by Shannon Berry
Hello, my name is Shannon. I’m the one in the sunglasses. I am a millennial single.
I 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.
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 as many of my friends got married and had the babies…and went to therapy, and some of them got divorced.
Something inside me changed. I began thanking God that I was not in my married friends’ shoes.
I became thankful for being allowed the time to learn about myself and my own needs.
As exhausting as dating is, 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.
I am a millennial single and I found my greatest love!
I was living the confusing, millennial single life in the artsy, university town of Tucson, Arizona (which looks like a 1970s western film backdrop, and has the best Sonoran hot dogs you could ever shove into your face), I learned of a tiny little dog who needed to be rescued. Once home, and she ran as quickly as possible through every room, launching itself off my furniture like a wild gazelle in the hills and valleys of Africa. What had I done?
This little, 20 lb. Shiba Inu named Penelope would become my greatest love, and the only thing in the world for which I would throw myself in front of a moving vehicle (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. Her tongue hangs 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.
Urban Single Millennials
When I moved to Washington, D.C. for work, I met more people like me – urban, 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?
I have a job, health insurance and a new doctor who–even though he is an older gentleman– “gets” millennial singles, 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. 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.”
For now, I gratefully choose to enjoy my millennial single life with Penny. My mom has adjusted to having a grand-dog instead of the traditional family legacy. Sure, she’d like grandkids, but her biological time clock can just keep ticking.
[Chris’ note: Shannon is my youngest daughter. Her life as a millennial is often my inspiration for topics on this blog. Sometimes, her words about her experiences have more impact than anything I could write. Leave a comment for her below.]