Why are you still single? Why are you still single?
A question that irks even the strongest, most independent and emotionally sound single people I know. It stings like no other, hits the weakest of your weak spots and undermines you faster than you can blink. Naturally, not everybody will care. There are some people who are blissfully single and can think of no greater punishment than being connected to a significant other. And then there are those that aren’t. I think I’m part of the second group, or am I?
The honest answer to this question is that I really don’t know. And that’s not from a lack of trying to understand why. Occasionally I feel like responding to this question with: “Why are you STILL a dick?” but you know, I have to be polite and shit. I (like quite a few people my age, I like to think) have spent many late nights, inopportune daydreams and long car trips trying to understand why I am single. Not so long ago, it wasn’t too much of a problem. It was kind of like a mild itch; annoying, pervasive and somewhat tolerable but very difficult to completely ignore. Now it’s more like a good and proper burn, the kind you’d get from spilling boiling water on yourself; painful, ever-present and raw.
What I realised last week (in the midst of all the Valentine’s Day madness *sigh*) is that actually being single is not where the problem lies. The problem, I’ve noticed, is society not being okay with the idea of you being single. Especially as a female, the questions are inescapable. When are you getting married? Don’t you want kids? You aren’t in love? When are you going to start dating? I don’t care how rock solid you are in your independence, freedom and confidence; somewhere deep inside these questions eat away at you. They force you to back-track and re-examine all you’ve done in life so far and wonder if it’s enough.
There’s no running away from it. You’re a failure if you can’t attract a significant other. That’s putting it very bluntly and it’s obviously absurd but at the core of the matter, that is the idea that we propagate. You’re smart? You’re talented? You’re selfless? You’re beautiful? But you’re SINGLE? What’s wrong with you?! It’s what we all think when we see someone who seemingly has it all. We immediately jump to the conclusion that that person is irretrievably messed up and has failed at one of the most basic things in life. I say ‘we’ because I’m also a culprit. It’s so much easier to spot everything that’s wrong, isn’t it?
Everywhere you look, being alone is seen as the worst possible scenario; single parents are judged unfairly and the race is always on to be on someone’s arm. Social media has been inextricably linked to our lives and is always awash with pictures of happy couples, engagement announcements, wedding photos and romantic dinners. It almost becomes this masochistic ritual to live vicariously through these snapshots of apparent bliss that are so out of reach for you as a single person.
If you’re single, you’re expected to be sad and doing everything in your power to not be single anymore. And if you’re quite happy about your singleness, it’s seen as denial. You can’t possibly be happy. Sigh. Really? I mean, really? There’s this general (and quite fucking offensive really) wave of pity directed at you because my word, you must be so damn lonely! Um, how about no?
And of course, the more out of reach something is, the more you want it. Then you start to wonder if you really are happy, if you really are content, if you really do feel complete, if you really do enjoy your own company more, if you really don’t need a companion to share all those crazy experiences with. And it’s not because you aren’t, the world just says you aren’t and because we’re human, we’re all going to want want to assimilate to some extent.
So, what I’d like to say to all my fellow single people is that it’s actually okay to be single (my brain is telling me that I’m talking absolute shit right now but the reasonable side of me knows that this is true). It’s okay to like it, it’s okay to not like it. It’s okay to crave a huge family with the love of your life one day and it’s okay to just want to blow all your money exploring every path this beautiful earth has to offer.
It’s okay to get occasionally get annoyed by the couples around you and it’s okay to feel a little unsure sometimes. What’s not okay is letting anybody or anything around you make you feel like you’re anything less than you really are because of some archaic definition of what ‘happily ever after’ means.