Now that I’m in my twenties, it feels like everyone around me is either in a relationship, engaged, planning a wedding, or married. I see that many of them are happy and very much in love (which is a beautiful thing), but it still doesn’t quite make sense to me. Why, at such a young age before you’ve really experienced your life, would you possibly want to commit to one person, settle down, and start a family? Granted, these are all perfectly normal, exciting, and borderline expected chapters of a person’s life, but who says they have to be written out so soon? Or, for that matter, at all?
At this point you’ve probably guessed that I’m single. You guessed right, congratulations! I haven’t always been single, though. Three times in my life, I have told another person those jaw-dropping, knee-knocking, heart-stopping words that so many of us want to hear: “I love you.” And every time, I meant it. But what came with those words immediately after the moment I’ve said them was a weight and reality that sank into me deeper than I’ve ever been able to articulate. It was the simultaneous declaration and relinquishing of my vulnerability to another human being. It’s electrifying, yes, but also utterly compromising to the point of no return.
Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but that’s what it feels like to me.
And while that bliss is something every one of us deserves, it’s also critical to consider all that you sacrifice as a result of finding it. To give so much of yourself to another individual is a responsibility akin to a full-time job. You must be willing and ready to put someone else first. You have to juggle their needs in addition to your own. And you must ensure that your sense of self is secure.
These points are especially important if you’re someone who believes that you’ll never find anyone to make you happy. If you believe this, then brace for the reality that you may never find them. Why? Because the person that will make you happy is already in your life. They have been staring back at you in the mirror every day, and you have been utterly blind. When it comes to being happy, the fact of the matter is this: true love and happiness when sought out externally, is fleeting. Only the soul bears the fruit of that tree as the love of your life, first and foremost, is you.
Our society tells us on a daily basis that finding and obtaining a lover is fundamental to our existence. Bullshit. Our society also happens to have a lovely little statistic that tells us that approximately fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. How charming.
The root of this problem doesn’t seem to pertain to money (though many issues in relationships are often financial), kids, careers, or any other tension inducing conflict between two individuals. In my opinion and personal experience, the real issue stems from wanting our partners so badly to be what we want them to be, which is often everything we’re not. In other words, we want our ideal partners to respect, adore, and worship us in a way that we, for some reason, can’t seem to do the same for ourselves.
It’s easy to forget how flawed we truly are and to assume that everyone else is perfect. Everything on the outside looks perfect, and so that’s what we tend to gravitate towards. We fail to look deeper and pull back the curtains. Instead, relationship aesthetic (think, OTPs) blind us in such a way that we’re drawn into what appears to be the perfect person.
This may be why so many twenty-somethings latch on so quickly to the first human that shows sincere affection. And while this has happened to me, I also knew that I was still developing in my relationships. Being so young often makes dating feel superficial. I wasn’t where I wanted to be internally yet. I wasn’t yet a fully realized adult. And maturity had yet to bloom in my actions and way of thinking (these are still things that I’m constantly working on).
This is not to say that I felt like I needed to be at 100% in all areas of my life in order to be with someone, but it felt wrong to pursue something in someone that I didn’t already have within myself. And so, even the slightest thought of marriage threw me off balance. Commit to another person till death do us part, you say? I can barely commit to my outfit choice in the morning! Mundane decisions are a part of life, but deciding who you’re going to spend the rest of it with should not be one of them.
So to all the people in the world who are feeling frustrated and hopeless, or are fed-up with being single, I’m begging you to take a step back and understand that you’ve got it made. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30, 40, or beyond in age, you are very lucky to be right where you are. There is a freedom that comes with being single that coupled people rarely experience. To be alone is not equivalent to loneliness.
Single is synonymous with exploration and opportunity, with fewer plates to set out at dinner so you can eat it all for yourself, with burping and scratching your ass without trying to be discrete about it, with No Make-Up Monday being any day of the week, and No Shave November being any month of the year! It’s a blessing that people are too quick to write off as a curse. Single is a word that you should rejoice, not reject. It’s the time to experience and become everything you could possibly want without anyone holding you back.
Yes, I still believe in soulmates and that the “love of your life” exists in an intimate sense. But we should stop limiting ourselves to thinking that there is only one love of our lives, when in fact there are many. Have we forgotten about our familial and platonic relationships? Our best friends, our peers, our pets? The passions that keep us going and the heroes that inspire us?
And what about that incredible reflection in the mirror I mentioned earlier? If we continue to neglect the countless other loves in our lives outside of “the one” we’re told is supposedly “true,” then we will forever feel lonely, unhappy, and unfulfilled. Rushing romantic love when you’re already surrounded by love in all its other forms is like looking forward to next Christmas while you’re still unwrapping presents!
Please, pause. Relish this freedom. Embrace your status. Evaluate all that’s inside you, and take comfort in all that’s around you. You already have all that you need.