I think naturally built into our psyche is the need for human connection. Ultimately, existential loneliness is a universal experience. It’s the thought that reminds us we are alone– no one understands us. Some get closer than others. But we are, and will never be, fully understood. It’s the nature of the human condition.
With this inescapable understanding, it has always concerned me, this external pressure, of needing to peer up and find your “other half.” Clearly I know that I am lonely and I want to be understood.
The ultimate driving force pushing me away from it all was the dating world in the right wing Orthodox community. I left my year in Israel with a deep love and commitment to Judaism; however, upon returning to the U.S, I found my community became overly focused on finding me a “shidduch.” I started to feel like I was suddenly defined by my dating prospects and what I “offered” so to speak. The fact that I came from a single parent home, or that my family wasn’t well off financially, set my resume to the bottom of the dating pile. I felt objectified by it all.
I remember viewing my life with a built in time clock. By age 22, or the latest 23, I needed to be married. I felt people would start looking at me with pity if I did not fulfill this societal norm.
I often had inner breakdowns at the thought and questioned my self worth. I needed to get married but I also could not control my dating prospects, as being a woman, I needed to be pursued. The constant suggestion of “soon by you, soon by you” rang fresh in my ears. I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere on my own without being reminded of my single status.
I believe this struggle describes what many women struggle with in the Orthodox community. We are afraid to be alone. We are afraid of people knowing we feel alone. We are not taught to embrace the independence and use this time to discover our potential. I want to live organically, and meet someone special when God thinks the time is right. I also believe this journey should be filled with curiosity and courage— not anxiety.
I know that certain people refrained from participating in this project for fear of bruising their “shidduch image” and I understand that. However, I can no longer hide behind my dating resume. I must live for myself.