A few days ago, I had an epiphany: I fundamentally feel as if I’m unrelatable. I never operate from a premise that people will understand me, or be able to emotionally connect with what I’m going through. So far, people just assume that I’ve had certain life experiences (ie: dating) when I haven’t. It actually kinda blew up in my face when I admitted at an old job that I never dated before.
So when I read the snippet of an aptly named memoir: Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date on HuffPo awhile ago, I was hooked. Within three days I devoured Katie’s book about how she’d never had a boyfriend, a short term fling, or ANYTHING for twenty-five years of her life. (She’s now just turned 27). Although our narratives are rather different, it felt just plain good to find another person who is like me. Or, at least, really similar to.
My (lack of) experience with dating, sex and romance overall is a gigantic sore point for me. Just like Katie mentions in her book, had you told my ten year old self that I would’ve gone this long without ever dating, I probably would’ve given up then.
One of the other reasons why I was hungry to read Katie’s memoir was because I’m often starved for validation. Affirmation that I wasn’t alone, particularly when people actively ask me about my non-existent dating life, or assume I understand what they mean when they talk about certain things. It’s a weird perspective to entertain when I read posts about people being alone for the first time on Valentine’s Day, when I’ve never had a date.
And now that I’ve recently turned 26, I’ve been turning it over more and more in my mind. On one hand, as Kate mentions in her book, my perpetual state of singleness means that my time is my own. I’m completely free – no one’s interests to balance with mine, no compromising, no having to check in when it comes to finances, or plans of any kind. And as I get older, this level of independence becomes increasingly addictive.
Being a late bloomer has its pitfalls, and it’s certainly a struggle feeling left behind in the unspoken race toward couple-dom. But also being forced to live with yourself in a way that not many other people do lends itself well to thinking more deeply about what I want out of my life, realizing that I’m important, and that I’m not defined by my relationship status (whatever it may be).
This is one of the hardest lessons I’m learning: it’s okay for my life to not look like anyone else’s.
(p.s. : A lot of people look at works like these and assume it’s a ‘woe is me’ tale about feeling lesser than for not dating. And while Katie never seemed to have felt that way, it’s not unusual to feel undesirable because you’re not dating, but your friends are. Overall, this memoir focused more on shit simply not working out, particularly in the way that you want. And while I’m more romantically aggressive than Katie talks about in her book – I’ve blatantly approached every person I wanted to date – the results are still similar. And it’s reassuring to “meet” someone who has the same late bloomer qualities that I have).