Note: If you are a 20-something who is married and has children, I'm happy for you! We all chose our own paths and no path is better than the other. This is just about my path. I have thought a long time about writing this post, in fact my sister encouraged me to write it months ago, but out of fear I didn't. But overtime we all conquer our fears.
When a woman turns 20, she catches the "I'm going to die alone" bug. No one is immune. It doesn't matter if you have plans, dreams, or goals. If you had planned on having children in your 30s or wanted to wait until traveled the world to "find the one." You magically start thinking that all babies are adorable and if you don't hurry up and get on with it then you are going to end up alone. I have watched this happen all around me and maybe even a little before I turned 20 I caught the bug.
I had had a high school sweetheart that I had been sure I would end up with, but alas that ended shortly into my med school career. When I ended that relationship, I had no regrets. I knew we were headed down very different roads and had nothing in common. He was a safe first, long relationship. So while I'm glad I had the experience, I am also happy with my choice to move on. I spent a year after the end of our relationship with friends, experiencing college life, and dealing with family issues.
At 20, I became obsessed with finding "the one." The rest of my life went on the back burner. All I knew was that I wanted to get married desperately and my new biggest goal was to have beautiful children. When I look at the my family and culture, I am not surprised so many young women get "the bug." 20 is when your friends from your hometown start getting engaged and having children. It is when your family starts asking about your love life and lack thereof. It is when society starts pressuring women to get on with it already. I attended 4 weddings during that year and just as many if not more baby showers. And heard countless times, "I just don't understand why you're single."
Shortly after my 20th birthday, I made a bold move and confessed my interested in a nice guy who was several years older than I was. But he had been through hell and back in his relationship life and after a few weeks of friendly conversation I was back to page one.
In the winter of that year, I decided to have a casual relationship. While the whole couple of months seemed very casual to me, perhaps it was very different for him. I was in a point in my life where I didn't really know what I wanted and the pressure at school made life difficult. When he told me he loved me, I couldn't say anything. I knew I didn't feel the same and that I didn't want to lie. He became upset and over the next couple of days refused to talk to me. Out of no where, a weird feeling of desperation set in and I lied. Perhaps it was lucky for me that the damage had already been done.
Things weren't much different when I turned 21. I had taken care of many of my family issues, I was healthy, and I had finally found my stride in school, but on a relationship level I was still looking for "the one."
My mom always encouraged me to date, I think she was afraid I would die alone too. When she took me out for my 21st birthday, she invited several of the guys who worked for her. I set my eyes on the one who seemed the nicest(I'm a sucker for nice guys) and after a few weeks I settled into a relationship with an emotional distant guy who liked his space. Our relationship moved entirely too quickly and within a couple of months he had moved in. I think if we both had to do it again we would have waited, but I also think we would both agree that it wouldn't have worked out anyway. Throughout our relationship, I became more and more committed to my career. I had suddenly realized that I was capable of being an incredible physician. While I had been upfront about the time required to pursue my career, even for a guy who wasn't sure about relationships to start with it was too much time.
We were together just about 18 months and it was an interesting journey(for both of us.) We were 2 people from 2 very different worlds and even if my future self had told me that it would never work out, I would do it again. It was through that experience that I got to where I am now.
So let me now answer all those questions about my love life that people like to ask...
I just turned 24 a little over a month ago and I am entirely too young to have a family. Over the last year, I have done incredible things and have proved to my self and my peers that I have an amazing career ahead of me and I think that is pretty good for 24.
I've decided it is okay not to have a family in your 20s and in fact it is okay not to have children at all. I want to live the life I want to live and not the one others think would be good for me.
I like being single. When I come home, there is no one to feed, no one to make feel better, no one to clean up after and after a 12 hour day at the hospital, it is nice to come home and lay on the couch. No one is mad about my socks on the floor or my 15 textbooks on the coffeetable.
Am I opposed to love? No. In fact I look forward to the day I find someone to share my life with. I still get weak at the thought of that guy I once knew. But I'm not in any big rush and I don't structure my day around the idea I might meet someone while I'm grocery shopping. (I mean honestly, how many amazing available guys do you run into in the milk aisle?)
My number one goal in life is to do everything I can to provide my future patients with the care they need and deserve.
So maybe a year from now I'll be in a strong committed relationship or maybe I will be trying to get my pilot's license(I'm getting that either way). In the end it will all work out and I won't die alone. And maybe, just maybe, when I do commit myself to someone again, I will be able to support them and compliment who they are. Because I think a relationship is much different between 2 people who need someone else and 2 people who simply want to be there.