This morning, as I awoke and rolled over in my single bed all alone, it occurred to me that I will turn 29 in just under 5 months. And for the first time in my life, I kinda freaked out a bit about a birthday.
Let’s backtrack a bit, shall we?
I had my life planned out. I was going to be married by 20, maybe 21. In fact, it was a standing joke among my friends that I would be the first one to be married. By 25, I would have two kids and be dreaming of a third. I’d be one half of a pair of young, cool parents.
Isn’t that what every young woman who came of age in the early 2000’s post-millenium Church, listening to the likes of Rebecca St. James (and others who will remain un-named) dreamt about?
In my early twenties (and I say that with a somewhat detached feeling of “how am I even referring to that in the past tense”), I could laugh it all off and, as I approached 25, it quickly got pushed back to a list of things I would do by the time I was 30. “Oh well, so life didn’t go quite as I had planned when I was 15. 25 is still young! I’m not even 30 yet!”
Slowly though, it began to eat away. One wedding invitation at a time.
Each one a reminder that another wedding season had come and I wasn’t the one mailing invites.
I like to say I’ve reached the “where did everyone go?” stage of single life. Trust me, it’s a thing. It’s what happens after everyone else has returned from Niagara Falls, hung up the white dress in the back corner of the closet, ordered the best prints to enclose in the handmade thank you notes, and settled into a life of Mr. and Mrs. coffee mugs on lazy Sunday mornings.
The single friend just wakes up the next morning with smeared mascara, a slight headache, sore feet from dancing the night away, and the distinct feeling that there really is a biological clock and the ticking just got louder (but that could just be the headache from last night).
And life continues on as it always does.
It’s also at this stage that the unsolicited advice and comments from others starts to get more frequent and pointed. I don’t need to know that by my age, you had bought a house and you had 3 children. What am I to do with that information, add it to my list of failures? As if I’m not already aware of what I haven’t accomplished? And thanks, but telling me I may need to lower my standards if I ever want a relationship isn’t helpful advice. And who is anyone else to tell me my standards are too high? It would seem that in this day and age, the very fact that I have standards means they’re too high. If I’m not willing to swipe right, there must be something wrong with me. The fact that I’m attracted to a certain type of man (the type who is comfortable shopping at Harry Rosen…oy, those tailored suits…), and very un-attracted to other types makes me choosy. The fact that I crave long-term romance and so much more than the 3-date sex rule makes me prudish, not desperate enough, and means I may be single forever.
Well if not wanting to jump into bed means I’ll be single forever, then pass the Chardonnay and for God’s sake, get me a cat, because hell no, this girl is definitely not desperate enough.
But it’s not that I think about it all the time, either. You reach a point where you go through stages of loving the freedom that comes with single-ness, and stages where you want to murder every happy couple you see with a pillowcase full of bricks. One day happy to make spontaneous plans for the weekend without having to think of anyone else, the next longing for someone to cuddle with to share body heat when it feels like Antarctica outside your back door. Simultaneously embracing the abundance of alone time, while secretly longing for the Mr. and Mrs. coffee mugs on Sunday morning. Living life in the meantime, while having no idea what the future holds.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Having no freaking clue what the future holds. It’s terrifying.
What I do know is that in just a few short months, I will be 29. And that scares the shit out of me.
“I think we are going to have to love ourselves. F**k.”