It confuses me to scroll through my Twitter feed in the morning and see articles listing off a billion and one reasons why ‘being single in my 20s’ is terrifying and why I shouldn’t worry because I’ll survive ‘being single in my 20s’. Of course I’m going to survive, is anyone actually questioning this? These articles are part of the problem. We think finding someone to love us is the ultimate fulfillment; the only means to a happy end. I think it’s time that everyone stopped trying to convince me that I’m going to be fine by promising that my next great love is just around the river bend.
There are moments when my freedom thrills me and I’m thankful to only have myself to worry about. There are moments when I feel impossible to love and I wonder if something’s wrong with me. At times, it’s easy to forget that being lonely is JUST A FEELING; it isn’t a constant state of being. It comes and goes, like joy and pizza cravings. Being in a relationship doesn’t solve those problems. Everybody has to ride the emotional roller coaster whether we are single or not but sometimes riding it alone can teach you things you never knew you never knew.
One night, I was out at the the club with a couple of my girlfriends, tearing up the dance floor in my high-waisted shorts, shaking it all over the place — the next thing I know I’m in the arms of a beautiful man. The kind of man so beautiful I would have been willing to do anything he wanted, dirty or otherwise. He leans in for the inevitable smooch, I die a little bit on the inside. Quickly, I call upon the stockpile of tips for man-wrangling that I’ve accumulated throughout my years of reading Cosmo magazine. Settling on ‘play-hard-to-get’, I dodge his forthcoming lips with a smile I would refer to as ‘coy’ but others might refer to as ‘creepy’. I try to pull him in closer so I can show him some more of my moves but he’s done with grooving so I follow him to the bar. He leans in, talking to the bartender, I wait patiently. After a moment, I slide a couple dollars into his sweaty palm, as if to say ‘I don’t expect you to pay for my drink, I’m just enjoying your company’ like the coolest girl in the world. He turns to me, looking awfully confused, and says, “oh… did you want something?” The horrific realization that his dance floor exodus was an attempt at escaping from me was a low point. I ran for my social life. A club can feel like a desert island when you’ve lost your girlfriends. It was sometime around then that One Direction started playing, so I began to bawl. I spent the rest of the night in a bathroom stall with the $15 cab ride and a night alone to look forward to. Since I was single, there was no man waiting in the wings with a tuxedo jacket to toss over my sweaty, bare shoulders. It was just me, myself and pathetic I.
And hey, I’m still here to tell the story. I didn’t need a man to want my body for the night; I went home alone, ate an entire pizza by myself and slept soundly knowing that I had at least satisfied my carnal desire for cheese and pepperoni. I didn’t need a man to convince me that it would be okay because he still thinks I’m a cool human; it was up to me to convince myself of that.
On the other hand, sometimes being a single girl in the city restores my faith in humanity. There was another night where I went home with a strange boy only to split a box of fried chicken with him and watch Wedding Crashers. And in the morning, he gave me a jacket and thorough directions to get myself home. Being single and down to mingle has its ups and its downs, each experience a valuable anecdote for my memoir one day.
Since I am single, I am consumed with only myself. I’ve been able to discover all the things I can do on my own, without help from anybody. I can decide to make out with the mysterious strangers I meet in bars. Or I can choose to leave the bar early to go home with a box of chicken wings. I can decide that backpacking around the world is something I’d like to do someday soon. I’ve also had the time to really master the art of shaping my own eyebrows, and that makes me genuinely happy. Maybe one day I’ll want a partner who will be there to navigate while I drive, or someone to make me coffee in the morning, but for now, I want to learn how to read the map myself, and I like the way I make coffee because no one else does it quite right. These days, I want to hold my own hair while I vomit after a night out, metaphorically speaking, of course, because that’s the kind of thing that builds character. I want to make my decisions based on what I think and what I want. If I want to wear my six-inch heels and tower over every guy at the bar, I’ll do it.
The truth is that when you’re single, you’re more vulnerable to the bad stuff like loneliness and insecurities. But why aren’t we encouraged to keep ourselves company and to look for beauty when we stare into a mirror? There is no necessary correlation between being part of a duo and being happy. Single people don’t need help or encouragement for going at it alone.
My relationship with me is my number one priority. I don’t care to be defined by the fact that I’m single any more than I care to be defined by the fact that I like wearing nude-colored lipstick these days. I like to think of romance as one of my hobbies. I pick it up when I can, I go on the occasional bender but sometimes I neglect it for weeks on end in favor of other exciting pursuits.
Any energy wasted on being concerned about finding ‘the one’ is too much. The universe will throw your tender heart a bone when the time is right. In the meantime, eat a spoonful of Nutella, text somebody you have a crush on and learn to enjoy living life for one.