Single Not Broken
I was recently the Maid of Honor in my cousin's wedding - my younger cousin. My three years younger than me cousin. You should also know that I am 26. In Hispanic culture that means I’m actually 48, and there are cats crawling out from under my ankle length skirt, which my family probably believes I use to hide the legs I haven’t shaved in over a decade.
These grandiose events are always fun, especially when I’m with my family. But as we know, family can sometimes be a bit much. Right before the wedding I made a bet with a friend. $100 on getting asked about my plans for marriage at least five times. My friend highly disagreed as I am notorious for being a private person, and therefore people don’t really ask me anything personal. Bet result: I should’ve made it 10+ times and $200 bucks. Family members were showering me with compliments, followed by unapologetic enthusiasm for their schemes to have me wed because according to all of them, “I’m next.”
Truth is, I’ve only ever brought a guy home once. I was also 17, so... that doesn’t really count. I always tell my people that they’ll meet my SO the day of my wedding at the altar. They think it’s a joke, but I’m almost certain I’m serious.
There is this nonsensical cultural belief that a woman of my age should already be married with children. That at 26, I should be working on my second child and celebrating my four year wedding anniversary.
I would like to clear the air on a few common misconceptions people have about single women in their twenties.
WE ARE SINGLE, NOT BROKEN.
I have literally heard people ask my parents if there is something wrong with me. As if my singleness is a symptom of an underlying disease that I harbor which prohibits me from being in a relationship with another human. I’ll be honest and say it used to be insulting, but now it’s just funny and sometimes sad. To think that we are teaching our daughters and young women that if you are single there is something wrong with you. Society already does a phenomenal job at this by romanticizing everything and making us believe that true happiness is hidden in someone else, making it our job to spend our young adulthood finding the person who has held our joy hostage.
Person: But she’s such a great cook, and she’s so responsible. She cleans, she knows how to take care of children, she is even intelligent.
My mom: ………..
Person: Maybe she’s a lesbian, or maybe she has a boyfriend she won’t tell you about.
My mom: …………
A few months ago, I took my grandmother (whom I love dearly and is one my favorite humans on this planet) to run some errands. Since she has decades of experience with being a single mom of 13 children, I thought she would appreciate my answer to her question about my plans to get married and have children before she dies (grandmothers can be hella cruel sometimes). I told her I wasn’t really sure I wanted to get married, and I was almost certain that I didn’t want children. I expected her to praise my independence and pat me on the back as a sign of approval ‘cause grandma is feminist AF. Instead, she patted her chest in heart attack like motions and opened her eyes so wide I could see my past, present and future. It was as if I had told her I wanted to spend the rest of my life kidnapping cats and eating peanut butter out of a jar.
She proceeded to explain that women weren’t made to be alone. That our bodies need to reproduce. That I was going against human nature by being selfish. I tried to explain my modern TWENTY SIXTEEN, millennial beliefs, but she was not having it. And it made me realize, most people don’t understand and aren’t having it. They assume that you are defective. That there is some dark deep nasty secret you are hiding so that must be the only explanation as to why you’re still single.
To Grandma, and all other spectators: I am happy and, as Warsan Shire once said, “I belong deeply to myself.”
I DO NOT LOSE SLEEP OVER THE STATE OF MY EGGS
My best friend Melissa makes this joke that I love. “How do you like your eggs, Denisse?” To which I am supposed to respond… “FERTILIZED!” Because at our age, that is the only way you should be thinking about your eggs. Personal research, the internet, and my grandmother have all brought me to the same conclusion: They all assume that I sit up in bed at night thinking of how my poor eggs hate me because of my current life decisions. Furthermore, there is this alleged loneliness and longing that single women my age are supposed to feel because our life goals should be outdated and textbook like.
In reality, we’re often thinking about things like brunch, whether our desire to have a summer (or at least late fall) body is greater than our desire to stay in bed. We even have happy thoughts about not having to share things with someone. Yes, some of us are happy in our solitude. If you’re a small business owner or someone who wears many hats like me, you’re thinking about ways to stretch time, remember to brush your hair and put pants on. But very seldom if ever are we thinking about how no one will want us when we are 30 or 40. I have heard parents tell my friends that the longer they wait to find the alleged “one,” the less desirable they will be because men want babies and sandwiches, and a woman with the physique of an 18-year-old Victoria’s Secret model.
Friends, you can rest assured. I have met incredible men who have no interest in any of the aforementioned. Ladies who are losing sleep over this, calm down. It’s not the end of the world, and the truth of the matter is that your eggs are probably fine. You’re fine. Your uterus isn’t old and dusty. You’ll live.
WE ARE NOT AS BAD AT DATING AS YOU ASSUME WE ARE
My younger sister Karen has been in a relationship with her SO for two years. During these two years I’ve been in a committed relationship, gone on dates, played the field, etc. In recent conversation, Karen revealed that she has me down to a science.
Me: Comes home after date with an unimpressed aura.
Karen: What happened now?
Me: He was boring and had zero ambition. Plus he made that stupid old joke about sleeping with the nanny.
Karen: Oh god.. You always do the same thing. You are interested in a guy, you get to know him, and then you get bored. But at least you know what you want and aren’t going to waste anyone’s time.
My wise younger sister is right. This is usually how the dating cycle goes for me. But it doesn’t happen this way because I’m difficult, picky, hard to impress or unreasonable. It happens because I’m old enough to be at an age where although I may not know exactly what I want, I’m mature enough to weed out the bullshit. So in reality, I’m a lot better at dating than most people are.
I recently started dating again after a few years of having an SO, and it’s been one of the funniest, best experiences of my life. You should note that I’m actually so happy I get to do this at my age and not a couple of years ago when I had ZERO clues about how to do this thing. I mean I still don’t, but come on. So because of my no BS attitude, and my dusty ovaries I suppose, I’ve been pretty good at deciphering whether or not someone is worth my time.
I recently started getting to know this guy, we’ll call him Ace (can you tell I’m a GG fan?). My personality is inherently inquisitive, and so I’ve been able to ask Ace OVER 340 questions (for the veracity of the article, I did count... I know), to which he’s only refused two. Granted this has been over a time span of about two months, but that’s been enough for me to make decisions, moves and thoughts. It’s also been enough for me to learn that dating is a lot more complex and interesting at my age. Asking the right questions, and even the wrong ones, have helped me understand Ace better. Expressing misunderstandings, assumptions and miscommunications has also been vital in this process. An outlook you don’t really have when you’re “in love after two days” at age 17. The way we date may be unconventional, or even unideal for most people. But at 26, I'm not trying to play games, and I can recognize a jump man from 10 miles away.
WE DON’T BELIEVE LOVE IS AN ACCOMPLISHMENT
I remember having a conversation with a friend last year where I expressed my frustrations with how society views love as the greatest accomplishment of all time. I mean, think about it. We are so quick to have engagement parties, weddings, anniversary parties and vow renewals. All of those things are beautiful and God Bless, but what about I-got-published-in-Vogue parties and I-just-finished-my-senior thesis parties? We are taught that the only things worth celebrating are tied to a traditional lifestyle.
Engaged: Check.. Party… Food… Presents..
Wedding: Check.. Party.. Food.. HELLA MONEY.. Debt...
Pregnant: Check.. Party.. Cake.. Food… Presents.. Pictures..
A cool feature or opportunity: "Congrats.. Too bad you don’t have anyone to share this moment with."
New home or apartment: “How will you afford that alone? You should really have a husband helping you with this."
The launch of a business: “Oh wow… But how will you have the time to find a husband if you’re always working?"
A promotion or huge career move: “Now that you’ve made it to a comfortable place, you should really begin to focus on the next steps for your life. Like husbands, and babies, and learning to cook.”
Vacation: You should really be saving that money for your future.
There are not as many parties or celebrations for the things that take equally just as much hard work if not more. That’s a problem. My success doesn’t need to look like your success for it to be one. The joy you get when you look at your spawn and think, “Gosh, I made that,” is the same as the joy I get when I look around and see the empire that I have created and I think, “Holy shit, I built all of this.”
Far too often I’ve spoken to mothers or wives who have expressed that they wish they would have done a lot more before those life long commitments. They wish they would have traveled, studied, seen more, done more, but the pressures of marriage and a traditional lifestyle were far too great at the time. And although they may not regret their current lives, their days would have been different were there not 1,000 aunts and grandmothers giving them recipes for a happy life.
You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen..
WE DON’T THINK THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH US
As a successful Lady Hustler who is a small business owner, nanny, and Editor-in-Chief of a publication (should I go on?), I don’t really find that there is anything wrong with me. Other than rolling my eyes a lot and sighing loudly when asked to do things I have no interest in doing. Most of us don’t think there’s anything wrong with us, and so you should probably stop trying to tell us there is.
"You’re probably just too picky and your standards are far too high.”
“Stop wearing sweatpants, and brush your hair.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t be so needy.”
Errr.. what? Being needy and having needs are two different things. Our need for adult relationships that are both fulfilling and beneficial does not qualify us as being needy or having high standards. It means that we aren’t trying to waste our time. Also, in the miraculous event that I do brush my hair ever in my life, it’s going to be because I want to. Not because I’m going to make sure I look presentable enough to attract someone.
I remember growing up and being told by several adults in my life, that you should never leave the house looking like anything but a prize. “You never know when you’ll meet your husband, and your husband isn’t going to find you attractive in those sneakers and shorts.” If I haven't met the love of my life yet, when I do meet him, I hope it’s at Walgreens while wearing my PJ’s and crying on my way to the feminine product aisle to buy Midol and tampons.
Just because our priorities, aspirations, and dreams are different from what society, family and/or friends want them to be, doesn’t mean we’re wrong. It just means where we are right now is better than where you want us to be. And where we are right now is where WE are. So I guess in short, no one really invited you anyway.