In Defense of the State of Being Single
or, Accept that There is Nothing Shameful in the Lack of a Frivolous, Empty Relationship, and Enjoy your Life!
Note: I wrote this article for publication in my school newspaper. Thus, a paragraph I had about masturbation was condemned to oblivion. Just remember that if lack of sex is your primary qualm with being single, masturbation can help alleviate this. It also includes health benefits such as stress relief for when your friends are causing drama because of their relationships.
If I had a nickel for every time one of my friends bemoaned being single (i.e. not in a relationship with somebody), I wouldn’t have to fill out FAFSA. But alas, I neither have enough money to pay for tuition without federal aid, nor am I spared from teenagers unloading their angsty frustration with dating.
Not to detract from the real problem of teenage depression, but many a time it seems that the sole reason for, or at least a significant contributor to, the depression of teenagers is that they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancée (I use this last term loosely as I’ve yet to see any of these “engagements” come to fruition.) You’d think the idea never occurred to anyone at all that it’s possible to be happy and alone (like me!).
This is, however, perfectly understandable given the prevalent portrayal of romance in American popular culture. Think of classic songs like “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” or “All You Need is Love” which essentially send the message to American youth that we are completely worthless if we are not somebody’s significant other (after all, “there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done,” so you couldn’t possibly gain a sense of personal fulfillment through, say, human rights activism if you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend, right?). When the message blasted at us through movies, songs, television shows and books is that the only channel to living a fulfilled and happy life is through a significant other, it is perfectly natural to be depressed sometimes.
But we have a choice. Here’s a concept: think for yourself. We don’t have to buy into what is fed to us on a daily basis as the only way to be happy. We can decide for ourselves what to do with our lives and to create our own meaning and happiness, and we can learn to recognize flaws in the idea that relationships automatically lead to happiness.
Consider that it’s better to be single than to be in an emotionally abusive relationship. Think of all the unloved teenagers who, desperate, have thrown themselves into a relationship that left them in tears more often than not, or worse. The fear of being alone should not drive us to be with people who do not make us any happier.
I will not deny that it is a fact of human nature that we inherently feel the need to find a mate to spend our lives with and that there is a void if that need is not fulfilled, but ask yourself: what do you really want from a relationship as opposed to what Hollywood tells you to want? What is the void you’re trying to fill? Is there really no other way to fill it? Maybe you just want somebody who shares your interests so that you can go to anime conventions/independent theaters/concerts/the zoo with them. Is that a void that finding a good friend can’t fill?
Taking up a new hobby or some other fulfilling activity can also help to fill the void. How about organizing a creative fundraiser for organizations that help people in developing nations? Learning a new skill like piano or horseback riding? There may be nothing you can do that can’t be done, but there are things to do that somebody isn’t doing. Somebody needs to save the whales and play the concertos and bring joy and light to this planet, and if you stop moping and do something you can be that person.
There is more than one path to a happy, fulfilling life. You may not be able to replace cuddling and kissing (or as the Brits like to say, snogging, which I find a much more crass and therefore better-suited word), and I concede now that it may be impossible to fill whatever void you may have completely, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be any happier if we are able to fill some part of that void on our own. You just have to try and keep telling yourself “someday I will meet someone I will fall madly in love with, but today is not that day, and that’s perfectly okay.”