As a single person in my early twenties, I am frequently frustrated by other people’s expectations of me. Our culture says that I should have my life figured out by the time I graduate college, if not before. It says that I need a job with a high-paying salary in order to be successful. It says that I need to be a size zero with curves, and have my hair, makeup, and nails done to perfection at all times. I don’t agree with any of those cultural mandates, but perhaps the most frustrating aspect of cultural pressure is the pressure to date, to find love, to marry and settle down.

Love is a beautiful thing, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting an intimate relationship. But I’m sick and tired of being force-fed the idea that if I’m single, I must be unhappy or incomplete in some way. I’m tired of singleness being presented as a trial period. This is the test, and if you’re faithful, you’ll be rewarded with the partner of your dreams.

I’m sick of lectures entitled “Celebrating Singleness,” discussions about how singleness is a gift and talks telling me how to spend the time I have until I find a relationship. I’m sick of singleness being treated like it’s some sort of disease like it’s ok if I have it, but I should try to get rid of it as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’m handed some coping mechanisms to deal with my supposedly sub-par life and am secretly pitied by everyone who’s in a happy relationship.

I hate that. I neither need nor want pity simply because I’m single. My life is about more than my relationship status, and my singleness does not need to be celebrated. It doesn’t need to be glorified and painted in an optimistic light because it is not negative.

I do not need to celebrate the fact that I am single any more than I needed to celebrate my pre-21 years in some “Don’t worry you’ll be able to legally drink soon, so just keep your chin up and you’ll get through this rough patch” sort of way. Single people are not trapped in a purgatory-like waiting stage before our actual life can begin.

My life began 21 years ago and is happening now, with or without a relationship. I refuse to spend my life waiting for what the future may or may not bring, not only because I want to live my life to the fullest, but because I cannot see the future. I may never get married or be in a long-term relationship. Why should I found my life and future plans on something that might never happen? Even if it does happen, I have no way of predicting the timeline. It’s awful that society tries to force my life into such instability and uncertainty when I have so much certainty already.

I am single. I am happy. I have everything I need. I am young. The future is wide open.

So I want everyone to stop saying that I’ll find someone soon or that I’ll get married someday. I want everyone to stop acting like the next big thing in my life will be marriage and babies. I want everyone to stop assuming that a relationship and marriage is everyone’s eventual goal. That mindset is toxic to people who might not want that, to people who do want it but might not get it, and to everyone who is struggling with being single.

Singleness isn’t inherently a bad thing, but society has made it seem like the worst thing in the world. I disagree. I’m quite happy with my life the way it is. I don’t need to celebrate my singleness. I’m too busy living the life I’ve been given.