Normalitea: why it’s okay to be single in your 20s

When I was little, marriage was definitely a life goal. As a serial viewer of Disney princess films, the only message that was ever given out was that the (delicate and beautiful) women always end up marrying the handsome prince. My favourite of the vast selection being Beauty and the Beast, I genuinely used to attribute my attraction to moody guys to my love for this film (WTF?!). 
Catherine Entwistle.

Having just turned 24, younger me would be outraged and probably panicked at the prospect of me having not found my future husband by now. I expected that I would be married by the time I was in my late twenties and have a child before I was 30, but as I have grown older, my priorities have changed. I’ve never been in a relationship and I’ve never been on a date, which I think for someone my age is quite rare. I have plenty of male friends and have an amazing set of girlfriends but getting into a relationship has just never been a top priority for me.

As much as I like my own company, I don’t want to be alone forever. However, at this stage in my life when I’m just starting to figure out what career path I want to go down, the responsibility of a relationship is not something I want to take on at the moment. I don’t want to get caught up in someone else’s problems, triumphs and failures at the risk of not experiencing my own. That might make me sound lazy or boring, but it’s not. I’m very happy to put the time and effort into building a romantic relationship with the right guy, but now just isn’t the time for me.

I always imagined myself working for a few years, marrying someone extremely financially stable (a rich man – let’s call a spade a spade!) and then having at least four children and never having to go back to paid work. I naively dreamt of a life devoted to being a mother, a homemaker and a caregiver, financed by a loving husband. Although I would still love to have children, as I have gotten older, I’ve realised that things are not guaranteed in life and that actually, having finally found an exciting career that I am genuinely interested in pursuing, the traditional family dynamic that I once dreamed of is no longer a target.

I view having children as something that will happen if and when it happens, and preferably when I am in a position of independent financial stability. I would love one day to find a man who respects and loves me, but I currently don’t feel the need to settle for something that doesn’t work for me and certainly no longer wish to be financially dependent on someone else.

Never are we taught that you don’t have to get married and never are we told that you don’t have to have children. Both are viewed as rights of passages and markers of success for women.

Catherine Entwistle

Never are we taught that you don’t have to get married and never are we told that you don’t have to have children. Both are viewed as rights of passages and markers of success for women. In a rapidly changing world, more of us are questioning whether we really want these things or whether we want them because that’s what society tells us we want. Never would I have imagined that I would consider not getting married, even when I’ve found someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.

But in the last few years I have begun to view this aspect of life very differently. For example, in the past, I fantasised about a big no-expense-spared wedding, but now I view it as a waste of money and would much rather spend it on a big holiday or put it towards a deposit on my first property (if I ever get there). I don’t judge people who do have lavish weddings; I think it’s important to respect different people’s wishes and choices. I also don’t judge people who are single or in relationships or who are married. There is no right or wrong answer, as long as you are content in your situation and that it’s genuinely what you want.

I understand it’s a topic of conversation and an area of interest, but it leads to presumptions that the love-less person is unhappy or unfulfilled, when actually this may not be the case.

Catherine Entwistle

Meeting up with friends I haven’t seen in a while usually involves questions such as “how’s your love life?” or “any men on the scene?” to which the answer has always been negative. I understand it’s a topic of conversation and an area of interest, but it leads to presumptions that the love-less person is unhappy or unfulfilled, when actually this may not be the case. Thirty years ago, if you weren’t married by 30, you afforded yourself the label of being “left on the shelf,” like you were some kind of old stock that couldn’t be flogged. Nowadays, I think the viewpoint is changing on this, and the way most people spend these high-energy years of their lives is different. Older generations will still wonder why you haven’t been swept off your feet by now, but they have a lesser understanding of the many different ways people can live their lives in the 21st century.

If you’ve never been in a relationship or have been single for a while and are wondering, “is this normal?” the resounding answer is of course yes! Too much self-reflection and doubt can cause unnecessary anxiety and worry over something that doesn’t need it. It can be difficult seeing your friends coupling up and settling down in their 20s, and it’s easy to feel left out and alone. But being single comes with its’ own set of advantages and joys. It allows you to pursue your goals with freedom and intention and gives you the opportunity to invest in yourself before you invest in someone else. Make the most of your 20s as a single lady and rewrite the narrative.

This article was written by one of our inspiring contributors from our communitea. If you would like to get involved with Spill the Tea, please reach out here, on Facebook/Instagram or contact me on: h.margerrison@newcastle.ac.uk. We are an open and accepting communitea and love to hear from a range of voices.

Featured image: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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