My name is Grace. I’m 22 years old. I graduated from college this past May. And, oh yeah, I’m single and have been for basically my entire life. There’s been the odd date here or there, but I’ve never been in a relationship. And there’s nothing wrong with me.
When I tell people this, it’s often followed up with the well-meaning “your person is coming” or “one day you’ll find the one you’re meant to be with.” These sentiments are meant to be encouraging. However, what these messages really say is that there is something wrong with me being single. That me being single is something that has to be fixed. Sitting in my singleness is not okay, I need to be waiting for the knight in shining armor to come and then, my life will have meaning. I will have meaning as a person but not yet, I need to wait for my person to come.
It’s not only my friends and family telling me these things, but all sorts of entertainment. Romantic comedies have always been one of my genres of film, television, and recently I’ve discovered that they exist in book form. They all have the same message: one day, you’ll meet someone and it will all make sense. But you have to wait.
These sentiments have meant that I’ve spent most of my life waiting. Waiting for the person I’m supposed to be with come because everyone has told me that they are coming. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting through the last years of high school because I was sure this person that people, known to me and in media, told me would be in college. Waiting through my first year of college, then my second, then my third, then my last year. Feeling that there was something wrong with me, because this person that everyone told me was coming wasn’t showing up. “Where was he?” I thought constantly. Every male that I met was the elusive person that I was sure what coming for me. But he never came. I was so patient, but he never came.
I was not just waiting for a person to come and sweep me off my feet. I was waiting for the person I would become once I was in a relationship. I would be whole and completely, and most of all, I would be worthy. Worthy of being a 22 year old woman.
I’ve sat through my entire post-college summer, getting ready for my first adult job, stewing over the fact that HE NEVER CAME. And how could the universe do this to me? Everyone is telling me that this person is coming but he’s not here and so what is wrong with me.
But here’s what I’ve come to realize: he doesn’t have to come. I am a whole and complete person with or without being in a relationship. Even if he never comes, that doesn’t make me less than my peers who have been in multiple relationships. There’s nothing in me to be fixed because someone has never asked me to be his girlfriend. My worth as a woman is not based on my relationship status. My worth is inherent in me by being a person. No person’s worth is based off how many relationships they have or haven’t been in.
And placing worth on romantic relationships isn’t healthy. I can’t be in a relationship just so I’m not single. There’s the saying that when you give someone a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When I look at every man I meet as a potential partner, every man is going to look like the person everyone has promised me is coming. That doesn’t seem like the beginning of a healthy relationship with someone or a healthy relationship with myself.
None of this is to say I’m not still waiting or that I’ve totally given up on being in a relationship. I still want to be in a relationship. I wish I had someone who was more than my friend to share things with. I find myself feeling like I’m behind my friends. I feel like I’m missing out on some important experience. And maybe in some ways I am. But that doesn’t mean that I have to sit around waiting for an imaginary man to come and make me worthy. I can wait for him, but meeting him won’t make me worthy. Because I already am.
Also published on Medium.