I’m 25 and single.
And I love it that way, for now.
I originally wanted to – and actually did – write an article titled “20 reasons to love being single in your 20’s”, but I didn’t publish it.
As I was writing it, I couldn’t help but notice how it seemed like I was desperately trying to prove a point in an attempt to justify the fact that I am single (which then implies that there is something wrong with being single – which there is not).
I am okay with being single – in fact, I am more than okay with it. But for some reason, people don’t believe me when I say it (or when any singleton says it, for that matter).
The typical conversations with non-single friends go like this:
Them: “So are you seeing anyone at the moment?”
Me: “Nope, not at the moment.”
Them: “Still not?”
Me: “Yup… still not.”
Me: “But it’s totally okay! I don’t really want a relationship right now. I’m quite happy with my life as it is.” (There I go sounding like I’m trying to justify it)
Them: (giving me the ‘feel-sorry-for-you-and-don’t-believe-you’ eyes)
Me: “No really! I’m quite happy.”
Them: (still not believing me) “Okay….”
Me: (cleverly and subtly change topic to the current conditions of the weather)
The sad reality is that when you are single and over a certain age, people assume there is something wrong with you. Either, you must be too picky, carrying too much baggage, secretly psychotic, a commitment phobic, too desperate (thus scaring all the men away), too easy (no one wants to commit to something that comes across as ‘cheap’), or just plain weird.
An even sadder reality is that we singletons seem to assume the same about other singletons that we cross paths with.
I meet men and their first response is usually: “Why are you single? You’re attractive, smart, funny… why don’t you have a boyfriend?” In other words: “There must be something wrong with you…” Because, of course, no woman is single out of choice – right?!?!
I can’t even claim to be innocent of these awful assumptions either. I find myself thinking these same thoughts about other singletons I meet as well.
But the thing is, I know these things to be vastly untrue. I have plenty of beautiful, intelligent, interesting, fun-loving girl friends who are completely sane and single out of choice – not because they didn’t have options. And the same applies to men.
So why do we view each other with suspicion? Why is single-ness so under celebrated and unappreciated?
Society has created a culture where the only reason to celebrate being single is the ‘freedom’ you can experience getting to sleep with many different people without the obligation to commit to any of them. Yet is this sexually promiscuous ‘freedom’ really the only reason to celebrate being single? Is Barney Stinson honestly the only role-model singletons can look up to with admiration and say “Yeah! Being single is awesome!”
What about those of us who do not participate in this casual hook-up culture? Are we automatically assigned to the SAD (Single And Desperate) category?
In the article I originally wrote, I began to list all the reasons I am enjoying being single at this time of my life. They were reasons such as being able to pursue my dreams, focus on myself and what I want out of life (for perhaps the first time in my life), do what I want, wear what I want, and travel the world.
That sounds completely selfish, doesn’t it?
But why does it have to be selfish? It’s just the truth.
For those of you who are happily in relationships and have families, your lives are in a different place to mine and naturally you want and need to factor in other people in your decision-making processes. But I have no one to factor in, and so I need to make my own decisions – ones that are best for me and me alone. Does that make me selfish?
And sure, I could potentially do all those things with a partner – provided that his dreams and goals aren’t conflicting too much with my own. But I haven’t found that person yet, and in this stage of my life I want to know that I am making decisions that are true to me; that have direction and goals with the purpose of achieving certain outcomes in my life and that will lead me to my dreams being realized. I have made the mistake in the past of laying down my dreams and goals because I fell in love with someone (well, at least I thought I was in love) whose dreams weren’t compatible my own. Call me picky or stubborn, but I don’t want to do that again.
I’m not saying that I’m not open to meeting someone – I am. What I am saying is that I think the current status of being single needs to be respected and more appreciated than it currently is. Singleness needs to be redefined from ‘the waiting period before I meet someone’ to ‘the time where I get to become who I was always meant to be and build my life accordingly’.
Our value shouldn’t be defined by our relationship status. As a single man or woman of any age, you are no less capable of love or of being loved than someone who is in a relationship or who is married. Your worth is not determined by someone else’s capability to love or commit to you. Your worth and value is decided entirely by you and you alone – by your decision to love yourself. The degree that you allow yourself to be loved by others is determined by the degree you allow yourself to love yourself. Only you can set the standard for how people treat you and value you.
So, instead of us seeing our own and each other’s ‘single’ status as a something negative, I suggest we begin to encourage those around us who are single. Encourage them to pursue their dreams, to not hold back, to achieve their goals, and become the person they have always wanted to be – instead of expecting them to wallow around waiting for someone to ‘rescue them’ and sweep them off their feet. We all need encouragement because, after all, no man is an island.
I’d like to see a culture develop where the single ‘heroes’ are not the Barney Stinson’s, but rather people who are happy with the place in life they are in and working toward becoming who they ultimately want to become – where being single is seen as a respected and celebrated status, rather than a suspicious and unstable one.
Again, as I am writing this, I cannot help but feel that I sound defensive or like I’m trying to justify my singleness. I’m not. I would just like for everyone to stop complaining about being single or seeing singleness as a weakness. Let us rather redefine it’s benefits and see it as the powerful state that it is: a chance to take control and gain power and authority over your own life. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your ducks in a row … so that when another healthy and powerful person does come along, you will be just as healthy and powerful to create an equal partnership with them.
And even if someone doesn’t come along, you will be okay – because you have built the life you’ve always wanted anyway.