I am a 41-year-old unmarried woman without children. If you’d told me at age 18 that I would never have been married or had children by this time in my life, I would have called you a flat-out liar.
I grew up watching fairy tales and romantic comedies. I have wanted to get married since before I can remember. I even performed the act with my imaginary husband many times over as a child. And yet, I’m unmarried despite my intention.
Some might think I’m too picky or that there is something wrong with me, but generally, I seem to be well-liked by the people I know (unless they are lying to me). So many have expressed their disbelief that I am still single, and upon reflection, I think that despite my intention to marry every single one of the guys I dated, worthiness kept me single until this point.
I’d love to say that this worthiness was my own, but up until a few years ago, I think the worthiness came through my mom. She always wanted the best for me. Never once did she pressure me to settle down. In fact, she was just the opposite. She encouraged me to be free and do all the things I wanted in life before settling down. I can remember going to her at the breakdown of every single one of my prior relationships and her telling me, you deserve better and that’s why that relationship did not work.
My most recent relationship fizzled in 2017, but I tried to resurrect it in 2018 only for it fizzle again. My mom had already written off the guy in 2017, but when I told her we were just friends in 2018, she gave me a raised eyebrow and a strong “Hmph!” before turning and walking off.
Finally, in early 2019, she blurted out while I was on a call with said “friend” that she hoped that wasn’t said “friend” on the phone because he wasn’t about anything and I needed to just move on. Cue my complete humiliation and mortification and a quick exit from the call. I don’t think I ever called him again and he never called me.
The reason for this more overt declaration from my mother I think occurred because she was sick. The cancer that went into remission in 2018 came back with a fierceness in 2019, and my mom did not want me to waste any more time on things that were not working. She saw my worthiness where I did not. She knew I deserved better even when I did not. She refused to let me settle for something less than stellar.
And so, when she died in August 2019, I lamented the fact that I wasn’t married and did not give her grandkids, but when I communicated this to my aunts, one her sister and one my dad’s sister, who knew her so well, both reminded me that my mom wanted the best for me. She did not want me to be in an unhappy situation. She did not want me to settle for anything less than the best for me. And so slowly, I took on the worthiness that my mom had always held for me.
I finally was able to release the desire to attempt to pick back up a broken relationship. When my mom’s sister suggested I reach out to another old boyfriend just to help me around the house, I emphatically put my foot down and said no because I knew he would misinterpret the request and try to make his way back into my life.
I set my sights on a new love someone that was not a prior love, someone who had never hurt me, someone who I would get to know, someone who would be the perfect someone for me. And then, the coronavirus pandemic hit and I tried and was completely disgusted with my experience of online dating.
I got catfished y’all. Luckily, I discovered it within a week, but it really turned me off from ever even wanting to do online dating again. Don’t worry, I’m on one site that has added verification requirements to combat catfishing, but I haven’t had any hits yet. Know that if I get one, I will only speak to him through the app and ask to get on a video call as soon as possible if things look like they are progressing.
For now though, I’m content to just be good to myself, accept where I am, and enjoy each day, one day at a time like my mom always taught me. One of the joys of my day has recently become watching an episode or two of a Kdrama. For those that don’t know, that stands for Korean dramas and they are all the rage for a lot of people. I did not think I was one of those people, but I’ve been sucked in and I never want to leave this cushy place that is so foreign and yet so familiar to me.
The third Kdrama I watched was one called Something in the Rain, starring Son Ye-jin and Jung Hae-in. I was intrigued by the synopsis, which stated “when a single career woman reunites with her best friend’s younger brother after he returns from…working abroad, their efforts to reconnect grow into romance.” Still, when I started watching this, I did not expect to be so affected by it and its own themes of worthiness for the female lead character, and yet, here am I three weeks after my first watch of the series, rewatching it again and again both in its entirety and through clips on YouTube.
(SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know more about Something in the Rain because you, too, are intrigued by the synopsis and want to watch, stop reading now and come back when you’re done watching. I promise I’ll be here waiting 😉).
So when the story opens we meet Yoon Jin-ah, a woman in her mid-30s who is dealing with another failed relationship. We actually see her get dumped within the first 30 minutes of the show. We then find out her ex has been cheating on her, and she gets him back by pretending he’s cheating on his current girlfriend. After, we see how hurt she really is to find out that he was cheating as we hear her speak of her inability to pick good guys.
However, when her ex comes crawling back, she wants none of it. This is her first step to reclaiming her worthiness. Unfortunately, her ex does not get the message, as will be a running theme through the first half of this show. However, upon the first occurrence of his badgering her while outside her workplace, Seo Jun-hui, her friend’s younger brother, sees her and goes out, pretending to be her boyfriend to get her ex to leave her alone.
After the encounter, Yoon Jin-ah looks sad, and Seo Jun-hui thinks he did something wrong, but she tells him that she’s embarrassed that she had to be rescued by her friend’s younger brother and how she is horrible at picking men. Seo Jun-hui agrees but tells her that it’s good that she discovered who her ex was so that she didn’t spend a lifetime with him.
Over the course of the next two episodes of the show, Yoon Jin-ah and Seo Jun-hui start dating. I, like a giddy school girl, grin from ear to ear and giggle uncontrollably whenever these two come on screen from episodes 3 to 6 because they are just so darn cute and playful together. The freedom she experiences with Seo Jun-hui even affects her at work, as Yoon Jin-ah starts standing up for herself and refusing to be pressured to hang out with male supervisors for dinner and drinks after over 10 years of being complacent and going along with it even though she hated it.
However, in the midst of Yoon Jin-ah and Seo Jun-hui’s happiness and Yoon Jin-ah’s newfound assertiveness at work, the ex is still trying to worm his way back in. Long story short, the ex has taken the fact that Seo Jun-hui is with Yoon Jin-ah as a personal slight and proceeds to overstep Yoon Jin-ah’s boundaries numerous times. Each time, Seo Jun-hui has to come to Yoon Jin-ah’s rescue even as she tries to stand up for herself with her ex.
While all of this is going on, there are accusations of sexual harassment at the workplace. Yoon Jin-ah’s assertiveness has started a ripple effect in the company and the executives are hoping to get her on their side so that they won’t face any repercussions for their prior actions.
One of her superiors asks her to dinner, states she has changed, and asks her why since she always used to be so willing to do whatever they asked of her. She replies by telling him that there is someone who cares for her and worries about her so much that she is now trying to care for herself and worry about herself so that person does not have to worry about her. She says all this as Seo Jun-hui sits at the next booth listening.
And now back to worthiness. Yoon Jin-ah was unable to see her worth until Seo Jun-hui saw it in her. Just like I was unable to see my worth until the one who saw it in me, my mom, transitioned from this world. It wasn’t until I did not have here that I was able to step into my worthiness and it wasn’t until Yoon Jin-ah had Seo Jun-hui that she was able to step into hers.
It’s sad that it takes other people for us to see our worthiness, but unfortunately, for so many of us, it does. Even reading the comments on the YouTube videos in which commenters state how much they love the character of Seo Jun-hui but state that they know they will never find anyone like him or that he doesn’t exist. These commenters are already settling for something, playing into the sense that they are not worthy enough to even co-create a Seo Jun-hui into existence.
This also was prevalent with viewers who commented on Noah Centineo’s portrayal of Peter Kavinsky (“PK”) in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie franchise. Commenters lamented that they would never find a PK even though they were definitely a Lara Jean (“LJ”). The fact that they identified similarities between themselves and the female lead meant that there have to be some guys who identify similarities between themselves and the male lead.
Let’s be clear too that Seo Jun-hui has his faults. He doesn’t deal with his emotions. He stuffs them down and runs from them. Peter Kavinsky suffers a bit from the same issues as Seo Jun-hui. Still, their ability to love another person and care for another is admirable in this day and age because we typically do not see that in our relationships because we don’t assert our worth. Many of us, myself included, have been fearful that we will grow old alone, that we will never find the One or that nothing better is coming and so, we stay in relationships that have long run their course, and in some cases, we commit to them even though we know we are unhappy.
But that ends for me today and I hope it ends for those who were like me too. I’m looking for a romantic partner who has many of Seo Jun-hui’s characteristics — protective, nurturing, caring, and devoted, and Peter Kavinsky’s characteristics — sensitive, loving, communicative, and I pray to embody these same characteristics for my romantic partner. I refuse to foreclose on the possibility that someone out there exists who is like Seo Jun-hui or Peter Kavinsky or any other amazing male lead I have seen in any romantic movie that I’ve dreamed about but thought, stop wishing because he does not exist.
Me hoping for someone that embodies the feelings that made me giddy during these movies is the perfect way for me to co-create that person into existence. As Abraham-Hicks, the famous law of attraction speaker, says, getting into the receptive mode happens when we feel the feelings of what it is we desire to receive. If I desire to feel the love from a partner, I have to embody that feeling of love on my own. If I want to feel pampered and cared for by my partner, I have to pamper myself and care for myself and feel the same way I want to feel when my partner does it for me.
So, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be on my couch watching Something in the Rain and the To All the Boys movies feeling all the feels. But I won’t stop there. When I venture out to go grocery shopping and when I go online to this safer dating site, I will bravely continue to feel the feelings and believe that the one who is perfect for me, the one I desire, is going to find me. When he does, I will remember what my mom told me and I will assert my worth if I feel someone is attempting to take advantage of me. If they do not correct their behavior, then they have to go. I don’t have time to waste and neither should they.
I’m done also with societal norms telling me I’m too old and that I can’t have what I want or something that gives me the feeling of what I want even if it doesn’t come in the package of actors Jung Hae-in or Noah Centineo. I’m done with people telling women who are older that they won’t find a good man after 40.
Let’s instead normalize dating over 40. Let’s normalize not being married over 40. Let’s normalize going for what you want not settling for what you can get especially if that something you can get is not going to make you happy. One of my favorite sayings is that I can do bad all by myself. I have more happiness now on my own than I had with most of my past relationships that were filled with drama, anxiety, disappointment, depression, and a general lack of actual love from that person for me.
Are you asserting your worth? Are you foreclosing on the possibility of what you actually want and settling for something that you don’t? Do you feel you deserve the best? Are you feeling like you have to settle because you are older? Why? Is it because society is telling you to?
Guess what, in the words of Elliot from Mr. Robot, “Fuck society!” I’m playing by new rules. New rules that tell me the Universe is expansive and wants to give me the desires of my heart. I’ve believed in the old rule that life is miserable and I should settle because this is as good as I can get and that came true, so what’s the harm in living by the new rule and seeing what happens? I’m good enough, smart enough, and gosh, darn it, people like me. I’m also still young enough because you’re never too old and it’s never too late to receive and achieve everything you desire. I’m not giving up and I hope you don’t either.
Photo capture courtesy of JTBC.