Zainab Al-Mehdar reflects on societal pressures. Illustration: Christine Wang.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’m okay being alone right now

I lay here underneath my covers as I shield myself from the cold air clawing its way through the windows and ponder. I realize I’ve been paralyzed by this idea of “finding a man” for the past four months, the fear of, “what if I end up alone, like actually alone,” and in the process, I lost sense of what was right in front of me, lost sense of what was most important… me.

As a 22-year-old, ideas of marriage creep in and it becomes the topic of every conversation. It engulfs everything about us. We are reduced to being someone’s wife. This idea that we are not complete if at the end of the rainbow we are not building a home with a husband and two kids. This illusion of happiness creeps in and life becomes tasteless, because we become an agent in the grand scheme of things.

Therefore, I’m done with this exhausting view on love and companionship. This inconceivable ideal of love that’s so over the top. It’s all an imitation game; we all think by a certain point in our life we need to find our significant other. All this “perfect partner” idea is not only in the literature we grew up reading, it’s in the movies we stay up late watching now. We are sold by this idea of “the one,” but I believe the issue is that we fetishize this fantasy of a happily ever after. With all the noise around us, we forget to live for ourselves. We forget that silence too can be beautiful.

For me it came to a point where I felt so empty, and was sure that if this special someone came into my life that he would magically fix everything. That somehow, he would be the cure to my despair and emptiness. I was so fixated on the idea that I needed to love and to be loved, that this is what would ultimately give me reason and fulfilment. I wanted validation so badly, I completely lost myself in the hunt, in the game.

One night I had an epiphany; it wasn’t a grand awakening but it hit me like an avalanche: one, I knew I wasn’t going to find him if I was looking so intensely; two, I wanted him for all the wrong reasons. So, in that reflective moment I realized it wasn’t a man I was looking for but my way back to myself. I didn’t realize that all the answers I wanted could only be figured out by yours truly. The problem is, I had a crippling case of tunnel vision. I wanted to lose myself in a man’s arms, be sheltered by his strength, because I felt like I lost all mine. But what I needed was to be with a person as myself and not let him define who I wanted to be. I needed to know what I wanted, who I was, and the kind of person I wanted to be with. If I figured that out then I could find peace with myself and finally start living for me, and not for someone else.

Today I’m accepting the space on my queen size bed as a reminder that I’m not lonely but that I can be alone now and that I’m not waiting for this space to be filled. I’m living life and when that time comes and that space is no longer empty it will be a choice I made and not circumstantial. Fact is, I need to learn to be happy with my own choices in order to be happy with another person.  

So I’m going to love for me. Laugh for me. Live for me. And learn to experience life for me. 

If life choices are getting overwhelming, take a moment to reflect. If you need to slow down to speed back up, take the time to slow down your pace and understand where you stand with life. There isn’t a set checklist that everyone goes through; make your own checklist and check off the boxes when you’re ready. Don’t let anyone dictate that for you. Your never empty and waiting to be full. All of you is enough and not in need of completion.