“So how’s the love life?”

That awful question, usually asked by some well-meaning aunt at a family event. Oh, it’s not that we MIND answering. It’s just that she’s the fifth person to have asked this evening.

Being single in your twenties can make you feel like you’re constantly having to prove yourself to others. Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m happy. No, I haven’t met the right person yet. Yes, I’m fine with that. Even though Irish couples are now getting married far later – the average age of an Irish bride is now 32, and for grooms it’s 34 – there’s still that unspoken expectation that we should be thinking of settling down by now.

What we need to realise though, is that our twenties are a time when we should be embracing our lack of ties. These years are the ones we should be using to make whatever decisions we want – bad or good. If you’re single with no significant other to consider – that’s a good thing, not a stumbling block. Our twenties are the years that we should be figuring ourselves out, and there’s no better way to do that than by being by ourselves.

It was once believed that our brain was fully developed by our early twenties and that by 21 we were fully-fledged adults. Research published by the Wall Street Journal however shows that our brain development is still unfinished during early adult years.

The period between 18 – 29 is now being termed our “emerging adulthood” – the transitional time when we are still moving from one stage of life to the next. So, if you’ve ever thought “Is THIS adulthood?” you can calm down a little because you’re not quite there yet.

Relationships can be tricky, especially in your twenties. One thing that any single twenty-something needs to accept is the sorry truth that you will fall for at least one guy that is totally, utterly wrong for you. In fact, it probably won’t just be one. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Having your heart broken mightn’t seem like a barrel of laughs at the time but if you come out the other end realising that you’ll never settle for less than what you deserve, well, that’s a pretty solid life lesson.

Being single – whether you’ve just gotten out of a long-term relationship or whether you’ve never really had one – can sometimes feel a bit lonely. Other friends or colleagues seem to have their act together, why can’t you? But being single should never be about feeling alone or unwanted – you have your independence, you can make decisions that benefit you and only you, and you know what it is to love yourself for exactly who you are. That’s powerful stuff.

Make the most of your twenties, whatever your relationship status. Our generation has been given a get out of jail free card for this decade – unlike our parents and grandparents, settling down in our twenties is just one option out of many. Don’t force things – just roll with the punches and enjoy the process!