Settling can mean a lot of things. Maybe you’re a pilgrim, you discovered the new world, and now you’re going to colonize it – I don’t know. Since it’s not 1620, I’m just going to go ahead and say that doesn’t seem likely. As a single twenty-something, to settle means something entirely different; it means deciding to give a piece of yourself and your very precious life to someone who may not deserve it. Maybe you got sick of snuggling your body pillow, had a slew of bad dates that led to suicidal ideations, you’re tired of scouring the Food Network page for “Dinner for One” recipes, or worse yet; you fear choking on a meatball made in said dinner-for-one recipe and having no one there to give you the Heimlich.Yes it’s scary to be alone, but I also watched my sister give herself the Heimlich when she was in the second grade and choked on a fruit roll-up. Judge me all you want but I was in kindergarten and could barely spell my own name; let alone save anyone’s life. Anyways, the motto of that story is while it’s unnerving to be on your own at times – that ultimately you can always thrust your abdomen into the corner of your kitchen table if worst comes to worst. I kid. Besides avoiding foods with a high choke risk, I’m saying that I get where you are and where you are is okay.
Now I am horrendous with proverbial one-liners and am even more guilty of yelling them to my roommates as they leave out the door. Someone could be going to the grocery store and I’ll yell “Don’t forget who you are and what you stand for!” When really, they just need carrots for their salad and maybe didn’t need a take-away for their trip downtown. One of the things I say a lot to people, whether they want to hear it or not, is this: “You can be lonely, but you’re never alone.” You can try, but there are literally like 15 billion people on the planet Earth so godspeed finding that solitude unless you go all rouge and off-the-grid, in which case – best of luck getting laid, ever. However I am convinced, the only thing more depressing in life than any Elliot Smith song or a Lifetime Movie where the protagonist unexpectedly dies a tragic death, is watching your friends settle.
They attend a few Match.com mixer’s, go on a few blind dates that make them question if their friends even know them at all, drink a lot of wine in the bathtub and then this happens: they meet a person who is sub-par at best, maybe they share a few common interests or one good laugh – and as they feel their ovaries shrink by the daily, they give up and make the executive decision to forgo Mr. or Mrs. Right and instead settle for the product of desperation and desolation: Mr. or Mrs. “Whatever, This Will Do.” Perhaps this is why there is a 50% divorce rate in the United States, I don’t want to speculate but Christ on Crutches – HALF the weddings you go to are for naught?
And is there a polite way to ask if it’s an open bar before you RSVP? I’ve spent too many weddings stuck at a table that includes someone with adult braces, a questionable haircut that could or could not be defined as a “‘soft mullet,” and a dude who claims to be a Jedi Master. If I could use “the force” to avoid any and all weddings, for the most part I would. Yes, I totally get stuck at that table full of weird, and to be honest – I prefer a little variety as opposed to being at the table full of happy couples who kiss every time someone clinks silverware against their champagne glass. If I was a complete social heathen I’d rap my spoon against my glass, chug the whole thing, ask the blissful Bride & Groom if they know about the 50% divorce rate and then throw up my arms, say “DUECES!” and make a grand exit. For the most part I just partake in a lot of awkward conversations, refuse to do any kind of synchronized dancing, and try not to kill myself whilst walking in high heels.
But before the wedding comes all sorts of wonderful literature such as engagement photos, “save-the-dates,” and the invites. While you’d rather glue them all back together into the tree that was cut down to make them, you hang them on your fridge as though you will be policed for not doing so. You start to question yourself every time you walk by to grab a beer or some leftover cheesecake and wonder what it is you’re doing wrong. Are you ever going to meet anyone? Is settling really the worst idea ever?
I hope you’re not scratching your chin and considering that inquiry because if you are just stop reading now, get a Quarter Pounder at McDonalds, maybe a pint Ben & Jerry’s – and just sleep on it. It is the worst idea. The other day, as if by chance, a piece of paper fell out of my coat pocket.
“What is that?” my roommate Molly innocently asked. I grabbed it half-embarrassed, although I didn’t really know why as when you live with your best friend they pretty much get to know you in a way that inhibition and self-consciousness cease to exist. “It’s nothing,” I said scrambling for my scrap note. Knowing I was trying to avert attention from myself she snatched it from my hands and began to read it aloud: “1. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being completely normal and 10 being totally weird, she must be at least a 7.” She raised her brow and continued: “2. She must actually be gay, or at best – a very confident bisexual.” At this point I was practically the color of the burgundy coat I was wearing. “3. If you want to be my lover, you’ve got to get with my friends,” she paused, “Are you seriously quoting the Spice Girls right now?” While I wanted to desperately zigga-zig-ah myself into a hole, I left her finish. “4. Must love beer and 5. Accept the fact I love my cat and dog above all else.” Without another word she walked to the cork-board in our living room and tacked it up, “You’re really not asking the universe for too much Tanya, it’ll come.”
And I believe that it will, and if it doesn’t – that’s fine too. I choose to fill my life in a way that is meaningful and more than satisfactory without considering the companionship of someone else. Of course I want it, and have the nights where I bathe with wine and watch too much Sex & The City, and maybe even cry on the shoulder or preferably – bosom of a friend about my woes. While it’s difficult to be in the minority of your friends who are somewhere between settling and finding true love, it’s important to remember this: solitude can be a wonderful companion. Learning to sit with yourself and to come home to yourself, is an experience that not everyone gets. Be able to be alone, even better; learn to take joy in it.
In loneliness I’ve found things to live for. Oscar Wilde once said: “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” Celebrate yourself and sing it. We tend to condemn self-love in today’s society, deeming finding your other half and soul-mate as the utmost priority – settling down, getting married, whatever. When really, how can you really do that when you’ve never taken the adequate time to get acquainted with every facet of your being and desires? The good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly. Welcome the loneliness and be comfortably alone. You don’t always need a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold – goddammit, learn to just hold your own.
My list may remain tacked on the bulletin board for quite some time – I’ve met plenty of people since then but for the meager 5 requirements at hand, at best I have had 3/5 and I haven’t waited this long for a 60% match. For what I have learned about myself, I deserve the whole-nine-yards, and if I find it that’s fantastic. If I don’t I’ll live to see another day until my last. Don’t give up on finding perfect perfection.