[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t thirty, I can honestly say for the first time in my life that I am happy. I have a great job, a growing writing career, great friends, an affirming family, and continue to be blessed with all things that the higher power has for me. As I go through life, I am continuing to learn who I actually am and what goals and objectives are becoming a top priority for me. Contrary to societal standards, a dream I once had of being in a relationship continues to move further and further down the list.
If you asked me five years ago, “If I had all those things but wasn’t in a relationship would I be happy?”, I would have given you an emphatic “Hell No.” I always thought that being in a relationship was the thing that would give me the happiness I was always looking for. Growing up in a house with two parents, who have now been married for over thirty years, I viewed it as a failure if I ended up being single. I bought into the notion that a fulfilling life could only happen if I were to be in a relationship; little did I know that I had been ignoring one the whole time.
The relationship I began having with myself became the most meaningful and empowering thing I ever experienced. I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like. What I would accept, and what I wouldn’t accept. Dating apps were deleted and the time I used to spend “messaging” on them was replaced with spending time with myself. I came to the realization that the narrative of the “American dream” that society was teaching was flawed and highly problematic.
The belief that all of us will end up with someone is just untrue. Many people have come before me who have never been married and will never be married. Furthermore, there are individuals who adamantly are against marriage or simply just don’t have the desire. This helped me gain understanding of the fact that as much as I may want to be married, odds are that I will be single. The important thing now is that I know that being single is a thing that I shouldn’t be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean that I did something wrong or missed some opportunity. I now accept that being single is more than something that happens to the “undesirable” and should be looked at as an alternative option to the many different types of “relationship labels.”
This allowed me to work on all of my “relationships” and not just the romantic ones. This meant growing and becoming more vulnerable with my friends and family. I started to figure out what it meant to be single. This meant I didn’t have anyone to answer to but myself at the end of the night. This meant that I could spend my money the way that I wanted, travel, and have fun actually being with me. Being single wasn’t the absence of another person but the acknowledgement of who I had been and will continue to be going forward. Far too often, we seek relationships for the validation that we are worthy of someone else’s love. I had to learn that love can come from many variations and the idea of placing so much weight on a certain type of love like romanticism was only invalidating that other type of love I receive from my friends, my colleagues and many others who have “love for me.”
Working in the HIV community, I play witness to hundreds of HIV-positive men who have accepted the notion that they are less desirable beings sexually and romantically. I’ve also watched many within the LGBTQ community have these same feelings toward not being in relationships. No fats, no femmes, DD Free being the label most often used as a way of discrimination not preference. I wish that many of us could get to a place of knowing that we are more than enough and that being single is nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us are single in this community but that is not to our detriment. This can be the time to work on self and more importantly work on the understanding that being single is an option and not the end of the world. That it is truly okay to want a relationship, but learn that the absence of one does not make you any less of a person.
Being single has taught me many things. The most important being that two halves may make a whole but two wholes make a relationship. Trusting in the very statement has taught me that I had to do the work on self-healing, self-care, and self-love before I could ever seek outside completion of that. Being Single is a thing, and it is truly amazing.
George M. Johnson is an HIV advocate who works for Us Helping Us, People into Living located in Washington, D.C. He has written for Pride.com, Musedmagonline.com, Blavity.com, Rolereboot.org, and Ebony.com. Follow him on Twitter @IamGMJohnson.