“You’ll make a beautiful bride.”
With this one sentence I found myself caught like a deer in the headlights, en route to an unnecessary—and somewhat misguided—reality check from a stranger.
While you might think it sounds like a compliment, a backhand quickly followed.
After dishing out advice on what NOT to wear if I walk down the aisle (no strapless, sweetheart-necklines with an embellished bodice … apparently that look is so 2007), this matrimonial-focused stranger asked my age.
“I’m 31 next month,” I replied, causing her to practically choke on her canapé.
“The average age for brides is 29,” she spluttered, horrified that I had let an extra 24 months slip past without securing myself a groom and a happy ever after with 2.4 kids and a house with a white picket fence.
Apparently, without realising it, I had passed my prime.
Once again, my marital status had hijacked a conversation; I’ve had dinners disrupted with offers of blind dates, psycho-analysis performed over pancakes and been told I was too choosy over coffee.
Unfortunately, common decency means I rarely respond with the two word, seven letter phrase I’d often like to use.
Instead, I smile and nod while thinking about where to take my next overseas holiday or whether to splurge on a new leather jacket or Marc Jacobs handbag.
Then I go home to my single-girl apartment and do whatever the hell I like.
I watch back-to-back episodes of Law & Order SVU for eight hours, dance around my lounge room to Nikki Minaj at 7am in the morning and drink milk straight out of the bottle (not that I do … often).
New York University Professor of Sociology Eric Klinenberg (author of Going Solo – The Extraordinary Rise and
Surprising Appeal of Living Alone) claims the majority of people who live alone are actually more socially active with friends and neighbours than their married counterparts.
So what does it matter if my life occasionally resembles a Taylor Swift song? Or if I have moments where I seem to be the romantically-challenged lovechild of Bridget Jones and Nina from Offspring?
I am enough. Just the way I am (thanks Mark Darcy).
I have a great job working for an organisation I believe in. I pay my bills on time. I have lived overseas and lived on my own. I have travelled extensively and continue to do so.
I donate to charity. I vote and I fish. My friends trust me to babysit their children and help plan their weddings. I am impulsive and spontaneous and have been known to rearrange holiday plans and cancel flights at the last minute. I cut my own fringe.
At school I danced to Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract in the talent quest. Twice. And I won a bottle of champagne in a New Year’s Eve limbo competition when I was 17. I learned the hard way not to say yes to a date with someone you don’t know/like and I discovered that sometimes love isn’t enough.
And, yes, I did once break up with someone because their laugh annoyed me, but that doesn’t make me picky, it just means I can’t fathom a life without Rebel Wilson and Will Ferrel movies.
“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”
—Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City—
Maybe I’m waiting for Ryan Gosling to come along and sweep me off my feet or maybe—and this is shocking, I know—I’m not waiting at all. I’m out there living my life, one glorious diaster after the next.
I’m okay with not knowing what or who is around the next corner … perhaps it will be someone who finds my weirdness endearing and wants to fly his freak flag and join in my crazy adventures or perhaps it will just be a kickass pair of shoes from Dubai.
But what I do know is that I don’t need some random stranger—or even a well-meaning friend—pushing their expectations onto me and trying to make me doubt my choices. Because I am enough.
So please stop asking me why I’m single because, if I’m honest, the answer might offend you.