Living in a decade of rapid technological innovation and ever changing pop culture trends presents a slew of challenges for many millennials, especially when it comes to developing romantic relationships. Coupled with being at the prime age where hormones are raging and personal and professional development are at its peak, finding love and companionship can certainly feel like a struggle.
I decided to write this because after coming home for Thanksgiving dinner, my grandmother endearingly advised me to “focus on school, get good job and marry Catholic Vietnamese girl.”
For those who may or may not know me, I am openly gay and I do not have any interest in marrying women.
My oldest cousin finished her nursing degree this past May, and proceeded to marry her high school sweetheart of about 9 years. I attended their wedding two weeks ago and was inspired and beyond ecstatic to be able to see their relationship come to final fruition. After all, according to a recent study conducted by Facebook, 15% of people went to high school with their spouse, and 28% of married couples have attended the same college.
As a senior anticipating graduation in May, there has been a greater emphasis on planning for my future than ever before. Having completed various internships and research experiences, finding a job and applying to graduate school has not been as great a concern of mine. However, with my grandmother’s advice and my cousin’s recent marriage, thinking about my romantic prospects has been rather daunting.
Perhaps a more honest reason for writing this is that I hope to invoke a sense of sympathy and reassurance amongst others (and myself) who may be in a similar situation. Given that we millennials are at an age where we are figuring out who we are and what we want (each in a professional, personal and romantic context), it is ultimately important to consider all confounding factors in any given frustrating situation.
Therefore, we can only explain so much of the occurrences in our lives, and sometimes, there has to be some reasoning that can help us cope, learn, and move on from our mistakes. As humans, we are bound to make errors, and taking the initiative and action to overcome these blunders are really what help us grow and become successful.
With regards to my lackluster love life, I often find myself saying that “everything happens for a reason.” There are so many reasons why many relationships or dates “go bad” or simply “don’t work out.” As humans, we may tend to irrationally overanalyze certain situations. Perhaps we may start to blame our lack of successes on our outward appearance, or we may start pointing fingers at certain actions or personality traits. These bouts of self-loathing are not healthy. Most of the time, it is not our fault. Other times, it may just be a “commitment issue”; because we are so young and not sure of what we want, we may not want to commit quite yet.
For instance, many are discovering their sexual orientation. There may be a possibility that one or both partners in the relationship are truly realizing who they are. It is important to be considerate of the other person’s development. For others, they may be struggling to balance their personal needs and responsibilities, and as a result, are not ready for a relationship.
My parents tell me to focus on school and relationships later. I will always stand by this pragmatic advice because the professional choices we make now will help impact where we end up in life later. However, that is not to say that we discredit our emotions, wants, and feelings. If there is someone attractive we want to date, then by all means, while being responsible with regards to other commitments (being academic, extracurricular, or professional), then certainly pursue that romantic relationship.
When others simply say, “a relationship happens when the time is right,” this is discrediting the fact that no matter what, we may still feel lonely and want to be with someone. Many unhealthy coping tactics, such as drug and alcohol abuse, arise as a result of a lack of proper acknowledgment of anxiety, stress and feelings. Companionship and romantic relationships are important for this reason; having someone to share your life with can help ease the stress of being a college student.
It is important, however to also have strong platonic and familial relationships with others not only in case a relationship ends or does not work out, but also just having other close people in your life that you can depend on and for support is important!
Long story short, as college students, we are at the age where we are going to want to pursue and be in romantic relationships. However, there are a plethora of issues that may prevent our desired relationship outcome. We will be quick to unhealthily blame ourselves when really there are many true reasons that are not quite apparent to the eye. Therefore, at the end of the day it is most important for us to embrace who we are, foster good friendships with others, and to just work to be the best and most wholesome version of ourselves.