Oh. Until we do.
There is something born within girls raised below the Mason-Dixon line, that no matter how independent we are, how often we laugh off the idea of needing a man, when the clock turns 12 on our twenty-third birthdays, something snaps.
As an undegraduate, I shined in my journalism and poli sci classes, joined every organization and club I could find and made a name for myself. I was elected president of the school's chapter of a well to do journalism organization, cast as the leading lady Sandy in the musical Grease, and spent my spare time researching law schools, trying out every interest and talent I had, making sure I would never look back and wonder "What if?" If "fiery and ambitious" had a Wikipedia page, you better believe my picture would've been there.
As I neared the last semester of my undergraduate career, I had been dating one person since my freshman year. Having always been fairly independent and go-getting anyway, I knew it was time to part ways to take on my last semester as a single girl and map out where my life plan was going to take me next. I had just turned 22 and, for some reason, "single" doesn't sound so scary to a 22 year old. It sounds more like a challenge, a dare.
Of course, as most of us know, when you tell God your "life plans", he's probably going to laugh.
I met Someone. Someone who seemed to fit all the guidelines any good Southern Mama has on her mental checklist for her baby's future husband. Polite, charming, intelligent, ambitious-- you get the idea. Could it be? Could I, Little Miss Iwantobesingle, have already found my match? Let me tell you, the challenge and dare of being independent and single suddenly loses it's appeal when it appears that you have everything you think you're supposed to sitting right in front of you.
After graduating with my Bachelor's, I began to look at my options-- applying to law school, moving to somewhere I could audition for theatre, getting a job. If anyone reading this was also a college grad of 2009, you know we got the short end of the stick in the new jobs department. But, I was fairly certain I wanted time off before going to law school and my other two options were few and far between.
I got a short term job, doing some office work and marketing, but after six glorious months and discussions with my Someone, I made the decision to return to grad school that fall, waiting for him to finish his undergrad. We (Sidenot: Ladies, please do not make decisions that start with "we." Please?) planned (God must have gotten a couple of stomach cramps last year from laughing so hard at me) to figure out where he would go to medical school and then I would chose my law school/career/etc from there and-- long story short: We'd move far away, get married, and live happily ever after in our magic castle with the moat.
As I turned 23, my disgust with settling down was nowhere in sight. In fact, it had become all I wanted. Like I said before-- It's something just born within us Southern women (Sidenote: This number could give or take a few years, girls, so don't shake your head just yet!). I have no interest in telling or boring you with the details of what came in the following months, but let's just say the fairy tale did not have the happy ending I'd counted on and we didn't make it to the magic castle. Or the moat. Though if we had I probably would have pushed him in it.
Unfortunately, for how quickly I transitioned from the just turned 22 "Little Miss Iwanttobesingle," 23 and nearing 24 "Little Miss Wifey" is harder to ditch. She's a real clinger. At times it has felt like she will never, ever leave, and I will admit I have wondered when I (the bubbly, perky, overwhelmingly independent me) was going to come back. But as I slowly but surely return, she slowly but surely goes, simply because this is not her time to be here. She will come right back when the time is right and when she does, she will not take over.
So, how does this happen? How do the most independent, clever girls, with no interest in settling down throw up their white flags the second a Prince Charming look-a-like steals their heart? How do we go from being strong and hard headed before to lonely and weary? Why does pre-relationship "Single" feel like independence, but post-relationship "Single" feel like an old maid/spinster? Luckily, ladies, we are not alone. It happens to the best of us and it is not because we are weak or unsure (or any other reason that someone may have given you), it is because despite our stubborn attitudes against this aspect of our Southern roots, we love love! Heck yes, we can take care of ourselves, but when we fall in love and become enamored with the idea of that picture perfect life-- it is HARD to get rid of it. And if it is taken away from us, without our say, it can nearly KILL us! But, it doesn't. And as much as we don't want to hear it, what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.
It is not easy to be a 20 something college grad AND single in the South. Everytime we log onto Facebook, there's another update saying Tallulah Beth is now engaged to Clayton Joe with a picture of a big, old sparkling diamond and their happy faces. It sucks.
But, I promise, it is ok. Everything happens for a reason and if we can just stick to who we are inside and learn along the way, we will get that fairy tale ending we've hoped for and more.
"You shouldn't have to sacrifice who you are just because somebody has a problem with it." -Sex and the City