On my way to 30. Single. Living alone. With my cat. Yes, I know, I’m basically a walking cliché.

Actually, this setting looks a lot like those movies that I loved watching when I was younger (and I still do) when a beautiful and well settled girl lives alone in a small and cosy apartment where she comes back to at the end of the day from her work at a bookstore. The thing is that this girl from the movie is always in love, recovering from a broken heart, about to know the love of her life or all of it at the same time. Falling in love seems to be the central idea of most movies; actually, of most of our lives, and that can be a real problem.

Yes, because one thing is in your 20’s. Another is in your 30’s, when people around you start marrying and innocent comments like who knows who is a grandmother seem like accusations. Or when your own mother advises you to use social media and is always extremely interested in the number of single guys at the dinners you go to. When this happens, it’s easy for you to start feeling like everyone meets someone but you.

Because it sounds easy, doesn’t it? I blame it on the movies. Who gets to know the love of their life in line for coffee? Or who has ever bumped into a stranger and fallen in love at first sight? And we all have those lucky friends who have been dating since the age of 14 and have just had a baby. Or that work colleague who went to India for vacation, met an American, fell madly in love and now lives in Denmark.

It’s their fault and ours for not been able to adapt our standards and expectations to the speed at which things change and the time we live in. At a time that, unequivocally, we do not know or relate in the same way we did before, perhaps it would be pertinent to question our models and leave behind some patterns that no longer seem to make much sense.

Falling in love and watching a family grow is part of my plans and goals for the future, but what if it didn’t? What if it doesn’t happen? Shouldn’t we be changing anything here? The idea that being alone only happens to those who are not able to find someone and that it is reason enough to be extremely unhappy is one of them. Being single is as much a valid option as it is being in a relationship and what makes me happy is not the same that makes you happy. And does it really make sense, this traditionally notion of family?

I can see that it did (many) years ago, but shouldn’t we look at it now from a wider angle? Leaving blood and marriage contracts aside and be more about the people we really want to sit at our table? Those to whom we call when we need help and who are as happy for us as they would be for themselves? I’m not saying we should cut off that aunt we only see from year to year from the family photo, but that we should make room for our childhood friend or that person we met last year and who has done more for us than half of the “official” family. To remind ourselves that family is a giant and generous word where we can fit so much more than blood and where there are millions of ways to be fully happy and fulfilled. Some are perfect for me, others for you, and none is more certain or correct than another. And that’s all just fine.

This post was originally written in Portuguese. Click here for the Portuguese version.