I’ve always been the single one in my friend group. Even back in high school, when my other friends would have some significant other to hold hands with on their way to AP European History, I was holding hands with my textbooks or a giant bag of cookies I smuggled out of the cafeteria. Nothing really changed as I transitioned into college, and I was always on the outside looking in.
My friends kept notching up higher numbers of relationships and experiences, as I honed my experience as a professional third wheel.
And it can be frustrating.
It can be frustrating to always be “that guy” who goes stag, or gets a photo with all the friends, instead of with an significant other. But while it can be mindblowingly annoying, it doesn’t really say anything truly profound about you (or me, for that matter).
Yeah, we are single, and we’ve been single for a long time. But what does that mean? It doesn’t mean we are unattractive, boring, lame, unfunny, or dumb. It just means that we haven’t yet stumbled into someone that is the right fit for you. And it can be hard to see other people have these cool experiences, but it’s not like we are falling behind. Having tons of relationships can help you figure out what you’re looking for, sure, but it can also get you into bad habits that are hard to break once you finally find “the one.”
Singleness is just a state of being, like what color shirt you are wearing, or what hair style you are currently sporting. It isn’t inherently good or bad, it is totally value neutral! And yeah, it isn’t always comfortable, especially when you feel ready to try something else, but you can always make the best out of it. You can always make something good out of it.
And rejection hurts. I’m sure some of us are single, and have tried to partner-up with some people who were super special to us. That’s hard, and it sucks. Getting rejected romantically has taken on this weight in modern society that can make us doubt our own self-value—and that isn’t fair to ourselves. Romantic love is a unique type of emotion that we aren’t capable of feeling toward every person, and every person isn’t capable of feeling toward us. Again, being rejected has nothing to do with our total value as humans—which is always, always high.
And here’s the crazy catch, right? For those of us who are career-single people, we are rejecting people too. We are contributing to our singleness, because we know that a relationship is a big f*cking deal, and we’re taking it seriously. That is not a bad thing. There also isn’t anything bad about experimenting and trying different partners on for size, but there is something cool and remarkable about ALSO realizing that people’s feelings and hearts are serious business that we don’t want to screw around with.
So yeah, when I’m walking down the street with my friends, and they all line up next to each other, and I’m stuck alone in the back—it blows. But our life can’t be about the parts that blow, it has to be about the parts that are awesome. And no matter your relationship status, you are awesome.