It’s the time of the year when half your friends are getting engaged and the other half are writing passive aggressive posts about it. Despite societal expectations, I didn’t get engaged last year, but I did finish university, hike the AT, backpack Europe and get a job. I’m happy for my engaged friends, but right now, this life isn’t for me.
Through my travels, I’ve found I like traveling alone. I don’t have to worry about choosing the best place to eat or what to see next. I don’t need to consider if we should stop for souvenirs or a quick photo op. I can just go. I like the freedom that comes with solo travel. I like being pushed to do things I wouldn’t normally do in a large group, have conversations I wouldn’t have, notice things I would miss.
In Austin, I know I won’t find love in the Sixth Street bars or Red River venues I frequent with my coworkers and friends. The atmosphere is wrong for it, full of “sweat and regret” as my coworker from Alabama puts it. I don’t think it’s waiting in online chats via social media or on hookup apps like Tinder either. The selection is too large, with a temptation to be inauthentic or to rely on technology for intimacy. I can’t find love here, nor do I want it.
I like coming home to my own apartment after work, running along the hike and bike trail, walking to the library, seeing live music and visiting state parks on the weekends. I like sleeping by myself, outstretched and comfortable with plenty of room. I like belonging to my community, family, friends and coworkers. I find energy in solitude. It helps me write. It forces me to meet new people and try new hobbies.
I don’t mind being single. I’m okay with not being in love. I don’t want to be engaged.
But I do like seeing my friends and former classmates getting married. Weddings are a celebration of two people finding each other despite the distractions. One saying, “Are you going my way?” The other answering, “Yes, I will go.”
I haven’t found someone going my way yet, and that’s okay. Because I am going my way. And I like where I’m headed.
I don’t always love my job, the way I treat people or the way I present myself. But in this new year, I want to be brave. I want to be kind. I want to explore my city and not lose what I believe and what I know to be important.
I am not engaged. And I love it.