Since adolescence, an emphasis on finding “the one” seems to be the topic of conversation causing many young people to spend the greater part of their young lives in pursuit of a relationship. It is in our twenties when many family members start questioning us about whether we are in a relationship and when we will settle down. While a good amount young people do get married and start families in the decade after high school, many have started to see value in spending our twenties single. It is during this time period, the prime of our lives that we are biologically eligible to start families, but that doesn’t mean it is a requirement. Today it has become just as acceptable to rearrange our list of priorities in the order that works for us.
Those who choose to spend their twenties focusing on education, self discovery, and social freedom have found happiness as single twenty-somethings that generations before hadn’t practiced. It has now become invaluable for those who choose not to settle down to spend time learning to love themselves whole heartedly before jumping into potentially lifelong commitments. Mandy Hale, the author of “The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass” states that singleness is an opportunity to live life on your own terms and not have to apologize for it. As millennials, we are no longer held to the same timeline that our mothers and grandmothers were. There is a world of opportunity out there and your twenties is the perfect time to be selfish before being expected to be selfless, should you choose that path.
Selfishness does not always have to describe something negative. It is selfish to be ignorant of others but putting your growth and future as a priority is self-interest and that is good. As we grow, society gives a set of rules to abide by and goals to reach by the time we are 18. Young adulthood is the first time we are able to call the shots. While many young adults still feel they should pursue an education and obtain a good job, this is the first time for many people to practice autonomy and choose their own destiny. Psychologists say that people who take care of themselves first have a better chance of leading a healthy, grounded existence. Knowing what our needs are and how to meet them is priceless in being able to problem solve, prioritize and lead long healthy lives. Each person finds balance in their life in a unique way that works for them and for more and more young people, practicing being single and exploring who we are during our twenties is a great way to prepare for the rest of our lives. Some might think that they know all there is to know about self care but it never hurts to spend time getting to know who you truly are, exploring your likes and interests, and not having to answer to everyone around you for every decision you make.
Many millennials report placing success and a career first on their priority list, before they consider settling down with a partner to plan a future together. Studies show that individuals who are single and take the time to put their growth as a priority in their twenties have a greater chance of ending up in a leadership role later in life. Singleness can lead a person to see the true value they hold when standing independently, leading to a higher drive to succeed. Young adults who embrace being single often find that they are able to unapologetically express what they want and subsequently get their needs met. Knowing what you want and how to get it is a life skill that can lead to future success in intimate relationships because it opens up a door for communication. Some may say that thinking about yourself and nobody else can lead to unattractive personality traits and create a disagreeable affect. On the contrary, practicing self-interest actually allows for better balance and multitasking skills in the future. It is a practice in putting yourself first so that eventually you can put others first without losing yourself in the process. Many adults from older generations experience mid-life crises, perhaps because they never achieved that balance when the expectation in their generation was to settle down after high school.
One of the best lessons to be learned from being single in your twenties is that you develop clear boundaries and are able to know where you stand on issues outside of the influence of others. Further studies also show that people who cannot put themselves first struggle to say no, even when the warranted answer is in fact a NO. While learning to say no and setting boundaries is something that anyone can learn at any point in life, what better time like the freedom of your early adulthood to earn some positive character traits. It is the opportune time to explore oneself as an independent being and learn to rely on yourself for happiness. People who choose to spend time single before they settle down are saying to the world, “I deserve happiness. I know who my authentic self is and I choose not to compromise who I am for anything”. As human beings we are conditioned to be members of society, so often our twenties are the only time it is considered socially acceptable to pave our own way. Being single in your twenties isn’t a precursor to a lifetime of loneliness but in fact just the opposite. It is the opportunity to travel alone, discover hobbies, expand our minds, accomplish our personal goals and so much more. Embrace life, chase your dreams, and always remember that your life is your story to write, so write a legacy.