I am just barely into my 28th year of life and I am single.
That’s not a rare statement, a sad statement or a statement that makes me all that unique. But, throw that statement around in the South in a community of predominantly Christian people and it becomes rare, sad and unique.
All at once your eyes meet those of someone else who might be married (let’s be honest, it’s likely they are) and you can see the wheels turning. You can tell they are sad, confused… weirded out, even. But, why? I didn’t say, “I’m 28, single AND I’ve never known love. I have no family, no friends. All of my food comes frozen in a box and my television is always on Lifetime.” So, why? Why the horror?
Lately, I’ve noticed that when I meet new people the first thing they ask me is not what I do for a living or where I am from or went to school, but, “are you married?” As if the answer to that question is going to give them any insight into my personality or soul. As if the answer to that question defines who I am as a person or can explain to them why I think I am even on this Earth in the first place.
I’ve never met anyone who’s said, “Hey! I’m married!” and thought now, this is a gUrl I want to be friends with! That statement tells me one thing and one thing only: you have found a person who has committed their life to you. I guess I could infer that you probably spend most of your evenings with that person and that your holiday schedules often produce stressful situations, where mine typically do not. My holiday time is split between the dinner table and the couch/a marathon of some crime show like Law & Order or Criminal Minds, which actually can be somewhat stressful, so there’s that.
I guess I just don’t understand why people ask that question before any other question. I would like to think that the question-asker saw me, thought DAY-UM, my son/brother/cousin/co-worker would love her, I must find out if she’s married, but I’m afraid that’s never the case. People just ask the question and look at me as if I told them the saddest story they have ever heard or like we suddenly have nothing to talk about.
Here’s some breaking news: being single and 28-years-old is not the saddest story ever. I mean, it’s not the most thrilling story ever, either, but it works.
I lead a happy, joyful life. I have friends—some of them are even married. I have a job that I enjoy. I pay my own bills. I do my own taxes. I take my car in for routine maintenance. I do all of these things on my own and they have never once caused me to think I am worthless or sad. I mean, I have definitely thought my husband is so going to take over vacuuming out this car. And I’ve even thought I so cannot wait for someone else to cook the bacon on a Saturday morning. But, that’s about it.
Maybe I am unique because when I went to college I went with the intention of getting an education and graduating. I graduated without a ring on my finger. I accomplished one goal, so I moved on to another: get a job; get off The Reg’s bankroll. I did that without a ring on my finger, so I set other goals. This pattern has continued. Is it that weird that a goal of mine isn’t marriage? Is it weird that to me marriage is something I hope for and pray for, but not something I’ve ever had on a to-do list? Is it weird that with each year that passes I continue to set other goals for myself and continue to live what I consider to be a normal, fulfilling life? Maybe that is sad to some people?
I think it should be noted that when I answer your marriage question with a strong, “no” that’s not the time to say, “Well, why not?” People! Come on! I am not in charge of this thing. If it were up to me I would’ve married a former youth minister turned millionaire at least two years ago.
[An aside: I also love when the marriage question is followed by the dating question and it gets real awkward real fast, so I always say, “Well, there was this boy…” when in reality there was a boy, like two years ago. Or in actuality I have a crush on some boy’s Facebook profile, so I just pretend there was this boy in order to make the person think I’m normal.]
Let’s also get out there that I love married people. I love people who long to get married and aren’t married. I love that people got married at 19. I am not a hater of the covenant between two people committed to splitting the cooking and doing the dishes.
I’m just a hater of the people who refuse to believe that life can be lived and people can be happy without someone around to help fold the towels.
This isn’t a cry for help. It’s more of a plea for a person to quit looking at me like being single is a choice and marriage is a right.
It’s not and it’s not.
Reaching out: If you think you may be one of those people who do this, I’m here to help.
You can talk to single people about ALL kinds of different things. You can ask where they grew up, where they live, etc.; you can compliment them on their hair or outfit and follow that up by asking them where they bought the outfit or where they get their hair cut. If you live in Dallas you can almost always say, “How about them Cowboys?” Depending on the week and the previous game, you need to ask the question with excitement or by rolling your eyes.
Other topics that are always transferable between singles and marrieds: puppies, baking, wine, coffee, traffic, Apple products, shoes, airport security, books, the Kardashians, YouTube videos, the Today Show, good restaurants and birthdays.