoman Nellie Bly asked Susan B. Anthony if she’d ever been in love. Her answer: “Bless you, Nellie, I’ve been in love a thousand times! But I never loved any one so much that I thought it would last. In fact, I never felt I could give up my life of freedom to become a man’s housekeeper.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Few realizations are as demoralizing as knowing that the only thing standing between you and what you want is yourself,”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“The first thing that struck me was how the single women of my acquaintance were exceptionally alert to the people around them, generous in their attention, ready to engage in conversation or share a joke. Having nobody to go home to at night had always seemed a sad and lonesome fate; now I saw that being forced to leave the house for human contact encourages a person to live more fully in the world. In the best instances, the result was an intricate lacework of friendships varying in intensity and closeness that could be, it seemed, just as sustaining as a nuclear family, and possibly more appealing.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Today we tell girls to grow up to be or do whatever they want. But the cultural pressure to become a mother remains very strong; rare is she who doesn’t at least occasionally succumb to the nagging fear that if she remains childless, she’ll live to regret it.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“The question I’d long posed to myself—whether to be married or to be single—is a false binary. The space in which I’ve always wanted to live—indeed, where I have spend my adulthood—isn’t between those two poles, but beyond it. The choice between being married versus being single doesn’t even belong here in the twenty-first century.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“I never shall be an old maid, because I have elected to be a Girl Bachelor.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Maeve, you wrote this to Tillie Olsen, who treasured it, and had it up on her studio wall. I copied it, and it’s now on the [bulletin] board over my desk.” The passage reads: I have been trying to think of the word to say to you that would never fail to lift you up when you are too tired or too sad [to] not be downcast. But I can think only of a reminder—you are all it has. You are all your work has. It has nobody else and never had anybody else. If you deny it hands and a voice, it will continue as it is, alive, but speechless and without hands. You know it has eyes and can see you, and you know how hopefully it watches you. But I am speaking of a soul that is timid but that longs to be known. When you are so sad that you “cannot work” there is always danger fear will enter in and begin withering around. A good way to remain on guard is to go to the window and watch the birds for an hour or two or three. It is very comforting to see their beaks opening and shutting. This is real friendship—the kind that takes another’s soul as seriously as one’s own. Aristotle considered it the highest order of love, philia, or “friendship love,” in which tending to somebody else’s welfare is central to our own flourishing.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Being single is like being an artist, not because creating a functional single life is an art form, but because it requires the same close attention to one's singular needs, as well as the will and focus to fulfill them. Just as the artist arranges her life around her creativity, sacrificing conventional comforts and even social acceptance, sleeping and eating according to her own rhythms, so that her talent thrives above all else, nurtured the way a child might be, so a single person has to think hard to decipher what makes her happiest and most fulfilled.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Over the years I’ve noticed that only men use this phrase—“unlucky in love”—in reference exclusively to unmarried women, as if they can’t possibly comprehend that contentment or even happiness is possible without the centrality of a man.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“I’ve always considered myself to be similar. I’m no recluse, but, like an introvert, I need a lot of time alone to reflect and recharge, and I am easily drained by being around others, but at the same time, like an extrovert, I’m energized by parties and conversation.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Each of us is a museum that opens for business the moment we’re born, with memory the sole curator. How could a staff of one possibly stay abreast of all those holdings?”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“our first experiences of pleasurable solitude teach us how to be content by ourselves and shape the conditions in which we seek it.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“She loved so many things—cats, dogs, roses, people—that sometimes I wonder if she chose to be alone to best enjoy them all.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“If a woman liked to play with words and set them in patterns and make pictures with them, and was taking care of herself and bothering nobody, and enjoyed her life without a lot of bawling children around, why shouldn’t she?”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Coupling, I realized, can encourage a fairly static way of being, with each partner exaggerating or repressing certain qualities in relation to the other’s.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“The idea of love seemed an invasion,” she wrote. “I had thoughts to think, a craft to learn, a self to discover. Solitude was a gift. A world was waiting to welcome me if I was willing to enter it alone.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“my mother died unexpectedly, and in the months that followed I’d been gutted to discover that without our conversations, which I’d always assumed would be there for the having, I had absolutely no idea how to make sense of myself.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“How even I, “a dutiful daughter,” as Simone de Beauvoir once described her young self, was living a life so different from my mother’s; when she was my age she was married, about to become pregnant with me. I was beginning to think that this habit of mind—constantly tracing myself back to my mother, to where she’d begun and left off—wasn’t idiosyncratic, but something that many if not most women did, a feature of the female experience.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“When the present feels as endless as an impossibly long hallway between airport terminals, white and sterile and numb, we're particularly receptive to signs.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“But the knowing was visceral: if I became a mother, I’d lose myself.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Key to women’s ascent was the typewriter. Invented in 1867 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the original model was decorated with floral decals and mounted on a treadle table, like a sewing machine; promoters proclaimed it perfect for a woman’s “nimble fingers.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“We need much better and many more models. We need movies where women are attractive and interesting and have great lives and may not be married.” She cautioned that conjuring possible selves on our own isn’t enough—institutional support is also necessary. “Schools, workplaces, laws, norms, the media—they all need to make it clear that there are other ways to be a woman or a member of one minority group or another.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“She never talked about wanting to have children. I believe she wanted solitude and cats.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“What bothered me was the assumption that because I was a woman in her early thirties, I must be “desperate” for marriage. At first this seemed only irritating; every romantic encounter arrived in the same cumbersome frame I had to repeatedly dismantle. But after a while, the fixedness of this belief felt not merely claustrophobic and repetitive but downright pernicious.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“Didn’t she remember that being single is more than just following your whims—that it also means having nobody to help you make difficult decisions, or comfort you at the end of a bad week?”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“I had absolutely no idea how to make sense of myself.”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


“I wasn’t a woman who needed convincing that she wanted to be alone, but I did need help seeing clearly what that reality might look like, and evidence that there were indeed rewards to be gained if I was bold enough to pursue them—that,”
― Kate Bolick, quote from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own


About the author

Kate Bolick
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