My senior year of college has been rough for many reasons: planning and leading a retreat in the fall, writing and presenting a 20-page research paper, putting together my portfolio for my major, trying to decide how long I want to wait to apply to graduate school, finding a job for after graduation.
Unrelated to all the academic hustle and bustle, though, is the feeling that so many people my age are falling in love, getting engaged, or planning their weddings. Important milestones for twenty-somethings who are getting ready to make the transition into the real world…and ones that I haven’t reached yet.
And that’s been a bit rough on me, too. Not as much as all the schoolwork and graduation preparation, of course, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me just a little.
I’ve never been good at the whole love thing. My attitude towards it has always been one of two extremes, hardly ever finding middle ground between them. In high school, I felt I wasn’t outgoing or pretty enough for any guy to like me, as much as I may have wanted it, so I pushed away any desire I might have had for it and told myself it couldn’t happen to me. I became a bit of a grouch about it, to be honest.
I finally lightened up about it more than halfway through my college career, but that took the form of pinning mushy romantic quotes to Pinterest, daydreaming about what my proposal will look like, and wishing, hoping, praying, that there’s a guy out there who’s crazy enough to think I’m special. I became a hopeless romantic, words that I would have gagged on in high school. But that only resulted in mild feelings of jealousy when friends and acquaintances found love or got engaged. I was happy for them, but I still couldn’t help but wonder when such good fortune would come my way.
And I found myself reliving my first year of high school, battling with those feelings that there’s something about me that makes me unlovable.
And I’m not the most confident person to begin with, so that list of “somethings” is quite long: I’m too quiet and awkward, I don’t know how to flirt, my face isn’t pretty enough, I’m not interesting enough, I’m not always good at letting my feelings show…I could go on.
I think that’s part of my problem, though: I get so caught up in that sappy “the perfect guy is out there” mentality that it makes me feel like being single means I’m cursed. I think that having a guy will somehow validate my worth and put an end to my insecurities.
I think some people, myself included, view finding love as a goal, or singleness as something that they need to “fix” about themselves. And I think that can be dangerous because it causes us to think that we’re somehow incomplete or unworthy if we don’t have a significant other. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to find love, of course; it’s a beautiful, normal, and healthy desire. But I wonder if putting it on the top of our lists of priorities is only setting us up for misery if life doesn’t give us what we want.
So I’m going to attempt to find that healthy middle ground in my attitude about love that has eluded me for years: Open to it but not desperate for it, optimistic about it but being happy with my life until it happens, and seeing myself as worthy of love, from others, yes, but especially from myself. How can I trust myself to give and receive love if I can’t even love myself first?
My singleness is not a deficiency or something to be corrected. It certainly doesn’t mean I’m unlovable or unworthy, and it doesn’t mean I’m on the “wrong” path compared to some of my fellow classmates. It’s just where I am in my life right now, and that’s okay. There’s plenty of life ahead of me yet, and my relationship status shouldn’t determine whether or not I enjoy it.