There’s a total of three wedding invitations on my desk.
I’ve attended my best friend’s wedding a couple of months ago, and now I have another three to attend to before this year ends. One from an old friend in college, one from a distant relative, and one from a colleague I’ve been friends with for over a year now.
I honestly don’t know if I have a huge signboard on top of my head that says “bridesmaid material,” but everyone seems to think that I’m a perfect fit for the entourage they have envisioned. Not that I’m complaining (friends, if you’re reading this, don’t get me wrong), but setting this year aside, I’ve actually been a bridesmaid for as long as I can remember. Yes, always the bridesmaid and never the bride…I get that a lot. At one point, I felt bad about it. But then over time, your perception changes and you’ll suddenly become apathetic to the whole idea it presents.
I used to enjoy weddings. I used to love such celebrations that I’m required to wear matching dresses with my friends. Having our photos taken while trying to act as natural as possible, pretending to look festive for an amazing wedding memento. Wedding vows I’ve heard back then warmed my hopeful young heart. In fact, I have thought about how mine would be like. When you’re young and silly, and love seems to be a huge part of your life, you tend to look forward to settling down… I did. I used to have a foolish heart that my mind can’t even comprehend, yet tolerated for years.
Up to this day, I can still recall how my ex-boyfriend responded when I was begging him to get back with me.
“You’ve never been single, you’re always in a relationship. Why don’t you give yourself a chance to enjoy your solitude?”
To say that I was dumbfounded was an understatement because clearly, I wasn’t asking him to get back with me simply because I’m not used to being single, but because I was still in love with him. I can’t quite grasp the idea that someone who’s been with me for years actually thinks I’m this shallow and needy girl who can’t handle being alone. Yet somehow, the words he threw point-blank at me stung, that I even thought he must be right. And so up until today, I’d rather keep the solitude he eagerly shoved in my face.
The first few months after the breakup, I often tell everyone that I enjoy being single. I love the fact that every decision I make depends solely on what I want. I thought I was doing just fine until Valentine’s Day rolls in. Classic, right? There could be no better day to remind you of how alone and lonely you are. I got so good at acting all fine, that I can’t even cry even if I wanted to. I ended up buying myself chocolates and flowers because, for the first time, there’s no one else who will do it for me. Now remind me, what’s so good about solitude again?
Months passed and of course, my friends started worrying why I don’t even go out on dates. So I got introduced to guys whose names I can no longer remember. I’ve gone out on a couple of dates. Some I’ve seen for over a week, some ended as soon as we greeted each other. None of them made me feel that a relationship was worth pursuing. And I might have been too picky or did not care at all, but when you’re a girl who’s accustomed to dating someone for more than a year, you know exactly if a person is for the long haul.
I became this girl who questions every good thing that someone presents because my mind automatically looks for the bad aspects. It’s been a year when I started telling my best friend that I’ll probably not date again, nor settle down. Of course, I don’t want to be pitied so I kept convincing her that I’m totally okay with it and that I know not a single person apart from my mom can take care of me better than I take care of myself. But truth be told, I was scared. I’m in my mid-20s with no definite plan of where my life is headed to. I even got to a point wherein I should be happy for my friends who started getting to know someone, falling in love, or getting engaged, but all the more I felt sad about my not-so-colorful dating life. I was so consumed by my loneliness that I even avoided them and quickly shut them down whenever they try to update me about the person that makes them so happy. I know… shame on me for not being a good friend at all just because I’m nursing my hurting ego.
But just like how they say that it takes a lot of getting used to the feeling, that it eventually makes you get over it…I woke up one day no longer feeling the emptiness on the other side of the bed. I can’t even remember the void I’m unable to fill and cried over for months. And finally, I understood what solitude really means because it’s more than the definition a dictionary can provide you.
It did not magically happen in which you just stop feeling the sadness. It was always present but I began to see the good thing about it. When sadness is the only emotion your body can accommodate, you begin to fill yourself with the love that you have always felt the need to give to someone else. I did things that I swore I’ll probably never do without him, such as traveling in a country I know so little about. I learned things that he would not let me do on my own before simply because he always did everything for me. I became my own person. All the “I can’ts” before became “I cans.” I refused anyone who feels the need to put me in place because for the longest time that I have depended on another person, I now have the last say on everything that concerns my well-being and happiness.
While it used to bother me back then when I tell everyone that I’ll probably not marry at all, saying this to my mom right now gives me the certainty that this is how solitude really feels… contentment in yourself without the need for someone else to make you feel whole.
The truth is that I may not be enticed, nor moved by the romantic bearing of marriage, but the way I view it now makes me believe that I made the right decisions in my life so far.
Weddings may not have the same effect on me anymore, but I’m certain that the way being alone made me into someone I can be proud of… settling down with the love of your life may also be a journey you’d not regret to take. Just because I don’t consider it as something that will work for me, doesn’t mean it would not work for others as well. I guess what I’m trying to put out there is that each and every person’s happiness depends on how they have actually realized what they wanted in life, and what have contributed or helped them to achieve it.
Even if everyone around you is falling in love, getting engaged or getting married, it’s okay to not want it or to not take the same road. Because no matter what the whole world tells you, you are and you always will be responsible for your happiness… not an engagement ring, nor a wedding dress.