About A Single Thing: Most pop culture discussion about the single life points at how to avoid it at all costs. But many people will tell you that they’ve grown more, changed for the better, and learned the most about themselves while flying solo than they have being in a relationship. So how can we get the most out of being single? What can we celebrate about aloneness? In this culture of coupledom, why can’t singledom be a great thing? Writer Natalie Karneef speaks with friends, experts, and celebrities and gets their true tales on navigating the peaks and valleys of the unattached life.
Et Alia caught up with Natalie on Valentine's Day, to see what this day might look for those not coupled.
You are typically a nonfiction writer and essayist, and contributed to Scars: An Anthology in the form of an essay, “Removal.” What drew you to making this podcast, and to podcasting as a storytelling medium?
I used to work as a radio journalist and producer, and have edited video. Both those mediums allow for the use of music as part of storytelling, and I fell in love with that. I find there is something so moving about hearing someone tell their own stories, with their own emphases and pauses and emotions. There is something about the immediacy of podcasting (vs books) that is similar to blogging. Also, we're all getting a bit screen-tired. Podcasting seems like more of a conversation, there is more a more immediate response from the listeners.
What kind of feedback are you getting? From listeners and participants?
I'm hearing a lot of listeners who are in relationships say they can also really relate. Participants seem to find the process of telling their story cathartic, and it's nice because lots of great storytellers are not great writers—but when they speak their story . . . WATCH OUT! It's incredible. People have also loved the music, which makes me really happy as my brother composes everything. I'm getting a lot of “when is the next episode!?!?!”
You've talked to a woman whose marriage to a sex addict made her a better person and parent, a guy whose fundamentalist family encouraged him to pray the gay away, a friend of yours who asked out Amy Schumer at a spa, and so many other exciting guests. Plus, you share openly about your own divorce and dating life. What makes your interviewees so willing to talk openly about this stuff?
I think the power of these stories is that there is perspective, which means they are usually far enough in the past, whether that's a few months or years, that healing has happened. And when healing happens, I find people are often more drawn to opening themselves up. I think they also realize, and especially the people you mention, that they might be able to help others in similar situations by telling their stories. And in my experience of being pretty open book, that's worth it.
What do you hope listeners can take away from hearing these stories?
It’s the same as everything I write: I want people to know they're not alone in their suffering. We live in a society so obsessed with perfectionism and being #1 and putting on a big smile that people feel like they're the only one struggling. They feel isolated. It's that isolation that's the enemy, that idea that "there's something wrong with me". But when we share our stories, it connects us, which I believe is the way we are supposed to live.