As I write, my sister is starting a wood fire in our get-away-home in Cape Breton. Tonight, we plan on cozying up with a warm meal, dark chocolate and a movie – something with Dennis Hopper.
I am 24 years old, an age with ambiguous expectations. By Canadian standards, I am not expected to be married, nor am I considered too young for it. I can choose what I do and where I go. Taking a hold of this freedom, I am choosing to be single at the moment.
Many of my acquaintances do not understand this notion, writing off my choice as if I simply can’t find someone to date. They appear back into my life only when I have a boyfriend, inquiring about him and gushing over the first date details. In these situations, I feel they like my boyfriend more than I do.
There is more to your twenties than finding a partner and as my dear mother always tells me, “Strive to be the best version of yourself.” Through this lens, I understand Gloria Steinem when she says, “Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person.”
My acquaintances suggest that my career as a writer and my ample travel experiences are merely a way to bide my time, like a stepping-stone, or distraction from meeting my “other half.” In a stark contrast, I believe because I have been single for most of my adult life, I have been able to accomplish all I have. Not only that, but I have been able to allow these experiences to positively enrich and shape me while building memories.
On the other hand, another chunk of my acquaintances share my mindset. My friend Bernadette put into words one thing we can all agree on: “I think one of the perks of being single is that you can develop and grow without the pressure of someone influencing that.”
As for my sister, Paulette, with pencil in hand and architectural sketches in front of her, she says:
“The time I spent single in my adult life, I developed my priorities, defined who I am and pursued my interests. I can’t imagine dating without having that time to myself. I think it’s important to prioritize and fully experience each phase of your life, so you draw it to completion without wanting to go back and live something that was lost.”
In my journal the other night, I wrote: “I am basking in life’s treats right now, not wanting the sweetness to fade. I anticipate two parts of my life – my near future and my old age – times when I can sip tea with friends and talk about all the memories we are making.”
While writing this, it dawned on me that these two stages in my life do not necessarily encompass someone by my side. I’m complete and full of vitality – like Tolstoy’s War & Peace, with all of the struggle, the love and the growth. It doesn’t need a sequel, because it is good enough on its own.
There is nothing wrong with relationships, unless you are stuck in an unhealthy one. It comes down to living your life thoroughly, in a way that makes you peaceful while striving to be a good person. Being in a relationship shouldn’t threaten this existence, but instead be a continuation of it.
I can never relate to those who fear being alone. Maybe it’s because I am a reclusive writer, or come from a big family or relish my alone time. I utilize swaths of solitude to relax, read, learn and write. I believe by being single, you learn to become your own source of validation. You have time to do what you love and strengthen your tolerances, your voice and confidence. Time alone helps you cultivate yourself and not to mention, it is a lot of fun.
I do not want to demean relationships, because relationships can be a beautiful experience. I do, however, question people who spend their entire single life looking for a relationship.
Making memories with someone else is lovely, but making memories on your own will be what makes your 80-year-old self look back and proudly smirk with a twinkle in your eye.