This is a love letter for those who don’t fit in “the box.”
Even though partnering up is the “next stage” and it is a sign that you are acceptable and stable and mature, you can still be those things without being in a long-term, cohabitating monogamous relationship.
Even though having children is the “next stage” and it is a sign that you have learned to go without sleep, money or personal time and that you have learned not to be so selfish, it’s not and you aren’t.
Even though people use the word “still” when talking about your living situation or other circumstance, if you are happy with it, it’s perfectly valid.
Even though people use the word “yet” when asking if you have something like marriage or children or a house in common with them, it does not mean that you are behind. You just don’t have that in common with them.
Even when you read a popular self-help book and you realize the author’s schema is built on job or parenting shame and you don’t have those because you don’t have a job or children you are still relevant and you still have shame and it is worthy of being addressed, and also…
Even when case examples with your lifestyle are only mentioned in a niche book about your lifestyle as though it’s a condition that requires a self help book, you’re still a real person who can experience the pain and joy that other people have and are certainly worthy of using generalized self-help books to seek self-actualization.
Even though people will wildly guess why you have done things that they don’t understand, and those guesses may be insulting or underestimate your actual accomplishments, they are still valid and you are still amazing.
Alternative lifestyles (any lifestyle that does not include marriage, home, children, traditional work and gender roles as accustomed in your age group) are becoming more common, more visible and more acceptable. Yet it’s still so isolating, since so many people still feel judged, and suffer inaccurate assumptions and field inappropriate questions.
Like me, you may fit the majority in some categories and not in others. Let’s all use our experience as outsiders to not only express compassion for other outsiders, but to remember to include them, to not ask for explanations, to not make assumptions and to find the common ground that is already there, just waiting for its seats to be filled.