Lately talks with my mother on the phone have been filled with questions. “So, have you met anyone yet? Are there any special guys in your life?” Usually this is accompanied by a loud, exhaustive sigh from me followed by, “No, mom.”
I get it—after watching all five of my older siblings find love and procreate by the tender age of 21, she has become concerned that I might never have the opportune fortune they’ve lived through. I can almost feel her checking off the days on her calendar as it inches closer and closer to the “big birthday” for me: 25.
For goodness’ sake, she likes to remind me, that’s a quarter of a century old. I’m nearly convinced she’s mentally preparing herself to accept that I might never be married nor have children in my lifetime, a fear that, turned real, might lead both of my parents to a mental breakdown. Her worry is palpable and strong.
Sometimes I find myself wondering why it has to matter. There are people starving, after all; the matter of my love life (or lack thereof) is hardly top priority. Moreover, the planets are hurtling through space at a rate faster than we can perceive and some theorize that the whole thing might up and end itself at any second. (For more information, Google search anything related to “universe collapse,” and try not to get freaked out. Breathe calmly, that’s it. Slowly in, slowly out.)
Yet to say that companionship doesn’t matter to me (or, for that matter, my overly concerned mother) would be a lie. Sometimes it does.
Maybe the two-and-a-half years of waking up alone are getting to me, but there’s something about having a reassuring hand on your shoulder or the light weight of a well-meaning kiss on your lips. It’s something we all crave, right? Human companionship: the missing piece to our puzzle.
Why do we feel so incomplete when we’re alone? I’ll confess—most of the time I am perfectly happy to be single. I relish the freedom of personal space, and take pride in the fact that I can casually flirt with the cashier at Starbucks, then two hours later, make googly eyes at a stranger walking in the hallway and feel no guilt. It is an autonomous right all of its own, and I refuse to let it go without a struggle.
There’s no doubt about it, I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. I am growing and learning at a faster pace than I might be if I was perpetually distracted by someone else. Indeed, the period of my most growth during my longest relationship of three years was immediately after it ended.
Yet deep down, loneliness remains. Are we simply built to love and be loved? Must we always find someone to settle down with in order to make our lives complete? And what if we never do—does that suddenly make our lives less meaningful or happy? Do you have to get married or find a “forever” partner in order to feel complete?
Speaking of the universe, there is an old theory that likes to go around. It’s rumored to have started with ancient Chinese philosophy. With a bit of creative license, it goes like this: what you are content with one day, you will curse and despise the next. This theory is called the duality of nature, otherwise known as yin-yang.
There are pros and cons to everything in life, just as I know there are pros and cons to being in a relationship or being single. You cannot have a give without a take.
And that’s the way life goes.