Single but not sure how to mingle

Love can be confusing and unexpected

Here’s my admission: I am 22 years-old and I have yet to be in a serious, long-term relationship.

I’ve always felt like there was something off with me, some reason why I’ve never had the typical dating experiences that people around me have. I don’t have a high school or college sweetheart to reminisce; I didn’t participate in the typical milestones that my friends have gushed about. I feel like I skipped a chapter in life when my friends are on a different page than I am.

At the urging of my friends, I dipped my toes into online dating because I was told to put myself out there. Flirting through a screen feels kind of disingenuous at times, as we advertise our best selves hoping someone takes the hook. I am so confused by online connections without being able to read body language, and there’s always the fear that you’re being catfished. The small talk after you match with someone makes me want to set fire to my eyeballs. I think we can be even more critical about someone when all we have is a photograph and crafted bio to make a decision about dating. Instant gratification or rejection really messes up the dynamic.

I’m inordinately involved on campus in multiple registered student organizations and work part time. I’m really busy and meet a lot of people, but no one seems to click romantically. What does that say about me? Being chronically single is simultaneously awkward and empowering. Perhaps this road I walk is fate until I cross paths with the right person. Maybe my karma is taking a while to kick in from a past life, or I’m cursed to dole out relationship advice to my friends as a single wingwoman forever.

Instead of investing my time in relationships that may have been ill-suited, I spent it working on myself. I’m an independent woman who is OK with cultivating her own success. I don’t have to wait on anyone to grasp at my own scrappy ambitions, and I can sustain myself by emphasizing the importance of balance and alone time. I know my own worth that is not dictated by anyone else.

However, being alone is hard sometimes. It seems like everyone I know is either getting engaged or having children. I love fiercely, and it would be nice to feel that in return. I’m passionate about the people I spend my time with, so not having anyone feels hollow in my chest. Sharing pieces of myself to someone genuinely interested in the soul of who I am is a tantalizing ideal.

I used to believe that I couldn’t love someone until I learned to love myself, but I’ve found that logic flawed as the years go by: both can coexist in my life. It is not my job to fix others and there is no reason why I have to be in a toxic relationship for the sake of the principle. I love watching other people in love, and long to feel it in return, but I am young and there is plenty of time for me to find happiness in another person. Being chronically single is daunting sometimes, but just like college I have to keep working at it. Love isn’t easy, after all.