As kids, we're scared of the boogeyman, getting shots, and being grounded. Then we grow up and acquire a whole new set of worries. The problem is not what we're scared of — it's what society is telling us to be scared of. In reality, many of these are things women don't need to fear, no matter what our culture tries to teach us. They aren't inherently bad, they don't come hand-in-hand with any negative consequences, and they don't assign our value as human beings. Why then, are we so concerned with fulfilling a certain role, carrying specific labels, and adhering to particular rules?
Take a look at your own actions and you might discover that some of the choices you make are out of fear — not out of what makes you feel happy or fulfilled. It can be something as innocuous as posting a picture on Instagram. After getting all glammed up, you share a selfie that ends up getting "only" 10 likes. Disappointed, you delete it in a hurry because 10 just doesn't suffice and now you feel like a loser. This is fear — the fear of not looking popular enough, so it's better not to have any picture at all.
But there is nothing wrong with this — or any of the following things, for that matter. I say this not to shame anyone if they are worries about them; everyone's feelings are valid, always. I say it as way of exercising my freedom — our freedom — to be whatever, whoever, and however we are, unapologetically and without judgment.
1Not Being In A Relationship
Our culture entices us with countless dating sites, magazine articles dedicated to teaching you how to become more desirable, and constant reminders of why you're still single. The message? Being in a relationship should be your goal, and you should avoid being single at all costs.
I'm not sure when being paired off became the standard. This isn't Noah's ark. Being unattached doesn't equate to something missing in your life. While it's just fine to aspire to be in a relationship, not having found one doesn't mean you're a failure; what's more, being in a relationship isn't a requirement for life at all if you don't want it to be. Yes, our culture depicts the American dream as a happy couple with a home and kids. But that's the beautiful thing about being here: You can do whatever the heck you want.
2Your Status As "Marriage Material"
We've made some serious strides, but there's still the stereotypical marriage material. This woman has a clean and impeccably decorated home. She always looks put together. She's a master chef, she's great with kids, and she has zero cellulite.
Here's your official reminder that if this doesn't sound like you, that is A-OK. At any given point, I may or may not have clean dishes in my house. Sometimes I don't comb my hair, because... why? I cook a mean bowl of soup, I like kids as long as they're not mine, and I have a dimple or 12. And I'm engaged. Can you believe someone wants to marry me?!
3How "Chill" You are
We sometimes refer to people we date as "like, super chill," as if the opposite is automatically bad. Women aim for the stars when it comes to being laid back, mellow, and easy to get along with. Unfortunately, this sometimes also means keeping our opinions and feelings to ourselves, refraining from disagreeing, and going with a flow that just isn't us.
Ask yourself this: If you're putting on this facade for, perhaps, someone you're dating, let's pretend they love it and want to spend even more time with you. Are you prepared to fake it for the rest of your life? Instead, why not surround yourself with people who like you for you, whether you're chill or hyper, easy to be with or a pain in the ass?
4Being Single Past A Certain Age
I've got a few gal pals into their 30s and 40s who are single and very actively looking; and anytime their romantic life comes up, they usually say something to the effect of, "You know... I'm 35... and still single... It's not going to get any easier..." I didn't realize humans had expiration dates.
There is no dating shelf life. You do not become less desirable or appealing just because you're not 20-something. You're not a failure or less of a human being because you haven't found Mr., Ms., or Mx. Right — or if you have no interest in finding Mr., Ms., or Mx. Right at all. And if someone actually judges you because of your age, then bye-bye!
In many ways (although not all), the beauty and fashion industries bank on you feeling bad about yourself. You have a wrinkle? Plaster more make-up on it. And buy this serum. And get this chemical peel. Hurry, because you're starting to look like the crypt keeper. No one likes people who age!
Except that every living organism on this planet ages. It's life. Society likes to tell us we need waist cinchers and lip fillers and expensive skincare products. Do you love these things? Fantastic. Don't love them? Also fantastic. You do you. Every single one of us, no matter what you think, is slowly on the way to becoming old and crusty. Accept it. Embrace it. It's OK.
6Being An Introvert, Homebody, Or Loner
You ever notice how in the movies, the lonely, single gal is always shown heating up her microwaveable dinner in her quiet, quaint kitchen, before settling down in front of the TV with a rerun of The Price is Right playing? There's this peaceful but melancholy music playing in the background, and she sighs despondently, as if thinking, "I just want... more."
I don't know about you, but that kind of evening sounds like heaven to me. Dinner in my underwear in front of the TV, no one to judge me for having pimple cream on my face? SIGN ME UP. If you're not the social butterfly boozing it up in the nightclub, it's alright. If you don't have tons of friends, it's alright. If you love being alone, it's all right. These. Are. Not. Negatives. And you are not lacking.
Everyone gets rejected. Oprah got rejected. Bill Gates has been rejected. The president gets rejected. (A lot. Like, every day. But I promise I won't get into that.) Life is not about hearing "yes" every single time. It's not about having a 100 percent approval rating. If you were rejected by a potential employer or mate or the barista at Starbucks when you asked for coconut milk, don't instantly think that you did something wrong. You just weren't on the same page at the same time with this other person.