dating

'When I was asked how my year had been, I immediately defined it based on one factor.'

Yesterday I bumped into a friend I’ve barely seen this year.

“2018’s almost over,” she said. “How’s it been for you?”

Without really thinking about my answer, I shrugged. “It’s been okay, I guess,” I replied.

Later on, I took the time to actually think about the question. How had my 2018 really been? What were my notable achievements?

I started a list.

There was a new job and a significant promotion.

The half marathon I completed in the time goal I had set myself.

The application for Australian citizenship I had filed.

The new, one-bedroom apartment I had just moved into, after a year of living somewhere I hated.

Earlier this year, the Mamamia Out Loud team came up with a word to guide their every move in 2018. Post continues below.

Reviewing my list, I actually flushed with shame.

There are people in the world who are dying, grieving, going through divorce, struggling with infertility, caring for sick or elderly relatives, worrying about money. And yet here I was, describing a year steeped in personal achievement as “okay, I guess.”

I was even more embarrassed when I realised why I’d done it.

It was because in 2018 I did not have a significant romantic relationship. And to my absolute shame, my instinctive response to that was to deem my year not worthy of much celebration.

Of course, I’d quickly checked myself, written a gratitude list, realised how utterly ridiculous that was.

But the fact that my brain went there really bothered me.

I wonder why it did. Maybe it’s because lots of my friends are married and having babies now. Maybe it’s because a couple of years ago, I was in a relationship I felt sure would go the same way. Maybe it’s because when you’re a woman beyond a certain age, people want to know why you haven’t paired off with someone yet.

Believe it not, one thing I do know is that it actually had very little to do with a desperate desire to settle down.

And so, in 2019, I need to do better. And that doesn’t mean putting myself out there more or going in search of love (although, who knows, I might.) It means that I’ll be more grateful for what I have been privileged enough to achieve and that I will never again define my self-worth or success by my relationship status.

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