How Am I Supposed To Explain To People That ‘Being Me’ Is Enough?

My mother’s friend hasn’t seen me in a number of years so that makes it appropriate to ask if I’m involved with anyone. And I get it. Everyone’s a detective trying to piece things together. You got a love life? A work life? A happy life? None of us know how to ask the right questions. We’re responding to societal stimuli. We’re making polite conversation, remember?

I repeat the same sentence five times. I throw a jovial chuckle in front of it. “I’m single! Focusing on myself right now.” A gentle ‘haha’ before and after. I’m met with smiles and advice. Older women tell me I’m ‘being smart’ and I fight my eyes on their natural impulse to roll. A woman in her 40s leans down to whisper, “Having kids in your 20s is a mistake.” I immediately wonder if she had kids in her 20s. I feel bad for her children. Do they know Mom hops from party to party warning young women from the fate she’s destined to?! I then remember my mother had me at 25. I fantasize whispering back to her, “Psstt, am I a mistake?”

I think about the things we talk about with people we just met. What do you do? Where are you from? What’s your family like? What do you like doing on a Friday night?

This time I let my eyes roll so far back in my head, I wonder if I will ever see them again.

I haven’t been in love in a really, really, really long time. I’m still me, though. Still have freckled cheeks and a weird obsession with lip syncing. Still like sharks and talk about Buffy The Vampire Slayer in bars to people who don’t care. Still love my mom more than anything and text Johanna things like, “Want to hear something fucked up?”

I’ve never been someone who needed to be defined by my relationship status. It’s never been about just having someone, it’s having the right someone. Being single is a goddamn gift if the alternative is having the wrong someone.

I am me and me is enough.

Is that an appropriate response? TC mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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