They talked about what they would name their not-yet-conceived children as I drove down the single lane highway, admiring the unfolding landscape of the San Diego countryside. The golden sunlight kissed the pastures while the cow grazed, framed by blue skies. I sighed in awe of the nature while two of my long time friends chatted about engagements and weddings and buying homes and having children. All I wanted to do was celebrate my 26th birthday.
As a single, unattached 26 year old female, I find that I don’t know where I fit in anymore. On the one hand, I’m not ready to settle down. And on the other, all my friends are. That leaves me in the middle. Neither here nor there. Just somewhere in between being a “real” and “young” adult. This middle is terrifying. I admit it may only be FOMO (fear of missing out) but the panic is real when you’re the only one in the car that doesn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation about baby names.
FOMO is stupid.
I don’t relate, but I also don’t care to and I don’t try. For me, adulthood has been like a road trip where I’ve opted to take every back road instead of the one that will get me to where I need to go the fastest. And I’m perfectly content to explore at my leisure whatever comes along the road that interests me.
At 26, all of the commotion about marriage and mortgages and children is overrated.
But because I feel this way, I find that the road less travelled is also more lonely.
People partner up so damn fast—like its 8th Grade P.E. and no one wants to be picked last for a team. Desperate glances and nervous hands link as if to say “You’ll do”, just glad they’re not alone. But that’s the thing—even at 13, I was never one to rush a good thing. I turned down dates and broke from friendships and waited for time to reveal who would remain. Sometimes I ate lunch by myself—but I learned you need an empty table in order to fill it.
The conversation turns to travel plans with the boyfriends. It’s funny how “We” can sound so exclusive. And even though we were all together in my car, heading out to the desert to camp for my birthday, it was hard not to feel like I didn’t belong to the club.
But I’m realizing maybe this is the adult version of eating lunch alone in the cafeteria. That this emptiness is only making room for new people and new experiences to come. I’ve never rushed a good thing, so for now I’ll stick my nose in a book or journal. I’ll run new routes around the city. I’ll drive until road meets ocean. I’ll summit mountains and chase the sunrise across different continents. I’ll keep doing me—confident that I will receive exactly what I put out into the universe. A little kindness and whatever human connection I can find along the way.