Dear Doñas, the Solteras Don’t Want Your Pity

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I’ve always been a fan of the holiday season. I love bringing out my fall and winter wardrobe. Since I live in California, this usually looks like cozy sweaters, sheer tights, and my favorite pair of black boots. I love indulging in homemade tamales and pozole. And as a proud single homebody, I look forward to nights curled up on the couch enjoying a romantic comedy with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. 
However, the holidays come with a mix of emotions, too. There’s often, simultaneously, the grief for loved ones no longer with us and the joy of creating new memories with those who still are. For some folks, this time of year may also open the door to intrusive questions and judgmental comments from family members. Loved ones generally want to catch up and share life updates. Our social media feeds are inundated with engagement and pregnancy announcements. Meanwhile, other accomplishments, like prioritizing our mental health, starting a new hobby, or giving up alcohol, are outshined by these mainstream milestones. So when we choose to take a non-traditional path — like quitting our high-paying corporate job for a creative one, defying gender roles, or choosing to be single — navigating these conversations can be challenging. 
As someone who hates being the center of attention, I get a little anxious when asked about myself at family gatherings. Luckily, “¿Y el novio?” isn’t a common question asked within my family. I’m very fortunate that most of my loved ones don’t pressure me to get married or have children.

"To believe that all single people are sad and bitter during the holidays is a misconception."

Jacqueline Delgadillo
However, at a recent birthday party, a relative asked if I was afraid to end up alone. My older cousin, younger sister, and I had just expressed that we were happy and single. My cousin, a single mom, was dating to have fun, not to marry. My sister dreamed of becoming a mother one day but was in no rush. And I, a 28-year-old woman who is single and childless by choice, said I didn’t want children and would be fine if I never got married. So when my family member asked if I was afraid to end up alone, I didn’t have to think about it. “No,” I said confidently. 
I know this person’s concern was said with good intentions. Getting married and having kids was expected of her, so from her perspective, any life other than that might be a choice that leads to unhappiness. I come from a culture where women are expected to wed and raise families, and anyone who doesn’t follow this path is questioned. Latinas are often shamed for exploring our sexual pleasures and prioritizing ourselves, but many of us refuse to tolerate this shame anymore. Not everyone dreams of a “traditional” life. 
To believe that all single people are sad and bitter during the holidays is a misconception. This negative stereotyping is rooted in a culture that views being in a romantic relationship as an achievement and being single as a failure. When we buy into this patriarchal idea, it harms everyone, especially single women and femmes over 30 because we aren’t following a specific timeline and constantly have to explain our choices. Not being in a romantic relationship doesn’t equate to being lonely. If we stopped treating singlehood like a punishment or something to escape, we’d all benefit from it. We’ve been conditioned to believe that a romantic relationship is the highest form of love. As a single woman, a lack of love isn’t one of my worries. Please don’t feel sorry for me.

"As a single woman, a lack of love isn’t one of my worries. Please don’t feel sorry for me."

Jacqueline Delgadillo
And yes, commemorating the holidays with a romantic partner can be special. I have experienced both sides of the coin. However, I don’t feel like I’m missing something simply because I’m single. My life is still beautiful and the holidays are just as great. I continue to receive so much love from my family and friendships. My appreciation of my own company deepens. I’m not afraid of ending up alone because I will always have myself and my community. 
Many of us can’t fathom the idea of someone not wanting to be in love, but love is all around us and is experienced in a magnitude of ways. It’s in the friends that remind us of our worth when we’re feeling completely destroyed; it’s in community spaces where we feel safe; and it’s in our favorite poem or song, the one that makes us feel seen. 
Most importantly, love can be found within ourselves. I’m still learning ways to better love myself. I’m making more room for vulnerability. I’m spending a few minutes alone with my thoughts, with no phone to distract me, when I wake up. And I’m acknowledging and expressing my feelings as they come up, even when it’s uncomfortable. I can’t fully be vulnerable with others if I’m not vulnerable with myself. 

"My singlehood doesn’t define me, but valuing it is one of my superpowers."

Jacqueline Delgadillo
My singlehood doesn’t define me, but valuing it is one of my superpowers. One day, I may fall in love with someone I want to share my life with, but it will add to my already wonderful life rather than become its entire meaning. And how beautiful will that be? To choose someone you know you can live without but decide you don’t want to. 
This holiday season, I won’t be reading any Christmas or New Year’s survival guides for singles. I won’t be jealous of those with holidates to pick out a tree or take to their office party. And I won’t be feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I’ll be listening to “Santa Baby,” “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.” I’ll be buying thoughtful gifts for my friends and admiring the decorative lights in my neighborhood. 
I don’t need the doñas and señoras at the family party to understand why I’m happily single. TBH, I don’t understand why some of them ever got married to begin with. Still, I do want them to respect my decisions. My life isn’t sad because it looks different from theirs. It’s fulfilling because I’m constantly finding the beauty and joy in it as it is. By living my life for me, I hope to be the example I wish I had growing up for someone else — not so that they can follow in my footsteps, but so that they confidently walk in their own. 

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