If you asked me to describe who I am today in three words, the first one I’d pick would undoubtedly be “independent.” I might then hesitantly add “kind” and I’d probably struggle a bit deciding on a third, but the first one would roll off of my tongue almost instantly. It’s a word that others have used to describe me throughout my entire life and, though I didn’t pay much attention to it at first, I’ve grown to like it quite a bit. It’s come to be something that defines me.
Having this view of myself causes me to act differently and to have a different attitude towards certain things than others. Those who don’t share this quality seem to be shocked by it, which I usually take as a compliment. Too often, though, I’m met with sad puppy dog eyes or condolences for lifestyle choices that I actually enjoy. I face rude comments or criticism for actions that I personally feel reflect my strength as a person rather than some type of inability to connect with others.
I don’t know why people are intimidated or offended by the fact that I’m so independent, but I don’t see it as a negative thing at all. Still, along with all of the great experiences it brings to my life, it also brings a variety of nay-sayers. Here are five independent behaviors I am often criticized for.
1. Living alone
When I announced to friends and family that I was planning on buying my first piece of real estate, the same two words came out of every single person’s mouth: “By yourself?!” At first I was just asked over and over why my boyfriend wasn’t moving in with me. After we broke up there was a slight shift in the questioning, but I was still faced with the constant “Well, you’re going to get a roommate, right? You can’t possibly live there all by yourself.”
This truly baffled me, and still does today. I’ve been living in my own place for a little over a month now, and I just don’t understand the need for a roommate or any type of living companion. I love having my own space. I love listening to music whenever I want to, and having the silence to read when I want to. I love sleeping diagonally in my queen-size bed (yes, it really is all that it’s hyped up to be on Instagram). I’m not the type of person to get scared of noises in the middle of the night, and I don’t live in a particularly bad area. I keep busy and go out often, and coming home to an empty place is a dream come true for me.
I don’t feel the need for constant human contact or someone to tell my every thought to. I just like my me-time. I’ve found that people either completely understand this, or don’t understand it at all. And the ones who don’t understand it can live with as many people as they choose to, but all this time I currently have to myself is something I’ll continue to cherish.
2. Going to weddings alone
…or restaurants, movie theaters, family outings; basically any place where you’re expected to have a date. I have so much more fun at weddings alone than when I bring a date with me. And no, it’s not because I get to scope out all of the single guys in attendance. It’s because I have time to focus on my friends and the two people whose big day it is.
Once in a while I’ll bring platonic friends to events with me, but if my buds are busy and I want to try that new Italian place down the street from my office, I’m gonna go to the new Italian place by my office. I have no problem sitting at a table with a candle in front of me and no one on the other side of it. And while I’m fine with being seen out alone in public, I’m certainly not fine with missing out on a cool new experience just because I feel like I need someone to drag along with me.
I’ve gotten so many strange looks from both people I know and people I don’t when I take myself out on dates or sit at a guest’s table with an empty chair beside me. But even this judgment from others can’t make me falter. I have no shame in being able to enjoy myself without someone on my arm. Sure, I may have to sit out a slow dance or two, but my feet need a break by that point anyway. Besides, if I really wanted a dance partner, I’d get up and find one. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Pursuing men I’m interested in
The various reactions I get on this one are actually pretty amusing. On any given night I can walk up to a guy in a bar and ask for his number, and have different bystanders laugh, praise, and call me some pretty sexist names all at the same time.
I don’t know why this action seems so weird to people. Maybe it’s just more uncommon than I thought, but I personally see absolutely nothing wrong with letting someone know I’m interested in him. I’m not the girl who’s going to stand at the end of the bar and stare at a guy until it’s time to go, looking back longingly and wondering if he actually thought I was cute or not. I’m going to walk across the room and say something along the lines of, “Hey, I think you’re cute. Are you interested?”
Other girls seem to have a big problem with this and, being that the guys I’m going after are single, I don’t understand why. They shower me with dirty looks and a lot of guys standing by either snicker or assume that I’m throwing myself at the fellow, clearly easy. No, I’m not a whore, I’m just confident. I’m also the type of woman who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants.
4. Rejecting men I’m not interested in
So I’m clearly pretty good at knowing what I want and going for it. Care to know what else I’m good at? Knowing what I don’t want. While I know that first impressions aren’t everything, I can usually get a good sense of who someone is or whether we have a good connection shortly after meeting them. If a guy comes up to me and shows interest, I’m not going to string him along all night long, draining his wallet accepting free drinks and throwing fake smiles his way. I mean, unless that was the type of night my friends and I were planning on having in the first place…wink wink.
I will typically tell a guy that I’m not interested as soon as I realize it’s true. This might happen immediately after we meet, or it might happen a month into us going out and talking to one another. The point is, I’m very open with my emotions as soon as I become aware of them and I’m not willing to deceive someone just to spare his feelings or to spare myself an awkward conversation.
I try to be straightforward about pretty much everything without being harsh (“kind” was my second word to describe myself, remember?) because I feel that dancing around an issue or avoiding an uncomfortable conversation just wastes the time of everyone involved. I’ve been called cold-hearted, a bitch, stuck up, and even been accused of being a player when I told guys I didn’t think things between us were going to go anywhere. This used to get to me and I’d end up feeling guilty, but now I realize that I should never be sorry for saying no to something that just isn’t right for me. Besides, I think the name-calling and outrage say a little bit more about the rejected than the rejecter in this type of situation.
5. Being happy without a relationship
As an independent woman I have no shame in saying I make use of some popular dating apps. Aside from the cheesy pickup lines and the straightforward, offensive requests for sex, the thing that bothers me most of all is this one simple question: “Why (or, for my less grammatically equipped gentlemen, How) are you single?” I know this is meant to be a compliment, and for the most part I do take it as one, but I also find it slightly offensive.
First of all, you don’t know anything about me besides what my face looks like, so to be baffled that a girl you find attractive is single kind of makes it seem like you think all relationships are based on physical appearance and nothing more. Secondly, what possible answer could I give to this question that you’d find acceptable? I’m single because I’m a psycho. I’m single because my photos are all photoshopped and I’m actually gross…I mean, what are you getting at here? When I do actually give the real answers, the inquisitor always seems to be a bit disappointed. Why am I really single? Well, for one, there’s no one currently in my life who makes me want to not be single, and I’m not willing to settle. And, two, maybe I just like being single.
Historically, relationships haven’t brought me a whole lot more than stress, pain, and anxiety, and so I enjoy a good break from them when it comes along. Also, I really value having time to myself (see “Living alone” section, above). I’m not in a relationship because I don’t feel the need to be. I’m not in a relationship because there are other parts of my life that are currently higher on my priorities list. I’m not in a relationship because the right person hasn’t come along yet and I’m taking my time trying to find him so that I can really get it right this time. Why are you single, man who is shirtless much more often than not, based on his profile pictures?
I’ve gotten to that point in my life where I’m really appreciative of everything and everyone I have. I’ve learned to love myself and I’ve made some big career and life moves that I’m proud of. I enjoy doing things on my own, but what I enjoy even more is that I have the ability to do so many things on my own. I may not always have that luxury, or I may not even have the desire at some point in my future. So I’m going to enjoy this independence to the fullest for as long as I can. It’s unfortunate that some people can’t appreciate this for what it is, and that they feel the need to openly mock or condemn my actions. Luckily for me, being confident and independent means I don’t give a sh*t what anyone else has to say about me.