First off: my family. I love them. And there are a lot of them to love. I'm the oldest of 4 children. I have a total of 75 first cousins on my dad's side (73 still living) and at least 20 first cousins/step-cousins on my mom's side of the family. Here's a visual for you from our 2009 family reunion (Dad's side). Keep in mind that probably only 1/3 to 1/2 of the family makes it to the reunion, and not everyone in attendance is in this picture:
But if, like me, you don't fit the mold, it's kind of easy to feel like a failure. It took me a lot of years to realize that marriage is not about being able to check the box next to "get married" on your list of things to do in life. And raising children is not about being able to check a box, either. Both are about relationships and expressions of love. And, again, it took me a long time to figure that out, due to watching so many people get married all my life (and some other factors). I did have several cousins get married later in life (and by "later," I mean over the age of 27). They were old. And I laugh at that now, because it's actually not old at all. But when you're 13 watching cousins get married at 19 or 20, an age like 32 or even 28 seems ancient.
I admit (sheepishly) that I participated in conversations contemplating the possible reasons so-and-so had not found a partner yet or if so-and-so would ever get married. I imagine I'm probably the topic of such conversations these days. And that's okay, because maybe, just maybe they will be able to see what I've managed to do with my life "on my own." I'm not a failure just because I haven't found a marriage partner yet. In fact, I consider myself a success because I have been able to make it this far without being married. The only thing I'm lacking is the experience of having a coupled relationship and children. That's it. In all other respects, my life is a lot like any married person's (as far as I've been able to tell).
Like a lot of people, I've experienced conversations with grandparents talking about "wanting grand-babies" as well as aunts and uncles constantly asking if I'm dating anyone. I always had to stifle my laughter when the follow-up question to my "no" response was "Well, why not?" Now, if a man was a box of cereal I'd decided not to buy at the grocery store, I might have been able to answer that. But, as it was, I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "I don't know." Then, at this point, the person often decided to make sure they hadn't wounded my ego with that somehow - usually with a comment like "Those boys don't know what they're missing." Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, a good question to find out those juicy "dating" details (or lack of) without possible awkward pauses goes like this: "How is your social life?" You see, this way I can choose whether to tell you about the boy I've been seeing OR about the recent hiking trip I took with my girl friends. And you still get an honest answer to your question. Win-win.
I don't have room here to talk about ALL of the great things about my family (I'll throw some in here and there where I can). They really are a great support to me. However, it took me awhile to see it as support instead of pressure. It was really freeing to turn things around and see them from that perspective. So now I just imagine that my family has let go of marriage expectations (and with it, pressure) for me, and that they are there for me to support me as a person - as a family member they love. And that's the attitude I have for them as much as possible - that I love them and support them in their own dreams and goals and all their circumstances. It's not always easy to keep this attitude, but it sure makes family relationships a lot better because I'm dealing with so much less resentment and all of those other less-than-desirable feelings.