Can someone tell me why being in a relationship is the only important thing people seem to think happens in my life?
The first question anyone who hasn’t seen me in awhile asks is always, “So, are you seeing anyone?” or “Do you have a boyfriend?” The minute I say no, their smile goes away and they respond with a sad and disappointed, “Oh.”
And then the questions stop.
I always wait for the next question – trying not to be annoyed that that was their first question to begin with – but they never come. What about, “How’s school going?” or “Have you been published yet?” or “Do you have a job or internship?” or “What are your plans once you graduate in nine months?” But, no. There are usually no more questions, or if there are, they’re generic and non-specific.
For starters, I’m only 28; it’s not like I’m single and 45 and hoarding cats. (Anyone that knows me knows I’m a dog person, anyway.) 28 isn't old and it isn't the start of my ovaries drying out.Who I am isn’t caught up in my relationship with another person (i.e. a man); my worth is wrapped up in what I think of myself, and for the first time almost ever, I’m focusing on MY future and the things I want to accomplish and on the person I want to be. And, I’m starting to get excited about my future. (Albeit scared; but mostly excited.)
I’m getting a master’s degree after spending seven years in my undergraduate career, wasting three of those seven years on a major I hated (and that started to make me hate myself) and that I tried to pretend I loved and was good at. Because I hated most of those seven years, I promised myself I would never go back to school. But, I made the decision to go to school because I wanted to. (And, might I add, I’m doing really well and working hard for once.) I was just offered an internship that I really wanted for a magazine that only has eight or so people on staff, and I’m really proud of myself. (And that’s something I don’t often feel or say.) I’m learning a lot; it seems small to say, but I always skated through my education, doing well enough to look decent on paper and to not fail (well, before my undergraduate years, that is), but for once, I enjoy learning, whether it’s in a formal setting or outside of it. I’m helping to raise my niece, and not only is it fun and she’s cuter than most other people’s kids (sorry guys), but I don’t think I’ve ever learned more about motherhood, my sister, being a sister, or about myself.
But, mostly, for the first time in my life, I’m thinking about a future that I want for myself. I’m not making plans that will keep me where I think I’m needed or where it will be easiest for me or where I feel like I’m supposed to be. I stayed close for my undergraduate career because I was too scared to really leave home, and I stayed close for my graduate career because I didn’t want to leave my family, especially when my sister found out she was expecting. (I should say this: I don’t regret the decision I made to accept admission to Saint Mary’s. Not only do I love my program and the people in it, but I also feel like the program is exactly what I wanted. And, I do not once ever regret being here to watch my niece grow up and to be a part of raising her. I love her beyond what I could ever put on paper and if I had to make the choice again, I’d make the same one every single time.)
I have never been more excited and proud of where I’ve allowed myself to be. Most people know things have been rocky the past couple months, (whether or not you know why is a different story) but these past couple months have also opened my eyes to the things in my life I had been missing and setting aside and ignoring. As hard as these few months have been – and as hard as they continue to be – I know that even if I am single, I’m not afraid to tell people I am. I’m not ashamed to not be in a relationship and I’m happy to be in a place where I am the only person to worry about and to be able to take care of myself and my future 100%.
So, if you ask me, the answer will be, no, I’m not in a relationship, and I don’t know when I will be “the next” to get married and if I will be “the next” to get married and honestly, I’m okay with that.
“When did being alone become the modern equivalent of being a leper?”
-- Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City, “They Shoot Single People, Don’t They?”