Why I Love Being Single, and When I Don’t

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve had a proper rant. Running around the UK has kept me so occupied I haven’t had time to get offended in a while. Or, almost no time to be offended, anyway.

It seems that whether I am in the US or the UK, Valentine’s Day is going to find me. Lately, the shop windows have been full of pink and red and hearts and chocolates and it’s quite frankly making me sick. And admittedly, just a little bit sad.

Here’s the thing, though. Most of the time, I actually love being single. I know a lot of people say that, and you instantly think they’re this giant sad sack who spends their time eating ice cream and adopting cats or something, but I genuinely mean it. I’m 19 years old, for heaven’s sake! What do I want with long term commitments that extend past the deadline for my next paper? Why should I be tied down to someone who doesn’t even know who he wants to be yet? Being single means spending time with your girls, going out and getting just a little bit crazy every now and again. It means smiling at that cute guy in the street and knowing there’s no harm in it. It means having no one (but the law, of course) to answer to for your actions. Maybe I’ve just not had the best experiences with relationships, but frankly at this stage of the game, they’re just exhausting. I mean, yes, kissing is nice. But only sometimes. Other times I would really rather curl up in bed with a good book and the promise of tomorrow, rather than trying to figure out how to tell the boy I want to go home and no, actually, I DON’T want to make out right now. Again. Frankly most of the time, it’s a hassle I can do without.

And then there’s Valentine’s Day. With the cards, and the hearts, and the ads involving cute little couples holding hands. When you’re single, that kind of sucks. Every year, it’s this reminder staring me in the face for the several weeks they spend advertising for it. Sure, they’re encouraging people to spend money on gifts, but what they seem to be saying is, “You there! Remember this time last year? And the year before that? Remember how you were single then, too?” It’s like New Year’s, but for my love life. I’m forced to check in for change and realize that nothing has. At all. Same old, same old. And that’s even true when I’m in ENGLAND and romance should be the LAST thing on my mind. I’ve got mountains to climb, places to see… what do I care about getting chocolates from some stupid guy?

Except that obviously, I kind of do. I mean, it’s a little impossible not to when you’re being bombarded with it from every angle. I don’t just mean Valentine’s Day, either. Love is this integral part of our culture these days–it’s a central theme in movies, in books, on TV, on the radio, all over the internet. It’s like people forget there’s something to be said for just being YOU. We’re not all walking around half formed or anything, so why are we always acting like it? The honest truth is, I look at myself and I see someone who is doing just fine. I’m happy, even.

In fact, I worry about upsetting that balance with some stranger who gets to decide half of everything for the rest of forever. I think “I want to get married here,” or “I want to honeymoon there” and then I remember I’m not the only one who’s going to be there (at least, I hope not). Marriage is actually kind of terrifying, when you think about it.  It’s about a melding of identities, of taking “me” and turning it into “we” and all of that. And someday, that’ll be great. But right now? I’d rather buy my own chocolates, hop on that plane, and head off wherever I want without having to tell someone I love him first when probably, I don’t even mean it. Not yet.

So basically what I’m driving at is this: being single is one of those things that’s both terrifying and wonderful. Kind of like hopping on a plane and flying eight hours to another country, actually. And no, you’re not always going to be happy that you have the freedom to do whatever you want, because sometimes a hand to hold sounds better. But there’s also no reason to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, either. So this Valentine’s Day, if you’re single, just remember you are NOT the only one. Do something fun, like exchange gifts with friends instead. And if you’re in a relationship, well, shut up and enjoy it because none of us want to hear about it. (I’m only joking. Well, sort of.)

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