29 and Single

A few months ago, I realized how “sad” my life looked to others for being 29 and single. I didn’t know anyone had an actual reason to pity me until a relative’s prying questions and hurtful comments made me wonder whether I was invisible to men. This relative wasn’t the first and won’t be the last person to make me question if being single at nearly 30 is a bad thing – so I shook it off, only after I had a good cry.

I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve been made to feel bad for being single, especially from acquaintances and even strangers who find it “so hard” to believe. When I tell people that I’m not with anyone, I often get responses like, “What?! Why not?,” or “But you’re ambitious, smart, etc.,” or “It’s okay, you’re still so young."

So I laugh, smile, and say that I just haven't met the right one, followed by some head-tilting, eye-squinting and furrowed-eyebrow action, which usually means I’m annoyed at all the interrogation-style questions. At times, my reaction has even ended in a defensive response like, “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me, I’m not desperate so I’m good being single for now.”

But inside, I’m sort of dying.

A lot of people I’ve encountered assume the reason I’m not with anyone must be because I’ve probably failed to attract someone, or I’m not stepping out of my social circle, or because I appear intimidating. To be honest, I understand why people question me. While I have never been like most girls to daydream about my wedding day, I often think about married life and the selfless reasons I want to be with someone. So it goes without saying that I never thought I would be single at this age and you can imagine how tiresome it gets when asked about my status constantly. And to make it worse, I’m Christian and Hispanic. Let me explain.

I’ve found that in some Christian circles, you’re definitely some sort of anomaly if you’re not married at 20-something and when you enter your late 20s, you always wonder if you can still be a part of the young adults ministry or if you have to chill with the older, married, 50-year-old ladies. It’s a real struggle, guys. Now, being Hispanic is another thing. The pressure to get married has been on for the last few years and the questioning from relatives lasts year-round; during holidays, on my birthday (the day before Valentine’s Day, no less), at BBQ summer gatherings (like, can I just eat my elote and carne asada in peace?), and at relative’s weddings, quinces and even funerals.

But in all honesty, being 29 and single isn’t the worst thing because my life is full with or without a partner. With every passing year, I learn that happiness doesn’t depend on my status so I actively choose to not make my singleness a focal point like others seems to do in my life (keyword: actively, because it takes some effort).

While some make me question whether I’m invisible or not, others have suggested ways in which to be happily single. “Go out and get all the degrees you can. Continue climbing the corporate ladder. Join networking events. Travel alone. Immerse yourself in ministry or spend your time volunteering,” they say. That all sounds great in theory, but that type of advice isn’t always practical, at least for me.

Do they have a point though? Should I be content in my singleness? Yes and I am, because I refuse to be a little, unhappy troll. Have I been proactive in developing ministry and other aspects of my life I want to see improvement in? Yep. Is climbing the ladder a priority? Absolutely. But it’s easy to dismiss the importance of all those things – even though I’m in constant pursuit of becoming the best version of myself – because the stigma that others attach to being a single girl can be overwhelming at times. 

So there are times when I feed into the questioning and self-pity and resort to Googling “how to freeze your eggs” or I opt out of invitations to spare being the third or fifth wheel. Other times, I begin to think about taking a solo vacation like a total cat lady or I begin to wonder if I was absent during high school the day most of my girlfriends met their now husbands. I also wonder if my nieces, ages three and two, will get married before me – not even trying to be funny or dramatic here. And let’s talk about sex for a second. There have definitely been times when its been difficult to remain celibate because it’s an active choice (again, keyword: active, because it’s pretty dayyyummn hard, obvi. For you super religious ones: go ahead and judge me! Oh, and mami, please don’t read this!).

But then I snap out of it because I become pretty unhappy when I focus on who is missing in my life, instead of being thankful for who or what I already have.

So for anyone who has assumed I haven’t attracted anyone - you’re wrong because I have. To those who say I don’t step out of my social circle – I’m working on it, but liiike how does this work, exactly? And if you think I appear intimidating – I’ve definitely been accused of not appearing approachable (fix it, Jesus) so that may or may not be true. But I don’t believe that’s the sole reason for my singleness.  

All I know is that being single isn’t the worst thing a girl can be and it's not a disease that needs curing, like some make it seem. Now if only I can convince everyone who stigmatizes singleness about this not-so-profound-truth, then I would tilt my head, squint my eyes and furrow my brows just a little less. 

Jessica Martinez