by: Kara Crawford
So, you’re single. Society, of course, tells you there’s obviously a problem with you, because everyone in their right mind over the age of 12 should so obviously be partnered, and if they’re not, they need to be actively looking and/or miserably depressed that they are single, right? Wrong. What society neglects to inform us is that being single is actually secretly awesome.
There are plenty of reasons why it’s true, but as an absurd number of pieces of the global political economy depend on the institution of marriage (monogamous heterosexual being the favored form, though exceptions can be made) staying alive and well, we only get a partial story – that singleness is undesirable.
Understandably, though, there are times when you’re in the midst of a a time of singleness of your life and it’s difficult to articulate what’s so great about about being single. Fear not; I’ve compiled a list of reminders as to why it really is great to be single. Use them as mantras, share them, do what you want; these are ours to claim and ours to live!
1. You’ve got enough awesome commitments as it is.
Think about it – you’ve likely either got a job you like or you’re studying something you’re really passionate about. If you’re not fortunate enough to have one or both of those, you’ve probably got a phenomenal group of friends who really give you something good in your life. Why would you need to pack a relationship on top of that? Enjoy what you’ve got, because being single allows you the flexibility to really pack it in.
2.You’re free to do what you want, with whom you want, jealousy-free.
Ever had or witnessed one of those terrible relationships where one partner was jealous about everything, like when the other hung out with someone they might reasonably be attracted to? Being single takes care of that. I’m a notorious flirt and love cuddling with just about anyone or anything, so a jealous partner would just have a messy end for me. Singleness frees me from the drama of it all.
3. “Happily ever after” doesn’t happen in real life, anyway.
Here’s a secret: Disney, Hollywood, and fairy tales lied. Love definitely exists and is possible, but the sort of perfection told in such stories which we’re led to believe is the ideal just doesn’t happen. There is no reason that this fact should keep you from love, but it could certainly help ward off the feeling of failure society teaches us to associate with singleness.
4. People make awesome friends!
Sure, relationships are great, but dating someone is about an awful lot more than physical aspects – seeing movies together, making dinner, talking and sharing about life. What makes those things particularly great, though is that you don’t have to be dating someone to do them! You probably already have friends who will do all that, and when you’re single, you have more time to spend with your awesome friends.
5. No one makes your decisions for you.
When you’re single, you won’t have as many scheduling conflicts to deal with. You won’t ever have to deal with the pressure of going to your partner’s niece’s eighth birthday party in place of your best friend’s band’s show. Sure, you’ll have the usual spread of scheduling conflicts, but when you’re single you won’t have to give up the things you want to do just to impress your partner’s family or the like.
6. You don’t need any more heartache.
Seriously, there’s enough to be worried about in this world; things that shouldn’t be happening. While loss and sadness is naturally a part of life and love, there are many terrible things which happen in the world which aren’t natural – human rights abuses, war, poverty, and the like. Why, then, do we get more heartbroken over the end of a relationship doomed for failure from the start than we do about such terrible occurrences? It’s time to set our emotional energy to other things.
7. Oh, the places you’ll go.
Much like giving you less scheduling conflicts, being single generally makes you more flexible. Flexibility gives you more opportunity to explore the world around you, sometimes making mistakes, but always learning along the way. This journey can be complicated by having a commitment like a relationship, so being single is definitely a perk in the process.
8. You deserve better than the “next best thing.”
As single folks often feel pressures to find a way to settle down so that they can have whatever semblance they can get of “happily ever after,” some simply settle for the “next best thing.” However, we all deserve better than that. We all deserve nothing less than the best. Being single is great because it means that you haven’t settled and there is still possibility.
9. You can truly be yourself, and can and must love that.
Often while actively searching for relationships, people set aside aspects of themselves for a while which they think might harm their chances with any potential partners. Though I wonder what good this would do if, for a lasting relationship, they would eventually need to surface and be accepted anyway?
Being single allows you to be fully yourself, and also allows you a space to learn to love who you are, quirks and all. It may be cliché to claim that in order to love others you must first love yourself, but I really believe it to be true. You need to love and accept who you are before others can, and before you can fully love them.
10. You’re single, and you live a happy and fulfilling life both in spite of it and because of it.
This may be more close-to-home for female-identified folks, but for those of you who can’t stand the nagging questions of when you’re going to settle down, simply start vocalizing that yes, in fact, you are single, and yes, in fact, you are happy with that. Even if nothing else, it’ll probably quell those questions some.
I had a great-great aunt (well-deserving of both “greats”) who lived to over 100 years old, and she was unmarried her entire life. She lived a happy and fulfilling life. While I know that most people don’t want to be single that long, periods of singleness can have their perks. It’s all about perspective. Together, we can claim, love, and live our singleness to the fullest!
Kara Johansen Crawford is a graduate of DePaul University, with a BA in International Studies and Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies. Kara has been actively involved in activism and community service for much of her life and is particularly passionate about labor justice, queer issues and engaging faith communities on social issues. Kara is currently serving as a Mission Intern with the United Methodist Church at the Centro Popular para América Latina de Comunicación, based in Bogotá, Colombia. Follow Kara on Twitter @revolUMCionaria and on her blog.