*Disclaimer on this one. Please stick with it all the way to the end. It gets better, I promise.*
Frustrated. I feel…frustrated.
What defines me? What makes me, well, me? When people talk about me, as in, they mention they know me or some other capacity (not dwelling on people talking about me, I promise. Because that doesn’t matter), what do they say? What lasting impression do I leave?
Kind, good baker, smart, good listener, determined, organized, respectful. Single.
Single. That’s the one I hate. Single. It seems to ignore all of my other attributes. And I hate that. It seems no matter what I do, how many great things I accomplish, the one thing that always sticks is…single. Why is that? It’s infuriating to me. What happened to me being Mary? Just Mary and that being okay?
It’s as if I can’t really accomplish anything until I’m no longer single. And that’s simply not true.
I think I’ll just join a convent and get it over with. Maybe that way, I won’t feel this weird shame or pressure or anything at being 25 and not even dating anyone.
Let’s have a little heart to heart right now. I am 25, I have my entire life ahead of me. I have a young career, I graduated from college, I just bought a car. All of these things, I did by my single self. But, on the other hand, I am 25. I live in Utah. I am a Mormon. Although that will never change, I will always be a Mormon because I live the doctrine and cannot even being to explain the happiness that it brings me, there is a weird culture around getting married. At 25, I feel like I’m starting to get past that prime. I hate that feeling. I’m still just a baby. And yet…this culture, and the pressure that comes with it completely petrifies me sometimes. I’m worried I’ll get past that “prime” and then there won’t be any hope for me. I’m afraid there might be some truth to it. Now, the secret is, I’ve been afraid of this pretty much since I started college. I’ve always been weirdly afraid that it will always be me, myself, and I, that I will never get married. And that is a complete shame, because I’m sure that this means there is an entire list of things I’m missing out on. It’s not that this fear completely stops me from going out and doing fun things, it’s more that in the back of my mind, I think, “This would be a lot of fun with a significant other…too bad that will never happen.” Because I’m 25 and to that point. “That will never happen”…”Everyone else will get married and I will just be me”…”Maybe someday, I’ll get a fish or something”. It’s a vicious cycle of self-loathing. Because clearly, it’s not anything wrong with the people I hang out with, it’s everything to do with me. I’m not something enough. It’s starting to feel I never will be enough. Because the only explanation I have as to why I am not yet married is I’m not *vague hand gestures at the entire universe* whatever enough. There is something wrong with me, that’s the only explanation that I have and because it is, whether it is actually true or not, it has to be the truth.
(Now, this ignores quite a big fact that maybe it isn’t the right time, that I need to have patience in the timing of the Lord. After all, I did just say I am a Mormon and that will never change, so why am I not practicing what I preach? Like I said from the beginning, stick with me on this one.)
The perspective I seem to meet more often than not is the “single” perspective. “Look at all of the things I am lacking because I am not married.” It could never be, “Look at all of the things I am gaining while I am not married that will help me when I do get to that stage in my life.”
Today at church, we talked about how being in the YSA program is hard, and how being single is hard. (Well, thanks for that one. Funnily enough, I knew that already.) This was in a meeting before church even started.
Then. In relief society, the teacher got up and announced that she was going to be teaching the lesson on marriage. I immediately and half involuntarily groaned. I had been struggling with this whole concept for the past week and a half, and now I had to sit through a lesson where the teacher would give some fluffy, “You ladies are worth something, I promise! There is someone out there for you! It’s going to be okay!” All while sounding weirdly fake about it.
But. The Lord answers prayers, I suppose. The teacher got up, and yes, she mentioned all of those things, but it was all brief. She had a different focus of her lesson. Her main takeaway was: Love is real, get married in the temple, don’t settle for anything less than that, and we are gaining things in our single lives that will only be beneficial in our married lives. I hadn’t really had it taught to me like that before. I had heard it, yes of course, but I hadn’t had it explained in a classroom setting to me like that before. It was incredibly refreshing for a few reasons:
- I didn’t have to sit through another, “Your knight in shining armor is out there, ladies, just hold on!” lesson.
- It was real life. It was applicable right now.
- It was, and this sounds corny, a bit of an answer to all of my (sometimes tearful) pleadings with the Lord. All of my prayers that were just me asking again and again when I could expect my status to change and asking for just one more day of patience or one more day of knowing that it is okay that I’m not married yet, one more day of hope.
- The teacher had us turn to each other and tell each other things we liked about ourselves and things we have had to overcome. This made me remember a thing or two I had learned. That when I get married, that is not the end all, be all to all of my problems. Some of my problems will be easier to overcome when I get married, some will be harder. Some will no longer be relevant, and some don’t exist now, but will then. It made me realize that I have to love myself when I live with another person. That other person will love me, probably more than I will realize, but I also have to love myself and all of the things I have accomplished and all of my own shortcomings.
- It was comforting. This year, all of the lessons have come from the Gordon B. Hinckley manual. When I found out he was this year’s focus, I was so excited. I remember Gordon B. Hinckley as such a man of great gentleness and kindness. This lesson, on marriage, from his perspective was just that. And I loved it.
Here is what he said to the people who aren’t yet married who would read his lesson. I just sort of stared at it as I read it. Not just stared at it as if it were hitting me over the head, not any sort of epiphany, but more in the way that the Lord is aware of me. Not just aware, but He shares in my grief and my fears. He loves me. These are not just words, I really do believe it.A friend of mine gave me a blessing this past week. Because I had been having a rough time with this, and a rough time with the whole self-worth concept, and a rough time at work. In this blessing, he told me that the Lord is aware of my trials and of my successes. I heard it, thought it was a little odd to actually call out my successes, then after the fact, kept thinking about it. This lesson at church today helped me realize it was an answer to my prayers, and a bit of fulfillment of the blessing I received. Part of me knows that the Lord is aware of me, and wants my happiness only, but I forget it sometimes. Sometimes the little reminders, or big reminders, are incredibly helpful and just what I need.
Okay, let’s have a little heart to heart again. I started this post last Monday, while I was sitting at my desk, frustrated and bored, so a lot of it was running through my mind and festering. I started to write and I knew it wouldn’t be happy. I was ready to just throw in the towel and I knew I would become so so bitter on the way. However, as I got further removed from the weekend that had caused me so much frustration, I began to realize that there was a lot of “woe is me” and anger in this. So, in a sense, I am glad I got over myself. Am I still scared I’ll be forever alone? Yes, I am. But do I now know that I need to be patient and trust in my Heavenly Father? Yes, I know that too. I knew that before, but you know what I mean. I know that I can go to Him in prayer, and tell Him how much I am scared by this, and then leave it up to Him. I can walk away from my problems, for the time being, if I but give them to Him and my Savior.
Will I need to learn this lesson again? Definitely. But hopefully, it won’t be to this extent. Hopefully I have more trust in the knowledge of the perfect love that my Father in Heaven has for me.
For the time being, I will have to live with the label of being single. The YSA program labels me as such. Tax forms label me as such. A lot of different places label me as such. But letting this minuscule fact of my life define me? No, not going to happen. Because there is a whole slew of things I have accomplished by myself, and probably a whole slew more I will accomplish. I am a great person still, and the fact that I am single does not diminish the impact I can make on the people around me and the rest of my environment, nor does it diminish any of my life I’ve lived thus far.
Besides, when have labels actually truly defined something?
told you it would get better. thanks for sticking around to the end.