By Dassa Cohen
Last semester, I bought a ticket to see the new live-action Beauty and the Beast movie: alone. No big deal. Though none of my gal friends were available to join me, I was still psyched. REALLY psyched. So I went by myself. I was simply not willing to wait for it to come out on Netflix. I headed on over to the nearby AMC movie theatre, remembering to stock up with goodies at the concession stand. I got there early to watch the previews for upcoming films, as I always do, and predictably, I noticed some fellow Stern ladies entering and searching for seats in pairs. A few of them recognized me and came over to my row. They immediately asked me, “Oh, who are you here with?” It then occurred to me that they were each accompanied by a gentleman. What they were really wondering was, “who’s your date?” To which I offered, “My date is in the restroom.”
They proceeded to find their seats without questioning my story or pushing for more details. But I, however, could not shake the yucky feeling that follows a fib like that one. Who cares if I came alone? It’s not like that was the first time I treated myself to an evening out, just me. I can say with all honesty that I truly enjoyed the movie. I mean… Emma Watson, am I right? But the whole time, in the back of my mind, I could not shake the thoughts of regret and shame for lying about something so silly.
Credits rolled and I was suddenly overcome by the need to come clean. I found the Stern ladies who had approached me earlier and told them the truth. Cleared the air. Even though that encounter was unusual, it was pretty liberating at the same time. It felt liberating because I overcame the pressure to conform. I did not let myself fall prisoner to others’ expectations of who I should be and instead stayed true to myself.I am currently single – who says you always have to be part of a duo?
There are some real perks to being single. Not that couplehood is anything less than wonderful. I just mean, let’s check out the other side of the coin for a change. See what I did there? Anyway, what are some good things I get out of being single? First, I never have to worry about choosing an activity that we both like. If I want to watch a rom-com, eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and paint each nail a different color then by golly that’s exactly what I am going to do! Now, I know I am being rather stereotypical here, but doesn’t that sound awesome? Of course there are plenty of other fun things I like to do. Doodling in my sketchbook, watching a basketball game, or pulling pranks on my close friends are also wonderful options. I am just saying that the choice is mine. The sky’s the limit. I don’t have to negotiate the evening’s plans and spend a movie’s-length of time choosing the film or the place to grab dinner. I can just roll with the punches.
Another great thing about being single is that people ask how I am doing. Not how we are doing. Because that’s a thing. When you’re in a couple people tend to lump you together as one entity. It feels like people forget that you are still two individual people. Yes you are together, but you are still your own person and it feels nice to be acknowledged accordingly. It’s not the worst thing in the world to be addressed in “couple-form,” don’t get me wrong. It is just more validating to be seen as an individual that is part of a pair rather than just seen as a half of a whole. People don’t even mean to morph couples into one being. Honestly, I think it’s just to save time. They figure, probably (and perhaps accurately) that you do many many things together, thus asking, “how are ‘you guys’ doing?” is really just making it easier for the two people to respond. “Oh, we had so much fun at ___” or “The other day we had the greatest time doing ___” It’s just about the math. Asking a duo to describe their evening separately just doesn’t make sense if you participated in the activity together. Simple math.
Last, when I am single I can focus on myself and my work. I am an art major so I spend a lot of time working on whatever latest project is on my plate. Sometimes I find said projects to be all-consuming. After all, there is no right answer in the world of art. I can tweak and tweak until the end of days and still insist that my piece is “missing something.” So that brings me to another plus about single life. You have less distractions. Less to balance. Less to account for. You get to just be YOU without having to explain yourself and your thought process to another human being. You get to exist in a (relatively) judgement-free realm.
Even though single life can be great, we clearly don’t intend for it to be our permanent state. No one really wants to be single forever. We all want to find that special someone. That person with whom we get to discuss the movie we just saw. The person whose input we crave when deciding where to eat dinner and whose point of view we value when it comes to making plans of all kinds. So if we, myself included, do not want to be single forever, then why have I ranted on and on about some perks of being single? Because there is no race to the “finish line.” If you are single, that is not a disease that needs to be cured. It is not a bad state-of-being. I urge you to enjoy the single time by dating yourself. Yes, I did just recommended that you take yourself out on a date. Get to know yourself better. College is a stressful time, and we sometimes forget to do some reflection on who we have become and to do some introspection to figure out who we wish to be.
The message I hope people take away from this is as follows. I really want to stress that even if the norm seems to be that all of one’s peers have “in a relationship” as their Facebook status, it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you if yours says “single.” As we have discussed, the word “single” can be very freeing and very eye-opening. See single-life as an opportunity rather than a punishment and you will be a much happier you.