I live in Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, in an area where most everyone in town either married their high school sweetheart or met the love of their life in college.
I suppose it's part of our Southern culture in many ways. Folks marry young, pop out a few kids and never miss a University of Kentucky basketball game.
It's a way of life that is generally both accepted and encouraged. But here I am -- 28 and extremely unmarried.
Southern people typically have two reactions to this. The first is pity. You know, the whole, “Oh girl, don't worry. You'll find Mr. Right someday, and then you'll be eternally happy.” *insert smiley emoji, heart emoji, ring emoji here*
When people say this to me, I want to cringe. I know they generally mean well, but this is 2016, and we singletons are not at all void of happiness.
Maybe people think life begins the moment they find their significant other. Well, I guess I could be wrong, but I'd venture to say our lives have already begun.
How do you cope with receiving comments that your life hasn't begun? Well, you live your life.
Take that trip to France you've always dreamed of taking. Move to that city you spend hours researching online. Treat night outs with your girlfriends like they're just as special as a date night with a significant other (because they are!).
Just like my momma always said, life doesn't begin or end with the absence or presence of a man.
The second way people tend to respond to news of Southern singleness is by attempting to “fix” the situation. I've been there more times than I care to admit.
I've been set up with every (and I do mean every) type of man. I could tell you some pretty gruesome horror stories, but I'd be writing a book instead of an article.
All these dates essentially end the same, though, with us vowing never to accept another blind date until we croak.
(So, as a note to all of you happily married people, please don't try to set your single friends up -- just because I'm single and your husband's brother's boss is also single, it doesn't make us a perfect match.)
But then again, we know the ever-looming "clock" is ticking. We hear it everywhere. The last time I got my nails done, my nail technician said, "Don't wait too long OK? There won't be any men left."
We laugh it off, but we might admit even through our happiness and contentment, there are nights when we have a mini-panic session that perhaps these people are right. What if everyone really is taken?
On nights like these, call your best friend and cry. I'm pretty sure she has the dialogue memorized by now.
What if I'm single forever? What if I never find a good guy? What if the guy I'm supposed to be with ended up with somebody else?
She'll do her best friend duties and assure you you're OK, nothing is wrong with you and one day you'll find the guy who will be worth the wait.
Nights like these are bound to happen. We get in a hurry when we see something we want, or maybe we feel like we're lagging behind. We get caught up in the idea we all have to do the same thing at exactly the same time.
Well guess what? We don't.
Sometimes Mr. Right doesn't come in on a galloping white horse. Sometimes he takes the late-arrival, scenic route.
That's OK. Choose to embrace every circumstance. Choose joy.
So what if you didn't find someone before you turned 21, or even 28? As horribly corny as it sounds, you'll end up finding yourself. (I promise.)