At multiple points in my life, I’ve been asked what I wanted to be. It was something different every week: a gymnast, an actress, a singer, a military officer. Even as a college student, I changed my major three times (yes, three).
The “what do you want to be?” question doesn’t present itself so much anymore now that I’m 24. I guess the assumption is that I’m already in my dream career. After all, I work a regular 8-4:30 with a livable wage and I get to help people every day. I’m grateful for the ability to survive off my earnings without supplements. Many people don’t have the same luxuries.
But we all have dreams. And a traditional “career” was never mine.
Regardless of how old I was, or what job was on my mind at the time, or what I wanted to study in school, I always knew I would quit as soon as I had a family. My dream was never a career; it was falling in love, getting married, and being a mom. It’s a desire that hasn’t changed. And while I despise the “lady in waiting” trope that so many girls (especially Christian girls) are pressured to adopt, I have spent too many days grieving over this one thing I don’t have.
I want it so badly that at times I have temporarily convinced myself that this person or that person was “the one”, only for the feelings to settle and for me to realize it wasn’t a fit at all. I’m not looking for just anyone to marry and have kids with; I’m looking for my soulmate. Because as much as I want this, I would rather be alone than with the wrong person.
When I look around and see other people (especially loved ones) finding their person and having families, it warms my heart in ways I can’t describe. Because I love it so much when these dreams come true for other people, it feels selfish to ask, “Is that going to happen for me too?” Yet I find myself asking it often.
If you’re like me and you’re wondering why you still haven’t found “it” yet, I’m going to share some perspectives that I’ve learned over the short time I’ve had on earth so far. They’re not all comforting, but honestly, this isn’t a comforting line of thought in the first place. And maybe one day I’ll come back and say I was wrong about one or all of these things, but I believe these to be true:
1. I am a whole person by myself.
This one IS comforting. Finding my “other half” sounds sweet, but it’s not a reality because I am not half a person. I’m an entire person, with my own set of memories and attachments, feelings, motivations, family. I’m not isolated. I’m not “waiting” to get my life started. I live on my own with two cats, a steady job, and a routine. I travel. I spend time with my friends and sisters. If I procrastinated on starting my life because I was holding out for a significant other to do things with, I wouldn’t have made any of my adulthood memories that I have so far. My parents, sisters, and friends are some of the coolest people to hang out with, and that’s a gift.
2. There is no “formula” or “right time” to guarantee it’ll happen.
This one is so hard for me to swallow. I can’t get a degree in falling in love. There is no promise, no matter what I do or how many places I go, that I’ll run into someone and sparks will fly between us. I’ve had people (even well-meaning loved ones) tell me everything from “maybe you don’t get out enough” to “smile more” to “wear more makeup” to “wear less makeup” to “you act too confident” or “you’re not confident enough.”
It’s not that the above advice is inherently wrong. We should want to be attractive to our partner. We should try to minimize our baggage as much as possible before partnering with someone else (their job is not to fix us); but NOBODY has finished their character arc by the time they’ve met their person, or even by the time they’ve died. We’re not characters. We’re imperfect people. It might sound defeatist to say, but humans are complex and growth is not always linear. And as a Christian, this is a big part of why I need a Savior.
If everyone had to sort every imperfection before qualifying to fall in love, there would be no couples in the world. I’m not looking for perfection in someone else; I’m just looking for someone who wants to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be.
3. Dating in 2021 is ridiculous.
It’s darn near impossible to find someone who shares my ideals and convictions, considering much of what I believe doesn’t line up with society norms. For instance, relationships aren’t built to last anymore; they’re built to be flings. I’ve never been the type to say “I was born in the wrong era” except when it comes to dating. I’m not a fan of the age of Tinder, where you swipe right or left on someone’s picture like you’re ordering dinner.
I wish I could finish my thoughts in a concise way, but there isn’t a way to wrap these feelings in a pretty little box. I embrace my life as it is now while grappling with the fact that my ultimate dream has yet to come true. It’s easy for me to ruminate on the life that I want and to feel like I’m running out of time—not because I’m old (I’m very young) but because I still feel so clueless on how connections are actually made. How these lives are really built in the first place.
All I know is that when I do find my person, I pray that I can be the best person for them. And selfishly, I want to have enough time and energy left to spend the bulk of my years with them and the family that we’d create. Because right now, though I’m not in limbo, I am walking an alternate path from the one I envisioned. And it’s okay to grieve that sometimes.