I was sitting across from my aunt in a seafood restaurant when I heard the statement that changed my life. Sure, maybe I knew it before, but it hadn’t so abruptly resonated with me until then.
“So, any men in your life?” she had asked. I have gotten this question so many times that I’ve stopped listening and crafted an automatic response to spit back as soon as the tiresome inquiry ends.
“No, I just can’t seem to find someone who is moving at the same pace as I am. I don’t like to stay in one place for too long and I have yet to encounter someone who is going in my direction.” There. I had rattled off the sad truth, packaged in optimistic words. Sometimes I worry it makes me sound pretentious or picky, but then I know that it has nothing to do with how others perceive me and much more to do with how I simply will not settle for a mediocre relationship.
My aunt looked at me and cocked her head slightly, nodding.
“It would kill you,” she started. I raised an eyebrow and she continued. “It would kill you to be tied down like that. Some people aren’t meant for that life. Like butterflies, you have to let them fly. You have to fly.”
I took a sip of my water and collected my thoughts. No advice on how I’ll find the one? No “you’re such an amazing catch” or “you’ve got plenty of time”?
I was honestly at a loss for words.
“Exactly.” I nodded. I don’t suppose I ever pictured myself ending up alone, but in that moment, I realized it might not be the worst thing. I am surrounded by some of the most amazing relationships that exist on this earth; it’s no wonder I am always worrying about changing my bleak fate as a lone wolf. But the idea that I might suffocate in a normal relationship had somehow failed to cross my mind.
This is not meant to be a feminist rant, because I have some awesome friends who hold up all the pillars of female power while sharing genuine, healthy relationships with their significant others. This is meant to take a step back from the “Reasons Why Getting Married In Your 20s Is The Best” and the “Reasons Why Being Single In Your 20s Is Better” propaganda out there to realize that maybe our 20s aren’t all about marriage or the lack thereof. Sure, it might be a part of it. But should that be our focus?
Maybe it’s about growth. Marriage, travel, education and mistakes all have that in common. And they all start truly holding value in our 20s. So perhaps it is growth, which is completely and utterly unique for every person. Some may be like cats, eager to curl up in their home and care for their young; others like dogs, seeking fresh breeze on their face and attention from new friends. And some might just be butterflies, flitting from place to place without constraint.
Besides, what kind of world would this be if there was only one path?