Editor's note: This post by Katie Bastian originally appeared on her blog, From Little Things Come Big Things. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Being a 29-year-old single member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints these days is interesting. This stage of life is a whole different ball game from the younger single years, and I wanted to share some thoughts on what it's like.
Keep in mind that while I speak for all us (the older LDS YSA crowd) in this post, my opinions are mine alone, and not everyone will feel the same way. This list is to clear up a lot of misconceptions about our group. Yes, there will always be some who DO fit the stereotypes, but most of us don't.
So, without further ado, 11 things you should know about the older YSA crowd:
1. We do not all have dark holes of emptiness and misery in our souls because we are not married.
I admit it ... I was the girl whose plan was to go to college, find a husband, get a college degree and then live happily ever after as a stay-at-home mom.
When I was a freshman at Utah State University and first met my 21-year-old resident assistant roommate, I remember thinking, "Wait. But she's a senior in college ... and NOT MARRIED. How is that even possible?"
Yes, I eventually ate my words, and I quickly realized that 21 is basically still a baby in the world of adulthood. (This coming from the obviously older and wiser 29-year-old who clearly knows everything. Let's be honest, I'm still a baby.)
At some point, when our lives don't go as planned and we find ourselves all grown up with no spouse, it gets confusing. There's a moment of, "Wait a second. There's a big piece of my plan missing, and now I don't know what to do with myself." But guess what? With a little time, we usually figure it out.
We learn that we can be happy by ourselves. We begin to understand how fulfilling life can be when we work, serve and play. We develop our talents in ways that can benefit others. And we are happy. Despite popular belief, we are not sitting on the couch woefully awaiting the day when that special person will just magically appear and grant us the happiness we never knew.
Will marriage add to our happiness? I sure hope so!
Will it create it? Nope.
There are too many young adults in our culture who expect a fairy tale marriage to magically make everything wonderful in their world. But you have to be whole as an individual before a relationship can be whole.
So, we work to progress and become better, all the while enjoying the moment.
2. We are not all bitter toward the opposite sex.
Yes, guys are confusing and frustrating sometimes. But so are girls. I am not ignorant to the frustration I've put many a guy through because of my own indecisiveness and lack of communication. I feel that having that experience helps me be more patient with guys when they confuse me. Sure, there are a few legitimate scumbags out there, but I figure most guys are just trying their hardest, like I am, and if they end up hurting me, it is likely not intentional.
3. We are not all bitter when our friends get married and have families.
We've all seen it — the people who attend their best friends' wedding receptions with a fake smile, trying to hide the anger and bitterness deep inside, all because it's NOT THEM. And let's be honest, we've all probably been there at one time or another. Years ago, both of my roommates got engaged within a month after I called off my wedding. It was hard and painful, and though I knew it would all make sense someday, at the time, it seemed so ... unfair. Why did they deserve it, but not me?
After some time and some healing, I realized that was a completely selfish attitude. I was making others' relationship success about ME.
When others succeed in their relationships, that doesn't mean we have failed more. Most of us understand that. If we really love our friends, we will love it when happy things happen in their lives, too.
4. We love support, but not pity parties.
"So are you dating anyone?" "Not at the moment, no." "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry ..."
Really? Because I'm not. You wanna know why?
5. Because our self-worth is not based on having significant others.
We are daughters (children) of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and we love him.
But really. If a guy isn't interested in us, it's OK. God is. And in my eyes, knowing that and reflecting that knowledge in our daily living is what makes a person truly attractive.
6. The fact that we are not currently in committed, exclusive relationships does not automatically mean that we couldn't possibly have anyone TO date.
What I'm really trying to say is, just because you happen to know another single male somewhere in the world doesn't automatically make him a perfect match for me OR my only living possibility for marriage. If you know a girl well, and you know a guy well, and you genuinely think they could potentially be a good match, great! Set them up. But don't go setting up the whole world on blind dates just because you think we all need help finding other single people.
We are not desperate.
7. Most of us actually are trying.
Some of the conversations I have with people (even my family) lead me to believe that we just don't even try when it comes to this whole relationship thing. We just sit around being bitter, or we don't want to commit so we just float from one person to the next, or we're just lazy. While that may be true for some, it's not for all. And let me be clear here: This point is really not to defend myself; it's to defend all the incredible guys I have met and dated in the past several years.
Everywhere I go, there are lots of really great guys who date frequently. They know how to call a girl, ask her on a date and plan out a lovely evening. This is me defending older YSA men: They are trying hard! And yes, so are the girls. We may be a little pickier as time goes by, yes, but only because we don't want to make the same mistakes twice. We are all trying.
8. We know that it will all work out. "Don't worry. I PROMISE your prince will come!"
"Don't lose hope. It will happen when you least expect it!"
"Just try not to get discouraged that you're not married yet. God has a plan for everyone!"
The annoying thing about these comments is that when we smile and say, "I know," the pitiful looks we receive in response make us feel like you think we are just saying that to shut you up. But really. WE KNOW. It's OK.
At our age, chances are we've all been in at least one or two serious relationships and come fairly close to getting married, but, obviously, it didn't work out. It is hard to make it through an experience like that without learning this — that things work out how they should. Eventually, we see why, we are so grateful that things didn't work out how we wanted them to back then. These experiences strengthen our faith in God and his timing. We trust and believe that if we are living the best we know how, everything will all work out wonderfully.
Living faithfully is so much better than living in fear, bitterness and discouragement.
9: We'd rather be happily single than miserably married.
This may sound really selfish, and I will be the first to admit that being single has its perks. We can have 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep almost every single night. Nobody depends on us and we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. We can have alone time ... every day. When the time comes for me to have my own family, I'll miss that. A lot.
But that's not what this is about. We have seen so many miserable marriages. Infidelity, pornography, selfishness, abuse, manipulation and controlling spouses ... these are no longer things we just hear about, they are things that happen to our brothers and sisters, our parents, our very close friends ... AND for many of us in our dating relationships. Yes, we know any good marriage takes a lot of hard work, communication and compromise. No, we are not waiting for the "perfect" marriage. It's just that we would much rather wait for an opportunity for a good marriage, instead of settling for one with major problems.
10: It's not that there's something wrong with us.
"HOW are you not married yet?!"
If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked this ...
I have to admit, I do it to. I see someone fabulous and ask myself the same question about them, and then I wonder if there's some deep dark secret that's keeping them from marriage. But the fact of the matter is most of us are pretty normal, and pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
If we knew the answer to this question, we'd tell you. But I have a feeling this is one of those "this will all make sense in retrospect" things. God knows the answer, and that's all that matters.
11. Though we might not know exactly what we're looking for, we know it will be worth the wait.
I believe this. I believe I will FEEL when it's right, and though it will take work, it will also be wonderful.
Until then, I'm content just being me.