As we prepare to travel home for the holidays, one thing that gives us anxiety is knowing that one auntie will ask the questions: “When are you getting married?”, “When are you going to have a baby?”, “Are you back in school again?” Let’s not even get started on the pandemic weight… And if that isn’t enough, here come the engagement posts because everybody gets a ring on Christmas. At least it seems like it. (Now that I think about it, I got engaged on Christmas Eve.) These situations will have us questioning our worth and wondering if something is wrong.
Let me stop you.
I don’t know who needs to read this, but you can be whole all by yourself. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that being single is better than having a partner. I’m saying that you can be complete without a significant other. Sis, you hold the key to your happiness—it’s not in anyone else’s pocket.
I remember the timeline I created in my head when I was in my 20s. I’d graduated from pharmacy school with a doctorate at age 23. So, of course, I wanted to be married with kids before 30, which would make me happy and complete. Who told me that I needed someone else to complete me? Most importantly, why did I believe it? Was I not satisfied with a doctorate and a full-time job at an age when so many were still trying to find their way?
This mindset affected my relationships. Eight years passed, and I stayed in an unhealthy relationship because it was better than being alone. I had a companion, but I was not happy. When I look back at that 20-year-old woman, I realize she was broken and thought she needed someone to fix her.
Then I met my husband at 31, got engaged on Christmas Eve at 32, and was married at 33. It was not according to my timeline, but it happened on time. I became a mom at 35 and was finally whole until my husband died. I was 40. His death broke my heart, but I was still whole. He hadn’t been the missing piece to my puzzle but had added value to my life. This is what life and love are all about.
We’ve got to recognize that we are already masterpieces, and the people who come into our lives should add value. Every part of your past—the good, the bad, and the ugly—shapes who you are today. You cannot change what happened, but you can learn from it and use those experiences to make better decisions. My past was instrumental in shaping me into the woman I am today.
The timeline that I created is long gone. The wife that I planned to be is no more, and I embrace being a widow. I no longer feel pressured to marry, and instead I trust the plan. If it comes up at the table this year, my response will be, “I don’t need a husband, but I want one.” I am whole all by myself.
And you are whole right now. You matter—just as you are. No intrusive question asked while passing the macaroni can change that.
The truth is, we all have the power to be happy. It’s not about finding someone else who makes us happy—it’s about learning to do that for ourselves. We are whole, complete, and perfect as we are right now, and it doesn’t matter whether anyone else sees it. The most important thing is that we know it in our hearts.
This Thanksgiving, how will you affirm yourself in the face of your family’s questions?