I’m Single, Not Alone (Yes, There’s A Difference)

Relationship status? Single. Check.

It’s something that is so effortlessly checked off and filed away into my brain, that most times I don’t even think about it. It’s not something, in my opinion, that requires any extra pondering. Except for one time of the year.

The nights are crisp and cool, decorations adorn every house in the neighborhood, and the familial cheer of the holiday season hangs in the air. However, along with all that spirit comes something else. I’m pretty sure we’re all too familiar with that dreaded list of questions that distant relatives bring up annually, without fail, whenever you meet over the holidays.

It starts out innocent enough with the general greetings.

Hi! How are you? Do you remember me? I remember holding you when you were just a baby.” 

To which you mentally reply with, “No, I don’t remember you. I’m pretty sure no human on earth recalls memories as a baby.” But instead you say, “Of course! Nice to see you. How are you?”

Once you get past the regular formalities, it’s into the deep prodding of your personal life and wellbeing.

“So, how’s school? How’s your major? Are you working any jobs?” 

You give your respective answers and then the dreaded, but inevitable: “So, are you dating anyone?” Or better yet, “Have you met someone?”

Have I met someone… Hm… Friends? Yes. Professors? Yes. New sorority sisters? Yes. But of course, you know that’s not what they’re getting at. So you equip your tight smile and reluctantly respond with the same answer as last year. Somehow, it feels as if you’re disappointing them with your reply when they let out their dismayed-but-trying-to-be-polite, “Oh. Well, good for you.” 

In so few words, they’ve managed to make you feel ashamed for something that is completely normal. You can’t help but feel like you’ve failed to achieve some sort of annual goal. The goal of (finally) attaining a significant other. Of no longer being deemed “single.” Which, let me stop you right there, is absolutely ridiculous.

Why is it automatically a disappointment to hear that someone is single? More specifically, when a girl is single? Why has it become an achievement to obtain a boyfriend/girlfriend? I feel like I see this attitude applied to girls more often than boys, too. I never see guys getting belittled for not tying down a girl yet. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s more common in boy world to cheer someone on for being single because it means they have free reign to get at any girl they want.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen all kinds of relationships around me, some involving people I love the most. Some are healthy, some are not. But, the most common thing I see is people getting into relationships because they hate to be alone. Which is the worst reason of all. These people jump from relationship to relationship, never stopping to live without a significant other in their life.

Someone I know once told me, “I don’t know how to be single.” Which at first, I scoffed at. Being a perpetually (yet proud) single girl myself, I thought, “Welcome to my life.” But, once my moment of self-pity died off, I was baffled. What do you mean you don’t know how to be single? You just are single. You’re born single, and unless you’re coincidentally lucky, you’ll probably die single too.

But what does being “single” even mean? When most people think about “single girls,” we tend to resort to the cliché stereotypes (and there’s plenty to choose from): the girl who emotionally eats to oblivion, the girl who’s overemotional and watches sappy movies all the time, the crazy cat lady who is certifiably insane, or the social media savvy girl who’s always claiming to be #foreveralone (these are just a few). It’s as if somehow, we can’t survive without the company of a male in our life. Like being single will turn us into one of these exaggerated personas.

What most people tend to associate with being single though, is being alone. Does it sometimes get lonely not having someone around all the time? Sure. Does being single get old at times? Duh. But being single or lonely does NOT mean we are alone. The thing is, being single has absolutely nothing to do with being alone. There are so many unseen benefits to being single that most people tend to forget amidst their self-loathing pity parties. Being single is being independent. Being single is learning about who you are (as cheesy as that sounds, it’s easy to lose yourself when you’re constantly associated with someone else while being in a relationship; aka codependency). Being single is about earning confidence and learning to love yourself. Being single is not a bad thing. So, it’s about time we stop treating it like it is.

Next time you’re sitting around pouting about being alone for life, or considering joining a convent (jokes), think about all the things you have to learn and experience from being single. You have your whole life ahead of you to be tied down to someone. Right now is about you, and it’s one of the few times in our short lives that we get to be selfish and put ourselves first. There are so many other things I could say about this topic, but I’ll end it here. One of my sorority sisters, Shelby, once said something that resonated with me. “You must first love yourself before you can even understand how to love another.” Empower yourself. Be single and own it.

Until next time,

Katelyn

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