There is a look some people get when they realize I am single. It is a mixture of curiosity and pity. They want to ask about my life, about what it is like, about what I feel. It isn't really their fault. Even outside of LDS culture I'm becoming a social outlier.
From comments I have heard and questions that have been asked, it seems like a lot of people assume I am lonely. That can't be farther from the truth. If I want social interaction, I can find it. I am probably a lot less lonely than a stay-at-home mom whose children determine their daily schedules and don't allow for a lot of social interaction. Loneliness isn't the issue.
Additionally, I don't suffer from a longing ache for a husband or children. I wish they were part of my life, but I know from experience that I can live a happy, fulfilled life without it. It won't be the same as if I were married when most of my peers were, but it won't be filled with despair and bitterness like some people assume. I do, occasionally, dream of being swept off my feet by a tall, lanky, British man, not from loneliness or despair but because everyone needs a bit of romance in their life. Even if it is fantasy-based.
The secret that people don't grasp, or don't want to grasp, is that while I am not lonely or despairing or bitter, there is an emotional darkside to my continuing singleton status. Envy. A particular sort of envy. I don't sit around staring covetously at women with babies in church and I don't envy individuals their particular spouses or children. It is more to do with envying situations and blessings that I haven't got and then getting very angry at how unfair it seems to be.
I look at people I encounter at work or out shopping or on Facebook and get cranky. I see parents who don't treat their children as they ought in that snapshot of a moment at the checkout line and think "Why do they get to be parents? They are rubbish at it! I would be a much better parent." I watch friends and acquaintances who have regularly flouted the Law of Chastity for years get engaged and married and procreate (not necessarily in that order) and I get jealous and petty and angry that I have to sit on the sidelines, seemingly punished despite following the rules. I look at people from high school, who weren't very nice to me and were downright vicious to some of my friends, now living seeming picture-perfect lives and I'm livid at the injustice of it.
I don't like feeling this way. I try extremely hard not to feel that way. To be charitable instead of critical. To be happy at another's happiness. To forgive and forget and be glad that high school doesn't define us for life. Most of the time I am successful. Sometimes I'm not. Sometimes I'm stuck in the moment, mistaking the fleeting second of transient mortality for the finality of eternity. My battle is not against loneliness or despair or bitterness. Maintaining a clear vision, recognizing the difference between the mortal transience of becoming and the eternal finality of being is my battle.
I think it might be everyone's battle, regardless of the challenge, trial, or tribulation. Everyone struggles with perspective when it seems like it will never end, when it feels like a permanent state. Very few things are permanent in this life, good or bad. We just have to remember to remember that.