One day, while grocery shopping on a Saturday morning, I came across a young, cute, millennial couple with a baby. As the child squirmed and wiggled in the shopping cart, I glanced at them. They were busy ironing out their weekly food needs while trying to attend to their child. I decided to interact with them.
“Your baby is so cute!” I remarked. The mother responded, “Thank you so much! Are you shopping for your husband and family?”
I stopped short, looked at her, then at the missing bands on my ring finger and said, “Nope! I am shopping just for me.” She responded, “Oh! You’re giving wife energy.”
Despite her impression of me, I am unmarried, without children, and also live alone. I’m a Black millennial woman who is 30 years old, and according to society, the proverbial clock is supposedly ticking for me. Although I am comfortable with being single and unmarried, I am inundated with reminders of my singleness in a way that’s meant to frame it as something negative.
From television shows, movies, and social media (I’m talking to you #Tradwives on TikTok) to the constant intrusive questioning during the holidays about my relationship status, the road always leads back to the importance of partnership and family building. I’m told that I may be approaching my life wrong and missing out on connection, romance, and togetherness, and doomed to be single forever, as if that’s the worst thing in the world.
But what if creating my own family isn’t high on my priority list at the moment? That should be fine, too. However, I’ve noticed that choosing yourself, at least for unmarried Black women over 30, is still a taboo choice. It runs counter to the markers we’re told we should be achieving at a certain age, like settling down, purchasing a home, etc. People think you aren’t married to a special someone because you can’t find one, and because of that, start viewing you as some kind of charity case.
But the data shows that Millennials are just not getting married like generations before them. The reasons behind that depend on the person, but it’s clear that we’re approaching life a bit differently. We’re exploring who we are, achieving our dreams, traveling, pouring into our friendships, communities, and ourselves, and finding joy in our purpose.
It’s a far cry from where I was years ago. Back then, my friends categorized me as the one in the group who wanted to get married the most out of all of us and likely would jump the broom first. But as years passed, they all got married or partnered off before me. Several weddings, couples vacations, and home purchases later, I am now known as the single one. I may not have a Mrs. to throw around, but I have a career I deeply enjoy, a love of travel, and a desire to continue being an active member in my community, with the autonomy to curate my own life.
Is that enough to fulfill me? It is right now. I admit I’ve surprised myself at 30. When I was young, I thought I would be married by now, but it hasn’t happened to me yet. So, am I supposed to stalk dating apps, go in my closet and pray for the one every day? No. Instead, I choose to live my life fully and intentionally, believing that an aligned partner will come when it’s time.
Although I love, love, especially Black love, I don’t aspire to be a wife. I don’t base my entire identity around that desire. Alternatively, I aspire to be a loving and kind person who makes an indelible impact in her communities through her work. I say that to say, my life’s purpose is not to be tethered to a man. While I understand marriage is about sharing your life with someone, establishing a life-long commitment, and creating everlasting love through faith, right now, I don’t want to share.
We’re conditioned, as little girls, to have the white wedding envisioned, complete with bridesmaids, the layered cake with toffee ganache, epic cocktails, wedding party toasts that make you ruin your carefully applied makeup, and the electric slide to Cameo’s “Candy,” (You can tell I’ve thought about this before, right?). But we have to think beyond the wedding and come to terms with the reality that things may not pan out as we imagined, and that’s ok.
So, if we aren’t married, no, we’re not incomplete and sad individuals, utterly devoid of all the accomplishments outside of our relationship status. That type of thinking is a dangerous concept, ultimately setting up girls and women to base their worth on marriage and partnership when they should focus on loving the person they are becoming and the life they are building with or without the Mrs. title.
So no, I’m not buying into it. And I’m not giving “wife energy,” but rather, positive energy and good vibes that we should all emanate. Though I’m not sure what the future holds, I’ll continue living my best life, presently unmarried and without kids. And please, don’t feel sorry for me. I am doing well. I promise.