Hello, my name is Shannon. I am a millennial.

I am a millennial who was told by the generations before me to date with purpose, to get married, and to have all the babies. I was told that true love would find me, or that God would provide it for me, and that the pieces of my life would all fall together.

Hello, my name is Shannon. I am a millennial and I am single.

I began dating in my late teenage years, and time after time, I found that the men I was dating with purpose were not dating me with purpose. Often, they considered me their “best friend” – someone to flirt and cuddle with but never someone to whom they committed. As I grew older, it became apparent to me that this idea of finding my Prince Charming, which had been instilled in me from such a young age, was too great a load for these men to bear. So I carried on with my life carrying the heavy burden of singleness with me. Who would love me? Who would provide my life purpose? What was I going to do with my days if I did not have all the babies to raise?

As my twenties continued, I watched in confusion (which eventually turned into defiance) as many of my friends got married and had the babies…and then I watched them struggle through the hardships of marriage. Oftentimes, they came to the realization that they perhaps married too young, before they fully understood themselves as adults. My friends went to therapy and some of them got divorced, and I began thanking God that I was not in their shoes. It was at this point that I began to be thankful for being allowed the time to learn about myself and my own needs. As exhausting as dating is (a looong story for another time that involves a very strange date who licked my face…true story), I learned how to enjoy my own company. I learned more about how men worked versus how I wanted them to work. I learned to love myself…and then I learned how to love someone else.

Hello, my name is Shannon. I am a millennial and I have the best damn dog in all the land!

Shannon and Penny

While I was living the confusing single life in the artsy hole of Tucson, Arizona (a town that immediately looks like a 1970s western film as soon as you exit the freeway and has the best Sonoran hot dogs you could ever shove into your face), a tiny little monster was bestowed upon me. I brought this monster home, and it ran as quickly as it could through every room and launched itself off of all my furniture like a gazelle leaping through the hills and valleys of Africa. She was a wild banshee and I thought, “Oh god, what have I done??”

This little 20 lb. Shiba Inu named Penelope would come to be my greatest love, and the only thing in the world I would throw myself in front of moving vehicles for (tested and true). She has been with me to offer a paw through horrific breakups and to run with me when I am truly happy, letting her tongue hang out the side of her silly, little mouth. She steals my side of the bed, and she sneaks up onto the forbidden countertop because she knows it makes me laugh.

When I moved to Washington, D.C. for work, I met more people like me – single millennials with dogs, and found that this was actually a phenomenon. People my age were becoming less and less interested in finding purpose in “the one” and gathering tiny animals to themselves for unfailing companionship as they figured out their lives and paid off their student loans (a millennial topic for another time)! Not only was I not alone – I was empowered!!! As I grew into my thirties, my life became me and Penny against the world, kicking ass and taking names! I was becoming grateful for my singleness…weird, right?

Hello, my name is Shannon. I am a millennial and I am doctor-approved.

Shannon Berry

 Just a few days ago, facts that I had assumed as true were confirmed as “not alternative.” I have a new job, and with it came a new doctor that was closer to my new office. He is an older gentleman close to retirement, and I love him. I love him because he “gets” millennials like me. As I sat on the table, he said, “You’re 31 years old, and you need to know that you have plenty of time to have babies if you want to.” I didn’t ask for this information, but he kept going, “In metropolitan areas of America, only 20% of women have babies in their 20s.” WHAT?? “And 70% of women have babies in their 30s. Only 10% of women have babies in their 40s. So you have plenty of time to make your life whatever you want it to be. Tell your parents.”

My friends and I used to have a joke where we would scream “THE WINDOW IS CLOSING” at each other after each breakup to make light of the fact that we were unmarried, childless, getting older, and less likely to pop human watermelons out of our lady parts before the ‘window closed’ for us to become mommies.

As a millennial whose doctor would tell anyone to back up off her timeline, I will say this: Love is not an easy thing to come by. It’s also not a thing that should be rushed. Being single is not a thing to be mourned, either. Having the gift of time to get yourself in order and be an adult is incredible, and I don’t waste a day of it. You shouldn’t either, no matter what your station in life. Dating is a nightmare that I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to find the hilarity in because I get to share these stories with my married friends, and we reconnect over the laughter of how insane some people can be while their children run around like…you guessed it. Banshees.

Being single is a gift. If you have single friends, give them a high five and be happy for them. If you are a single friend, be grateful that you get to have a different experience than you expected and rock the hell out of it.

And I’m sorry for all the cussing. What can I say? I am a millennial!

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