Being 30 and Single

a man sitting on a coloured rainbow ground at Taipei LGBT event

I’m 30, single, and have never been in a relationship.

When people find out about this, they usually display signs that resemble something between surprise and doubt: eyebrows are raised, eyes widen, and mouths open.

A dreaded one-liner would then echo throughout the conversation: “You must be too picky.” I would shrug it off with an awkward smile and try to finish my drink in one gulp, hoping to get away from this embarrassing moment.

This tends to feel like a public death sentence that’s passed way too quickly without considering the nuance and complexity of dating. Don’t get me wrong. I have put myself out there.

I use dating apps. I pester my friends for matchmaking. I try to approach people in social settings without looking as if the butterflies in my stomach were ready to burst out in a violent rush.

The conversations usually start out great. We seem to be able to laugh at each other’s jokes. The ambiance was always on point. But, I would feel that something was missing.

And, I didn’t know what it was.

The routine continued. I swiped online. I set dates. I wore my heart on my sleeves. I tried. I failed. I tried. I failed. I tried, and tried, and tried. I still failed. Love is messy. It’s filled with missed opportunities and misaligned personalities.

There was a point where I was trying so hard that I failed to keep up with life. Inner demons loomed large — it pummelled my very existence into pieces. I thought I wasn’t good enough. I thought I had to change who I was. I thought I was the problem.

It was then I realised that I had been looking at the world as if it was a glass half empty. I always thought that people weren’t into me because of the way I acted — introverted, soft-spoken, not manly enough. But, these are what made me, me.

I was being so critical of myself and cared so much about pleasing others that I forgot that no one’s perfect. We are all marked by bruises from our past, mistakes that are trailed from the darkest moments of our lives, and pain and secrets that no one else could understand.

It’s not about perfection. It’s about choosing to love despite imperfection. That’s what love is all about. It’s not elusive. It’s a choice.

It’s a choice to love the half-moon scars and idiosyncrasies like talking to cats on the street.

It’s a choice to embrace the duality that oscillates between masculinity and femininity.

It’s a choice to choose my own freedom and hold space for others.

When I accept the reality that no one is perfect, the way I see the world begins to change. I choose to see the infinite possibilities in people. Love comes in a package — the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can’t just choose which shade of grey you want. They are all meant to be there, to show us how to be human.

I’m 30, single, and never had any relationship. But, I still choose to believe in love, for I am worth it.

— Dewey