This originally appeared on Mamamia. Republished here with permission.
Whenever I run into old friends, family members, or associates I haven’t seen in a certain amount of time, we both obviously have a keen interest to know what the other has been up to.
My queries are of a general nature—I like to give them the opportunity to choose what details to divulge. “What have you been doing?” “Anything new in your life?”
So why don’t people extend the same courtesy to me? Forget questions about how I am coming along in my Italian language lessons. Don’t bother asking how my recent trip around Europe turned out. I recently graduated with a Master’s degree but apparently that is not that interesting. No, no, no, instead they jump right into that one personal and considered “meaningful question”: Have you got a boyfriend yet?
Why is this the first question on everyone’s lips? Why is it that when I reply “No,” I get the head tilt, the pitied eyes, and the sad smile. “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone.” Um, did I say I was worried? Do I look worried? Does it seem to you that I am so despondent by not having a boyfriend that I cannot function?
My single status is a choice, not a mutant string of leprosy. Aside from the obvious annoyance at being pitied for something that is my choice, I am often left wondering why, in a post-feminist world, my personal and academic achievements are constantly being overlooked for something as trivial as whether or not I have someone to share the cooking, the laundry, and the household bills with.
Is the only time we single ladies can be celebrated aloud when Beyonce sings about us? Stand in the middle of a crowded dance-floor when that song plays and we all proudly “put our hands up.” But as soon as the lights come back on, all of the attached women lower their arms from a triumphant fist pump into a mocking point.
So why the focus on partnership? People argue that it is an inherent part of humanity. Plato wrote that according to Greek mythology, humans were initially created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces and, fearing their power, the god Zeus split them in two, condemning them to spend their lives searching for their other half.
However, if you believe Greek mythology then you believe that Zeus was married to his sister, Hera, and when mistresses gave birth to his illegitimate children, he would turn those babies into animals so Hera wouldn’t find out about his infidelity. Forgive me if I roll my eyes and exhale a breath of derision.
I am not averse to having a boyfriend or falling in love or even to marriage. I do not hate people in relationships nor proclaim that I will be forever single.
However, I am averse to people thinking my priority should be finding the man to fill out the tux so I can wear that celebrated white gown. I am averse to people thinking I am not complete if I don’t have that ring on my finger. I am averse to people overlooking my personal achievements and regarding them as something to “fill in the time” while I wait to be swept off my feet.
I loved being a part of my brother’s wedding and being a bridesmaid for my best friend. I squealed with excitement when another friend recently called to tell me of her engagement. If I happen to fall in love and get married, it will undoubtedly be one of the happiest times of my life.
But I am not actively looking for a relationship. I am however planning my next two overseas trips. Having recently graduated with a Master of Education degree, I am now looking into doing a diploma of business management. Or perhaps a diploma in communications.
I am becoming quite confident in speaking Italian and have learned over 700 words and phrases in the short time I have been studying. I am teaching five English classes at a local high school and am dedicated to ensuring my students are well equipped to survive until graduation. I am redecorating my home. I am dedicated to becoming the most accomplished woman I can be.
So, does it look like I am worried to you? I’m not worried. I’m free. In fact, I am footloose and fancy free.
Kimberley is a secondary English and Drama teacher and a travel enthusiast.