Me, myself and I

Photo courtesy: Dejania Oliver

At 21-years-old, I thought I would have experienced love by now.

Relationships and love have always intrigued me. Every time one of my family members introduced their new partner, or one of my friends would tell me they’re dating someone, I would be fascinated. What did that feel like? What did that look like?

I, and nearly half the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau, have chosen to be single. However, in my case being single hasn’t been much of a choice, but more so a forced necessity because of my insecurities.

I grew up never being comfortable in my own skin. I would wear clothes two sizes too big and try to hide myself, hoping no one would notice that I was “bigger” than other kids.

Being plus-size in our society is like a beacon calling all of the mean and selfish people of the world who join each other in tearing you down. I’ve gotten comments about my weight all of my life, and that trauma has manifested in my love life.

I can’t help but think anytime I am interested in someone, they will reject me because of my size.

When I was in high school, it was a debilitating insecurity that affected how I spoke and interacted with potential partners. I shut down even the slightest possibility that someone was interested in me because I had already convinced myself they would never be attracted to me. Even now, sometimes that feeling persists.

Along with my confidence, my mental health journey has caused a pause in my love life.

One in five U.S. adults experience a mental illness, a sad truth that applies to me. I was diagnosed with chronic depression when I was 12, and it’s been an ongoing issue I deal with. When I am in a depressive episode, which was more frequent when I was younger, I would shut everything out and hole up in my room. Now, that has manifested into a love of being alone.

I feel most at peace when I am by myself. It is when I can think clearly and process how I am feeling. When you’re in a relationship, your space becomes someone else’s and I don’t know if I can sacrifice that. I find solace in solitude and I am not ready to give that up.

Being that I am young and still learning, my priorities align with my single status. Many young people have decided not to be in romantic relationships, a group of people that has increased. About three-in-ten women ages 18 to 29 are single as of 2020. Many of us have decided to not follow in the footsteps of generations before us. Women were married and had children young because they were told to value building a family, and now a new generation has decided we want more for ourselves than to be someone’s wife/husband.

No longer are girls feeling pressured by society to have “Mrs.” attached to our name. While being in a relationship does not necessarily mean putting your goals on hold, it can affect how you get them accomplished.

As someone who has put all their energy into making sure I have a successful future, I don’t want to be in a position where I feel I have to compromise my goals for someone else.

Every year, I grow and learn. While I may not carry the same emotional baggage about my weight and depression, compared to my high school self, I do still live with the after effects of it. I am on the path to healing but it takes time, and it’s a path I can rely only on myself as I move forward.

Being alone isn’t scary to me, nor sad, just like never having experienced a relationship isn’t something I am ashamed of. One day I will fall in love and feel what my friends and family have felt, but that day is just not today.

And I’m okay with that.