I Love Being Single

I have been single for about 9 years. It’s been an interesting near decade of ups and downs that I have tackled on my own. While social, I am naturally an introvert. That means that I have also spent a lot of time really getting to know myself.

During that time, I chose to stay single. I also met a lot of awesome friends and found my career path. In meeting new friends (or seeing old ones), I get asked the same questions all the time. “Why are you still single?” or “I never see you dating anyone.”  I know that it’s always out of a good place in their hearts and they want to see me happy. I really do appreciate the kinds thoughts and love. However, it’s that last part that irks me a bit. My response is usually a bit shocking to some people.

I love being single.

Yes, that is correct. Personally, I am so happy when it’s just me. Yeah sure, I have hung out with a couple of guys here and there, but only for short periods of time. The thought of starting something with someone doesn’t invoke positive or exciting emotions for me. I lean closer to dread and anxiety. People have a really hard time grasping the fact that not everyone wants to be with someone.

The purpose of this post is give visibility to two very large misconceptions about what it means to have a happy and fulfilling life:

1. Being in a relationship

2. Having children

For some people, being in a relationship, or with the “one”, is not an end game goal. For a lot other people, or the same people even, neither is having children. Some of us just don’t want that white picket fence life with 2.5 kids. Personally, I think it would be awesome to have kids, but as a gay man, I’ve prepared myself with the fact that will most likely not happen.

You do not need either one of those to be happy or feel fulfilled! I certainly don’t. I said I would love to have kids, but it isn’t the end of my life if I don’t. That doesn’t make me selfish or an asshole. It just means that my happy is different than other people’s happy. My happiness and fulfillment comes in the form of traveling and writing. It also comes from developing myself and my potential while become self-aware of who I am. It can be really frustrating when I open up to people that I am not interested in dating or relationships and they start giving me that shit of “Oh you just haven’t met him yet” or “You’ll meet him when you’re not looking”. That just takes away from my vision of happiness.

I am not looking because I don’t want it! That shit always makes me feel like people think I am one of those single people frustrated with dating and just “done” with everyone. I am not that. I am not frustrated with dating or relationships. I just don’t want them nor do I partake in them.

To dig a little deeper into who I am, I like the intensity and passion of meeting new people. It’s sustaining or working on that love the following days as a relationship is where I check out. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  It just isn’t a fun idea to me. It’s dreadful. To those who know me, that really speaks to my adventurer personality. I also like to keep my time to myself.

I am not interested in getting to know someone on that deep of a level, and vice versa.  Some people probably consider me a high-functioning sociopath, but I am okay with that. When it comes to the sex, I do not need to be in a relationship for that. I can meet guys for casual sex (being a gay man has its perks) or just jerk off. I especially love having sex with someone when we are initially attracted to each other. That stage is the hottest. After that I get bored. I don’t like the routine of it all and I like being able to flirt and have crushes on whomever I want.

I want people to understand that I’m happy. I am so happy. I know what I like and what I don’t. This free-spirit life, not being attached to any one person or thing, is who I am. I am not looking for my “other half” because I am not a half. I am a full person. A happy person.

Look, I think relationships are great for people who want to be in them. I respect that a great deal (the good ones, anyway) and I really do hope that those who are on the hunt for love find what they are looking for.  It just isn’t my cup of tea. So please don’t force that shit down my throat. Let me just be.

I make myself happy. I fulfill my own life. I don’t need anything more than that. I’ve found that the greatest love of all comes from learning to love yourself. Actually, Whitney Houston found that. I just believe it.

Single On Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. One of the most hated “Hallmark holidays” ever created. Say Valentine’s Day to a single person and you may get some hostility and bitterness. I know from experience that people in the food service industry also loathe it. Seriously, who the fuck goes out to eat on the busiest day of the year next to Mother’s Day? Just stay home and have sex.

Being single, especially on Valentine’s Day, is tough. A lot of us grow up expecting that we are supposed to find “the one,” settle down, and be happy before a certain age. That is the life plan for almost everyone. For those who haven’t found that, Valentine’s Day is a nice reminder of that failure. For some people, it’s some serious business that invokes all kinds of feelings from anger to loneliness.

How can you tell? Just go on social media on Valentine’s Day. Boy, talk about some pissed off people! My Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with single people sharing their anger with today.

Speaking of being single…

Last night I went to see the movie “How To Be Single” with some friends. It was a really funny movie (Rebel Wilson is in it, hello!) with a powerful message disguised in there. I learned that we are all in relationships from this movie. We are in relationships with our parents, siblings, friends, pets, co-workers, etc. Some of us found their romantic relationship, and some of us are still looking.

I believe the most important relationship you can have is with yourself. Yes, you have to love yourself and be happy with the person you are before you can even begin to make someone else happy! You have to be truly happy with yourself first.

How can you do that? The first thing is to get away from everyone. Take small trips by yourself. Go on vacations. Take a break from all of the relationships you currently have and just enjoy your own self. Oftentimes, we have to play a part or put on a different face for the people in our lives. Find out what your face looks like when it’s just you.

If you feel lonely when you are by yourself, then you may not be in good company. That is where you need to start.

Ask yourself: “Who the fuck am I?” You have to say it just like that. Dig deep and take your time here. Humans are complex beings with a range of emotions and feelings. Finding out who you are, what you like, and what makes you tick, is setting up a strong foundation for yourself to eventually build a relationship on. That relationship could be romantic with someone else, or it could be an enlightening relationship with yourself.

How do I know these things? I have been single for about 7-8 years myself. I’ve been spending this time discovering who I am as as a man and a person, and what I could offer someone if I were in a relationship. I am not the same person I was when I became single. I have grown, challenged myself, and uncovered new things I did not know about myself before. Learning about yourself is painful at times, but the payoff is worth it.

I think the most important thing for us to all remember is: Just because you don’t have the love you want doesn’t mean you aren’t loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Caitlyn Jenner and Courage

I learned something new from the conservatives regarding Caitlyn Jenner. Apparently there is only one kind of “courage” in the world. You’re only brave if you served in the military. That’s it.

I always thought of courage being more like a color. There are different shades of colors, not just one. I thought a person going through an intimate process so publicly and giving hope to thousands of people silently suffering and facing hate for who they are is a type of courage too. Imagine how stupid I feel.

No one owns courage. No one has the right to police courage or define it. Everyone is facing a different journey in life which requires a different courage.

Also, don’t believe everything you read (especially memes). ESPN confirmed that this story below was false. Click on the pic for more details.

noah galloway arthur ashe award

Christmas Commercialism

It’s that time of year again! Christmas music is all over the radio, retail stores are putting up their Christmas decorations, and everyone is building out their wish lists and shopping lists. Christmas is upon us.

It is also that time of year where everyone forgets the meaning of Christmas (which is shifty in itself, but that is for another blog post) and loses their souls to commercialism. Retailers bank hard this time of year because customers are stupid. We drive ourselves crazy and broke trying to buy people amazing gifts and hoping for a good return on our investment.

Why? Why does Christmas have to be about that? Why can’t we just celebrate good will toward our fellow man and peace on earth? 

I think that there should be some gift giving. To the kids. Kids deserve to feel that excitement of Christmas morning. We as adults don’t need to break our bank buying each other gifts. That excitement is gone for us. We are aware of the money we spent and what the gift giver spent on us. So why even go through that? Let the kids enjoy Christmas. It’s really for them anyway. 

I actually have a proposition or a wish for Christmas. Instead of buying gifts for everyone, we should fight back against retailers and not buy gifts! Rather, we can use some of that money to go to people who really need it. Families that are homeless or children that are cold and hungry because they are poor. Doing that would really capture the true meaning of Christmas. As for the religious aspect of Christmas, the ones who believe that Jesus was born that day, could really do as they believe Jesus wanted and show love to those who need it.

Either way, this might also help restore our humanity. 

Facebook status: Did some profound thinking today. Despite how Christmas was started, the spirit of Christmas is about good will toward man and peace on Earth. We have certainly strayed from that. I think we have become commercial monsters who believe the spirit of Christmas is gift giving. I propose that we start a revolution. We don’t need to go on a gift buying frenzy to show we care about someone. I do believe that children deserve to enjoy the magic of Christmas though. They should receive gifts. But as adults, let’s cut the bullshit out. It will make a lot more room for love and real good will. For those who believe in Jesus, was that not what he was about? If you really want to buy gifts, you should, for families who need it. A warm coat to a poor child means a lot more than a PS4 would to a privileged kid. So whether you believe in a secular or religious Christmas, the message is always the same. Love. Let’s get back to that. -Valdet Selimaj

Living Single In Gay Detroit

I will admit, at first I was hesitant to write this post. This is pretty personal. Then I though, why not? I am not the only single person out there. I am sure being single weighs on everyone’s mind. That was enough reason for me to go ahead and start writing this piece.

I am a 31 year old gay Albanian man living and working in Detroit. I have a great job, live on my own, and just loving life. I am very health oriented. I work out and eat healthy. I love to travel and want to do it more. I am working toward building a better life for myself and moving forward. I am making goals and reaching them. I come from a very rich and colorful culture which has shaped who I am today.

The only part that sucks is that I am single. Now when you read that, and if you are single as well, you are probably thinking “Yeah being single does suck.” Let me make sure everyone understands this from the beginning: I do not have a problem with being single. I do not need anyone to make me feel complete.

The issue that I do have is that there aren’t any prospects out there. Being gay in Detroit is like trying to do a backstroke in puddle. It is rather pointless. Meeting someone here is so hard. The gay community is very small here so everyone already knows everyone. New faces rarely show up. If they do, they are either “12” or come attached to a boyfriend. Detroit wasn’t always like this. The gay scene was booming and there were so many people in the community! But that was 10 years ago. It has dramatically decreased because everyone has moved away from Detroit to bigger cities.

Being almost 32, I am at that stage where I am a little concerned that I will end up alone, on Grindr, and trolling guys to come over for “$ome fun.” Life is just starting to feel a lot more real now. I would love to go out and meet new people and go on dates. I miss the butterfly in my feeling stomach when someone I like calls or touches me. I could touch myself all day, but I am so used to me that even I pretend to have a headache to get away from me. Ha! I was in love once. That was such an amazing feeling to experience. The last time I was in a relationship was when I was 23-26. I have not really dated anyone since then. I miss having someone to text/call for no reason except that we just wanted to hear from each other.

When I started working in downtown Detroit, I thought that would be a superb place to meet new people! I even downloaded Grindr when I first started to see who was around. I quickly learned that no one I was interested, or they lived on the Canada side, were on. So I deleted that. Going to the gay bars suck here. Even with that, sometimes I will go just on the off chance that I might actually meet someone. I even started working at the mall again partly so I could just meet new people and break out of my life of routine.

I even created an OKCupid account to see who is out there. It’s the same people of course. What are the chances a good looking guy in his early thirties looking for something serious is going to be on there? Not impossible, but not likely either.

Part of the problem is myself. I know that. When I meet people, I can immediately tell if they will fall into the friend zone, or something more. I have never dated friends. Once we become friends, it just will not go past that. I am not the type to develop feelings either. They are there or they aren’t.

Another problem is When I moved to MI, I always said that even though I live here, my soul mate is going to be back in NY. It’s just a feeling I’ve always had. That could be a huge part. Maybe my future husband is in NY? I am going to plan trips down to NY I think. If not for that, just to travel and see friends and family.

I think I am a good guy. My friends say I am a good catch. I’m not the perfect guy, but I think I could make someone really happy. I just feel like I am in the prime of my life and it is all going to waste.

Wish me luck. It’s all going to workout however it’s going to, so at least I know there will be a resolution to this.

Gay Shqiptar?! What?!

Some of you might have read my Facebook and Twitter updates regarding this topic. I have decided to gather my thoughts and feelings into this one blog post. I always strive to give gay Albanians a face, but I don’t want to shove it in anyone’s face on Facebook or Twitter either.

I am an Albanian man. I was born here in the United States. My parents are from Kosova. I also happen to be a gay man. A lot of people might think, so what? What does one have to do with the other? A lot! And not in a good way either.

I will be the first to say that I take pride in my ethnicity. I believe, for the most part, that we have a beautiful and rich culture. We do have some antiquated beliefs that boggle my mind a bit. No one is perfect though. The negative views of homosexuality is what I take strong issue with. I have been an out and proud gay man since I was 17 years old. I have definitely faced some challenges from people who had difficulty accepting I am gay.

Out of all of those people who took issue, my own people sadden me. For an Albanian, to say you are gay brings shame to your family. “Zoti” meant for a man and woman to be together.” Not man with man or woman with woman. I’ve argued with my fair share of Albanians because of this. Some even had the nerve to tell me that I am not Albanian because I am gay. I’ve also heard I am a disgrace to Albanians.

You know what is a disgrace to Albanians? Showing intolerance toward your own people and hating them because of the way they were born. I have had my nationality denounced by other Albanians. For quite sometime I was so embarrassed and hated being Albanian that I went by the name “Val Truman.” I didn’t really care to associate with people who hate me and talk shit about me for something I can’t help. As I have matured and gotten older, I have gained a new appreciation of where I come from, and I just dismiss the negativity.

Sometimes it’s hard though. I work with several Albanians, and except for one girl, no one ever talks to me.  They make it really uncomfortable, and to be honest it’s annoying. I’ve said hello, nothing. I sent them welcome emails when they started to make them feel comfortable, nothing. What I do get though is awkward avoidance of eye contact, and obviously uncomfortable feeling when we are in close quarters like an elevator. Not too long ago, one of them had just got married and someone had bought him a Congrats wedding balloon. I walked by it on my way to get coffee and looked it for a second to make out what it said. When I came back around, it was tied down and out of sight. Seriously?

That is the part that really gets to me. I think of the ethnic cleansing that happened in Kosova during the Clinton administration. Many Kosovar Albanians were tortured and slaughtered because of Serbia’s nonacceptance of them. Naturally, one would think that with that disgusting act forever imprinted into our culture’s history, that we would come together and show unity, love, and support for one another. But instead people who are “different” than societal standards (not just gay people) are quick to be judged and not accepted. I understand that most Albanians, regardless of religion, are a devout group. But I think it is forgotten that we are Albanian first.

How are we supposed to have others’ respect us if we cannot even respect ourselves?

Here are a couple of links from threads on Topix.com to check out. They give you an idea of things Albanians like to say to other Albanians who are gay.

http://www.topix.com/forum/world/albania/TFNK23LB2CM195PTG

and

http://www.topix.com/forum/world/serbia/TU56VJBE4M9NM11LD

I think I am a good person. I work hard and put myself through school. I don’t bother anyone. I don’t think I deserve be considered less than anything but a human being.

To be honest, I am pretty fortunate. Over in the old country, forget it! You could get beat up, possibly killed, or forced into marriage of the opposite sex! There is a whole underground world in Albanian, Kosova, and Montenegro that the LGBT community have to live in. At least with me being born and living and America, there are plenty of accepting Albanians. I know it sounds dumb, but I actually really take pride in all of my Albanian friends and have the utmost respect for them. They are much more open and accepting. They like me for me. Everything else is trivial.

I have sort of made it a personal goal to remind my Albanian brothers and sisters that gay Albanians do exist. We are your children, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and whoever else you have in your life. All we want is what you want, to be loved and part of this huge and crazy family called Albanians.