I am going to get super real with you right now.

I have spent a lot of the past month single-shaming myself.

** This is a term I just created (someone else no doubt has also come up with it. Definition: the act of beating oneself up for being single.)

It seems that in the past few months so many people I know have taken big steps in their personal lives. My sister moved in with her boyfriend (YAY!). One of my closest friends is expecting her first child (also YAY!). Another of my close friends just had her first child (she is such a cutie). Another bought a house with her husband (real adult stuff here), and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It started to feel like I should be crossing the threshold into some sort of new personal life territory too. It started to feel like maybe I was missing the moment, like if something important and progressive didn’t happen soon, I would be left behind.

So I’ve been swimming in these thoughts and feelings for the past couple weeks, and though I could not be more excited for my people and all of the incredible things happening for them, things have felt a little less than amazing in casa de Shayna.

But this morning I had an epiphany.

It is July 4, my country’s Independence Day. And that got me thinking. As a country, we fought for our freedom, for autonomy, for the ability to make decisions about the course we wanted to take as a nation. For better or worse, we fought for our independence. And when we got it, we set aside a day to celebrate, to remember that freedom is not guaranteed (though it should be), and we take a moment to reflect on the price we were willing to pay as a nation to stand on our own.

Learning to be independent on a personal level has not been easy for me. I am an artist. The path I take to create and sustain myself is not straight. I have fought for autonomy as hard as I’ve fought for anything. I’ve learned self-respect and self-love. Though I have an amazing support network, I’ve learned to stand on my own two feet and take whatever life throws at me and make the best of it. And it’s been one of the great challenges of my life so far.

So why don’t I celebrate it?

One day, I will meet someone I want to be with for the rest of my life. And I will probably get married. And I will start a new journey of learning how to be in a partnership. That is something I deeply desire.

But for now, I have the opportunity to stand in my independence, to relish that which I earned. I can look at the work that I’ve done to be happy in my life on my own and be grateful. I can celebrate myself as a person with a full life, professionally and personally, that is full of both love and autonomy.

Despite that one day I will perhaps be part of a unit, today and every day I can celebrate my independence. Change will come. It always does. But for now, maybe it’s ok to stop and relish in the battles I’ve already won, the changes I’ve already made. Maybe it’s ok today to be exactly where I am.