I’m 22 years old and happily unmarried. I’m not even in an intimate relationship. I work a lot. I have plenty of friends. And my immediate family keep in touch more often than not.
My four year stint at Washington State University will end with a bachelors degree and a ton of career specific experience. Through it all I can say I’ve traveled as far as 13,000 miles across the globe, managed dozens of talented employees, and accomplished enough work to be competitive in my field.
You’d think a brief resume like that would impress anyone. But anyone is a key word there. So is unmarried in the first sentence of this post.
Unmarried is something everyone over 40 gets hung up on. Some of my peers can’t seem to hold back their shock either. This is why anyone is so important.
Anyone, as in any one person, might be impressed by who I am and what I’ve accomplished. But everyone still has their own idea of what success is. Being married, for better or worse, usually happens to be a part of that idea.
So as you can imagine, I often get asked why I’m not married and how I’m happily single.
To those questions I answer that I’m not happy, I’m joyful. And the reason I’m joyful isn’t because I’m single, but it is the reason I’m not married.
I’m joyful because I have what we all crave from relationships in general: community.
When I go to the bars, everyone knows my name. When I order coffee, everyone knows what I want. When I show up at church, everyone asks how I’m doing. When I walk across campus, people recognize who I am.
I’m not at a loss for people who know me well.
When I talk with family, we check in on each others issues. When I return home at the end of the day, my roommates ask how we can serve each other. When I show up at work, we talk about what’s wrong and what will improve. When I’m failing to learn, someone offers to teach me how to teach myself the seemingly impossible things.
I’m not at a loss for people to engage with on an intimate level.
This community keeps the longings that creep out of feeling alone, unaccomplished, overburdened, and misunderstood at bay.
It gives me the peace needed to be pleased by the blessings I live in now. It gives me the strength to recognize I don’t need a partner yet. And it gives me the patience to wait for the distant moment I begin to realize I should erase don’t and yet from that last sentence.
Before I recognized community was what I and everyone else seeks, I let impulsive emotions get the best of me.
I fell for good friends every other day. I dreamed of celebrity crushes all the time. I was regularly convinced that my friends and family were right; I really needed something straight out of a rom-com.
When I thought that way I was happily single. But happiness only lasts a couple moments. It comes and goes without warning.
Now that I lock myself in the mindset my community fuels my purpose, little gets the best of me. Thinking this way makes me joyfully single. Joy is chosen, and it doesn’t have to stop.
I’m joyful because I’m proud of the present. And, because of my community, I’ll be joyful no matter what — single or married.