Me Before You - The Millennial Motto to Singleness

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Avatar for thehappinessequation
2 years ago
Mm hmm.

It’s Valentine’s Day today, and whilst I’ve had a pretty lovely day indoors passing treats and wishes to girlfriends around me, I can’t help but take a pause and wonder if I’m missing out on anything by choosing to remain single. I must admit, I don’t have any desire to date or be married, I’m actually really happy right now. But I suppose on days like this, you can’t help but wonder and imagine, and it’s taken me down this rabbit hole of thoughts and conclusions, so journey with me and maybe it’ll give you some pause for thought too. 

What I think it boils down to is expectation. How I was raised, the stories, movies, people I grew up with,…it all pointed to centring your life around success: - studies, job, partner, children, grandchildren, death. That’s it, that’s life and however messy, plot twist-y, unconventional the situation was…that was the bottom line. That’s what happiness, fulfilment, wholeness,…just everything about life, that’s what it was supposed to have. Think of 90s or 00s movies, songs, celebrities,…I really can’t think of many that celebrate singleness and inspire its audience to consider that as a path in life. Don’t even get me started with Disney! I love Disney, but my goodness what on earth did I grow up with? It’s not until movies like Frozen and Moana that I could slowly say to myself “Hey, that’s me, I’m like her…” Now that I’m older, wiser and more “woke”, I’m definitely questioning these norms more. Why do I have to cross/climb/run/jump/fly/swim past each stage in life to get to a checkpoint of standard expectation, pass it, then only be considered a success? Who is judging if I’ve passed or failed? Why are they judging me? When do I get to stop and ask “Why am I in this race? I don’t even like sports….” 

Our family is a huge part of this whole expectation thing. And the people who have raised you are your role models, the standard you live up to. They place so much hope and trust in you to make the right choices and to live a good life, and we as children never want to disappoint. Throw cultural ties and religious beliefs and you can be stuck in a pretty tight and thick cycle that is so damn impossible to break. Generation after generation of unattainable, unreasonable and (sometimes) toxic expectation. We’ve been raised to fit a mould and however near or far we stray from it, the mould never changes, we’re the ones expected to. 

I do however think there is hope, me being one of them. I have many girlfriends around me who thrive in single-dom. We don’t compare ourselves with other girls, don’t conform when we get judged and we celebrate our friends who are in relationships. I think those are the signs that you’re truly happy and fulfilled on your own. I though, have had to break my family generational cycle of expectations to some extent to get to this place of contentment. Doing things like:

-Having honest and clear conversations (not discussions) with my mum about not wanting to get married (this has not be taken lightly or easily but I’ve stuck to my guns in a calm and collective manner)

-Surrounding myself with friends, whom my mum know too, so that my life isn’t a mystery and she knows I am happy (my mum watches way too much Indian dramas, and she always imagines me in every plot twist, so being clear about how boring and chilled my life is kills those assumptions)

-Selectively showing face at family social events (if I know certain relatives are toxic, rude and judgemental, I have nothing to say or receive from them-so I don’t see them)

Just from doing these, being single has honestly been that much easier. It’s sad that people (family, society) can’t just accept it and move on, but it’s a battle that generations in the future can tackle with the chance of winning. For now, it’s an act of balancing expectation for my own happiness. I think “fighting” for this sense of freedom makes it all the more worth it, and silences the quiet moments of doubt. I know I come off selfish, rude and entitled, but I don’t care. I’m putting myself before you (them) and breaking a cycle of expectation because I can. There’s a price, sometimes a big big price to pay, especially if I decide to never have children (I really don’t want kids right now), but that shouldn’t be a shameful thing. You shouldn’t feel sorry for me or take pity on me thinking that I’ve missed out. Don’t set me up for dates, be happy for me and envy the chilled life I have! I love my space, and I share it with many friends, but ultimately the space I have, I want for myself. It’s enough just for me and it’s what keeps me the happiest and most content. Does that sound selfish? I wouldn’t know how else best to explain it. My hope is that the generations after me see people like me and take comfort in the fact that this is an option that they can opt for easily. And they can reinvent expectations of growing up and allow for people to put happiness rather than success as the standard for life. 

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Avatar for thehappinessequation
2 years ago