Everyone around you is happy. You can hear them laughing, even in your sleep. When you lie awake at night and look at the enormous expanse of sheet and comforter and unused pillows, it’s all you can hear. They are happy, and holding hands, and making plans for things that you will never be a part of. Eventually, their lives will fuse together and you will be unceremoniously phased out. You don’t speak about this, because it’s not a pleasant image, but we all know that people eventually go from being “I” to “we,” and everyone who is not in that “we” sort of falls by the wayside.
You’re going to be left somewhere, and you don’t know exactly where it will be. One day, you’ll wake up, and you’ll be even more alone than you already are.
Everyone tells you that you’ll find someone. They think that this makes you feel better, but it really just reminds you that you have someone to find. That you’re not good enough on your own. That they have all achieved this invisible kind of upgrade that you have not yet been welcomed into. It’s as though they are waving at you from the inside of this incredibly exclusive spa while you dry out in the summer heat. “Someone will let you in,” they say as a towel boy spritzes Evian on their face.
There is an outside possibility that you don’t even want to get in, but that’s beside the point. The idea is that, whether or not you want to be in a couple, everyone around you is going to be increasingly centered around their partnered status. There will be engagements, weddings, children, and entire lives constructed inwards on one another like overgrown ivy. Where are you, the sole weed pushing through the cracks of the pavement? Are you the one that the gardener forgot to pull out, or are you waiting for something to be planted next to you?
“You should sign up for a dating website!” your mother coos, pushing a lock of hair out of your face, “You’re so beautiful!”
Are you, though? And moreover, what does being beautiful really guarantee you, anyway? You know plenty of beautiful people who are in relationships which seem completely devoid of spark or interest or excitement — who only seem to be plodding forth on a steady, downward slope into regret. Maybe that’s projection, but they certainly don’t seem happy. So are you beautiful, but just not beautiful enough to merit you a standard-issue relationship? The idea of being a pretty person who has met some base criteria to be loved seems ridiculous, but people get together for less.
It’s their laughter which kills you. It’s those moments of happiness which cut through your same loneliness like a hot knife through fat. You can’t escape the echo of their joy, the resonating bone-feeling of what it means to be loved. You’re single, and you can accept that. Everyone else has someone, and you can accept that. You have to go to their weddings, and buy them gifts, and congratulate them. You can accept this, too. But when it’s the middle of the night and something really, really funny happens, you have no one there to laugh with. And that, it seems, you can’t accept.