I’ve been pressured lately.
Really, it’s a joint effort; society and family and even me, myself, have all been heaping this pressure on my shoulders; many of my family members may not even realize what they’re doing, but when you look at my track record, I guess it’s not surprising.
I’m twenty-two and unmarried, twenty-two and not even in a relationship, and I guess that’s unusual in the circles I frequent. I’ve never kissed anyone, never done anything more than hold hands, and I’m so inexperienced in the idea of love that I’m not even sure how to recognize it anymore. The last time I was in love with someone, he broke up with me over the phone at the start of my sophomore year of college because he “wasn’t ready for a serious relationship”. This was after eight months and discussions of marriage.
I’m still kind of bitter about that.
He did contact me recently, though, and apologized. I accepted his apology and forgave him, but we’re not friends, and I deleted his message afterwards; he’s no longer a part of my life. Still—and this is a begrudging admission—I don’t think I’ve loved anyone since him.
This is not only a begrudging admission, but a sad one, because I’ve been in other relationships since then. Three, in fact. The first lasted barely a week; the second lasted a little over a month in which I discovered he was incredibly emotionally abusive; and the last was a month-and-a-half.
Do you see a pattern here?
I haven’t been in a solid relationship since the last one I truly loved (the one who suddenly decided he wasn’t ready) and, honestly, I don’t think I’m meant to be in a relationship right now. I discovered after the second and third relationships mentioned above that I am quite fine with being single. I don’t think I’m going to fall in love or get married within the next few years, but I’m okay with that when I really think about it.
Romance has exhausted me, and I’m tired of viewing people as potential relationships (often without meaning to) when we first meet. I want to view them as just people, and I want to stop caring about falling in love and just let it happen.
Back to the pressures I mentioned earlier, however, and the impetus for this post. Yesterday, I downloaded a dating app—OkCupid—because I was feeling that pressure. I filled out the profile, answered a bunch of questions, and found a few matches. We chatted, I flirted, and then I realized I wasn’t into it. I felt robotic, forced. Every time someone liked my profile or sent me a message, I wasn’t excited or happy or anything; I was just kind of apathetic.
My self-pressuring, however, didn’t end there.
I tried to go on a date a few days ago. The guy was really nice, and we had a good time. He paid for my dinner, opened the door for me, and made casual conversation as we sat in the theater waiting for the movie we’d decided to see—Wish Upon—to start. By that point, though, I realized I wasn’t into the date. I’d enjoyed getting dressed up and going out, but I realized I had no interest in furthering any sort of relationship with the guy. I felt awful, like I’d used him.
Afterwards, I thanked him and told him truthfully that I didn’t see us going anywhere. He thanked me for being upfront, and we parted with somewhat sad smiles on our faces. Guilt overcame me as I climbed into my car and set the GPS for Draper Mountain.
As I began the drive back home, however, an odd feeling began to well up in my chest, washing away the guilt like a high tide. I screamed-sang to “Wataridori” by ALXD, and as my exhilaration piqued in tune to the loud music and empty midnight road stretched before me, I realized it was because I was okay with just being alone for the present.
Scratch that, I was more than okay; I was ecstatic.
I discovered this poem recently called “How to Be Alone”, written by a lovely lady named Tanya Davis. A particular line of the poem struck me when I read it, and I will share it below. The full poem can be read/watched here.
“Society is afraid of alone though.
Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements.
Like people must have problems if, after a while,
nobody is dating them.
But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless,
and lonely is healing if you make it.”
I didn’t realize how much I needed that assurance, for someone else to tell me it was okay to be alone for a little while. Technically, I already knew it, but having another say the same thing I’d been thinking reinforced the idea that it truly was okay to enjoy solitude, that it didn’t make me weird or broken, just comfortable within my own head.
So I’m here now, writing this post on my bed. In a bit, I’m planning to start writing an idea that came to me during my drive home from work, one that starts with the sentence “this is not a ghost story”. After that, maybe I’ll play Overwatch with some friends, maybe I’ll watch a movie by myself (I’ve been contemplating a trip to the theater on my own, because I’ve heard it’s magical), or maybe I’ll play with my snake or read a book or color while watching weird YouTube videos. Maybe I’ll take a walk. Maybe I’ll do whatever I want, because I can, and because my only obligations right now are my own.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop unconsciously pressuring myself to be in a relationship, because that’s not what I need right now.
Societal expectations be damned.