Recently I had a startling revelation: When it comes to being single, we're a generation of experts.
Is this good? Kind of. I guess it means we're independent and self-sufficient, and that we have no problem solo-dining or going to the movies alone. But it also means that when it comes to building relationships, we haven't got a clue.
We are a group of self-reliant, confident and totally autonomous 20 and 30-somethings, but we've become so adept at standing on our own two feet that when it comes to being interdependent, I worry we don't know how to transform "I" into "Us."
Being utterly independent is so imperative to our generation that we strive for it at all costs, even at the expense of our relationships. Although finding a mate and beginning a family with someone is still a priority for us, we chuck it to the back of our to-do list.
Because along with the struggle for independence, we equate settling down with "settling." And why "settle" when, as we've been taught over the past few years, we have endless options? What, with all the up and coming ways to meet people Internet dating sites, networking events, singles nights, speed dating, etc. - we feel as though the dating pool is eternal. We say to ourselves, "If not him or her, then someone else." And, of course, this leads to my personal go-to sentiment: "He's okay but...what if there's someone better around the corner?"
At first this realization relieved me because, let's face it, if entire generations feel the same way I do, I know I can't be that crazy. But then I started to worry; the fact that we're all so, well, detached, makes me anxious.
When it comes to being individuals, we're pros. But life isn't just about "I". Life is about building relationships, making commitments and communicating with other people, and it seems to me that our generation - a group so focused on personal triumphs, short-cuts and communicative evasiveness is cutting itself short.
Think about it, when it comes to communicating, we rely on iPhones and text messaging; we rarely ever talk face-to-face anymore. So the question remains: how can we ever build solid foundations if our need for human interaction is null and our communication skills kaput?
Not long ago I was talking to my then 75-year-old father about relationships, and he mentioned to me how sad he thinks it is that people are waiting longer and longer to get married. "When I met your mother, I couldn't wait to spend forever with her. If people love one another, why not start a future right away?"
"Because, Dad, things are different now. My generation has certain opportunities and luxuries that yours never had. Now, life isn't just about finding the right person and settling down. It's about finding ourselves."
And perhaps that's one area where our generation got it right. We are a self-aware and mighty capable bunch.
And maybe, in the end, all it will really take to figure out our "Us" is to be certain of and confident with our "I".
Marissa Kristal is a New York-based writer who has written for various print and online publications such as Psychology Today, Time Out New York, Chicken Soup for the Soul Magazine and Beauty Addict, to name a few. Read more from Marissa on her website: marissakristal.com, and her blog: mariskris.blogspot.com.