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I was recently at a friend’s 26th birthday gathering.
I asked her if she was excited to turn 26. In my eyes, life keeps getting better as I get older. The older I get, the more grounded I become in who I am; the more comfortable I feel in this skin; the sturdier my soul sits in these bones; the more beautiful I feel.
A discussion sparked within the group about how people say your 30s are your best years (probably for those above reasons). One of the other women there chimed in that the people who say your 30s are your best years are the people who are getting married, having children, and settling—whatever that even means.
At that moment, a piece of my heart broke a little bit—to hear a young, beautiful, ripe-to-the-world 26-year-old express that she thinks her upper 20s and 30s will only be her best years if she is on the path of marriage and children. It breaks my heart that we, as women, are taught to believe that finding others to complete us should be our goal.
When were we conditioned into thinking that we need anyone outside of ourselves to be whole? Why do so many women view being single as a bad thing or something to be embarrassed about? And why the hell are there so many romantic comedies about needing to find a date for the wedding? Is it too shameful to go by yourself?
I’ve been single for three years, and it’s something I’m actually proud of. I’m proud of myself for not settling for something mediocre just for the sake of being in a relationship. I’m proud of myself for being discerning in whom I choose to give my time to. I think being alone is something more people need to experience.
How can we expect to have successful partnerships when we haven’t taken the time to get to know our own souls? This doesn’t mean I don’t want a partner and children in the future—I do. But I am still perplexed by the lingering shame around being single after you pass a certain age, specifically for women.
Single. Married. Dating. Why can’t we all just be seen as humans, without being tied to our relationship status? Why is it that, so often, others ask us if we are in relationships or details about our dating lives before they even ask us about ourselves?
For the most part, the structure of adult life I saw growing up was the traditional model of a family: the mom, the dad, and the children. And then there was the rare single parent who was pitied for being in that situation as if being a single mother or father was something sad or unfortunate. It has taken me some time to spread my wings and explore other styles of living as an adult; I moved away from home and became exposed to different kinds of people.
I have friends who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Some are married without children, some have children without being married, some aren’t married nor have children, and none of it is looked at as a shameful thing. They are just humans living their lives—doing some rad sh*t with their lives, too, might I add. Some have devoted their lives to climbing mountains; some own meaningful businesses; some are artists.
I’m not writing this to shame getting married and having children. Again, that is something I do want for my life when the time is right. I recognize there is a duality to this perspective. And maybe five years from now, you’ll catch me writing an article about how beautiful it is to have found a lifelong partner whom I want children with. I guess I just want us all to think a little deeper into why we might want that.
Is it because of societal pressure, or is it genuinely something we want?
Is it something we are truly ready for, or do we feel rushed and pressured by that imaginary ticking clock society hangs in our faces?
I don’t know much, and I don’t know what the future has in store for anyone. All I do know is that no matter what path we choose for our lives, the sunshine inside of our own souls is all that is guaranteed.