I’ll be 25 on my next birthday. My best friend says I should be excited because it’s a quarter year and quarters are super useful for things like laundry and vending machines. I, on the other hand, am sadly realizing that I now have to say I’m in my mid-twenties. Those carefree early-twenties college days are long gone.
I’m quite aware that 25 is by no means ancient. And I’m not too concerned about the fact that 25 will find me quite single and unattached, although my dear 95-year-old grandmother shakes her head in dismay at the fact that no man has yet “snatched me up.”
To most of the world, 25 is still young. But where I grew up in rural Iowa, most people are married to their high school sweethearts by 20 or 21 and have a baby or two by 25. So 25 and single is breaking the mold in scandalous ways. And when I visit home, I can tell the well-meaning citizens of my lovely little hometown are clearly wondering when I’ll be “snatched up.” (And much to my grandmother’s chagrin, my high school sweetheart just got engaged, so that ship has sailed.)
But being 25 and single is an okay place to be right now. Because 25 and single let me live overseas in my early twenties. It let me move to wherever the heck I wanted when I got back to the States. It let me do that whole wannabe hipster thing for awhile and work as a barista and wear flannel shirts every day. It’s letting me go to graduate school. It’s letting me go abroad as often as my meager finances allow, because hey, there’s nothing else placing restraints on my time or energy or money. And I’m sure someday I’ll welcome those restraints, and I’m sure at that point they won’t seem like restraints, but for now, I’m okay being 25 and single.
Because, dear world, being single is nothing to be pitied. You hear that? I’m fairly certain that if I desperately wanted to have a boyfriend, I could have one. I don’t think it’s that I’m horribly undesirable or unattractive, it’s just that I’d rather not meet a man in a bar or date a man who only wants to get me into bed and then ditches me as soon as he realizes he’s not going to get me there.
So I’m okay being single. Really, it’s okay. Would I like a boyfriend? Would I like to be married someday? Yes. But until that happens I’m not going to sit around bemoaning the fact that I’m single. Instead I’m going to have adventures. I’m going to travel. I’m going to glean as much knowledge from the halls of academia as possible. I’m going to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be, so if ever I do meet the “right” one, I’m ready for everything that relationship will entail, and there will be nothing I regretted not doing. And I’m happy for all of you who have found those “right” ones, and I commend you for the different sorts of adventures you are embarking on in your own timing and your own ways.
But to my dear, single friends who might be desperately trying to find love: it’s okay to desire it, but don’t stake your self-worth on finding it. Have the self-respect to live your life fully and beautifully and courageously right now, because that’s the most attractive thing in the world. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect.”
Yes, those are the things I want to someone to fall in love with.