Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and many of the other greats have gifted unto us incredible power ballads about being single. They sing about the ups and downs of solitude, how strong and powerful a single lady can be, and how awesome it is to be independent. This might be because they are, in fact, not single at all and paid someone exorbitant amounts of money to write this showstopper about something in which they actually have no experience. Or maybe they truly are strong, independent women who don’t need a man. Either way, with these songs gracing the Billboard Top 100 list on any given day, you’d think that I would be a little more appreciative of my (constantly) single status.
Being Single in College
I’ve been single for quite some time. Sure, I’ve flirted with many a fine young frat boy available on my campus, but I always come up empty-handed. This might be because I lack grace, charm, and that general allure you need to snag said gentleman, but it’s a bit discouraging to constantly face rejection and disappointment. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve thought I felt something there with some cutie (because my pride just won’t let me say it out loud), only for them to leave a party with my friend or to totally ghost me and leave me in the dust. Recently, however, I considered that maybe the reason I feel this stigma around my single status is because it’s such an ambiguous term in college. Being single in college doesn’t just mean single. Single is a term that encompasses a wide range of relationship statuses.
There’s honest-to-God, truly single.
This means you spend every night alone and you might occasionally make out with someone at a party, only for them to abandon you in the chaos of the crowd for someone undoubtedly better looking and an overall better time. You can’t remember the last time a boy texted you who wasn’t your father asking when you’d be coming home for summer break so he can book your plane tickets before they get too pricey. You eat Lean Cuisine at least four times a week because you can, and you really don’t feel enough shame in going anywhere by yourself, including the movies. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this lifestyle (this coming from the girl who is trying to validate how much time she spends alone). But when couples constantly surround you, whether they’re a couple for just one night or for their entire college career, it’s hard not to feel a surge of jealousy from deep inside your cold, dead heart.
The next level of being single in college presents itself in the form of the “get it, girl” single.
You may or may not fly under the radar in your popularity among the men, but you still receive plenty of male attention right when you want it. It doesn’t mean you’ve got a consistent boo who responds to your beckon call in the wee hours of the night, but you know how to play your cards right and snag the attention of that hottie from across the party. You’re confident in your game and consider yourself to be somewhat of a heart-breaker. If you’re this type of single, snaps to you and you are my role model. I’ve been taught to live with immense Catholic guilt, so this lifestyle isn’t exactly conducive with my upbringing. But honestly, keep doing whatever you’re doing, because clearly, you’re slaying and I’m jealous.
Then there’s the “single” single.
You say you’re single, but in reality, you’ve been consistently seeing the same person for the past four months and you simply refuse to put a label on it for fear that someone take you seriously. You do everything a couple does — you even sleepover at his place and actually sleep. But when asked your relationship status, you reply with single, because neither of you have bucked up and asked what the heck you two are. If you wouldn’t hook up with someone else, then you aren’t single. Let’s call a spade a spade and admit that you’re in a damn relationship.
The worst part about being single in college is this ambiguity.
When you tell someone you’re single, they have absolutely no idea what that means — it could mean any level of things. But the reason why single has become such a nuanced term is because of us as a generation. We are so far removed from the days of dating and courtship. When you like someone, you can’t just ask them out on a date! God forbid you risk your pride and put yourself out there. No, we’ve been taught by culture and society that there’s this new form of dating in which you spend months hooking up and hanging out before you actually even consider dating. I think that’s why it’s so awful to be single in college. You have no idea what it even means.
Being Single IRL
But once we exit out of these fast four years and jump headfirst in the pool of real life adulthood, the whole concept of “single” changes on us once again. From what I hear, being single in adulthood rocks. You come home from a long day of work, kick off your heels, and don’t have to talk to a single person about your day. After four years of straight socialization and living with anywhere from three to fourteen other people, this era of solitude is greatly anticipated. It seems pretty wonderful to not have to talk to anyone once I get home.
Being single in real life means not having to share anything with anyone.
You get to sleep diagonally and if you snore or make strange noises, no one’s going to comment. You don’t even have to make your bed really, because other than the occasional friend you bring home from the bar, who’s going to ever see the inside of your bedroom? On top of that, you can buy whatever you want from the grocery store. Hell, you can order in every night, and the only people who will probably judge you are your doorman and your accountant, but who cares? You don’t have to shave your legs, because you decide when and where you’ll be going out and it becomes socially acceptable to wear pantyhose with a skirt because you’re in a “professional atmosphere.”
Singleness = More time to focus on you.
When you’re fresh out of college and still young and confused, the last thing you need on your plate is a relationship. You’re trying to learn how to make money and save it, you’re trying to learn how to hold a real, honest-to-blog job, and you’re trying to figure out how to be a functioning member of society. As my older and wiser (and actually grown up) big sister told me, “I think when you’re working full time and actively fighting to build your career, you have less time for the bullshit.” This is so, so true. So much of relationships is just bullshit and we constantly have to figure out that which should be so simple.
But everyone and their sister is getting married, except for you.
Once you graduate college, many of your friends who escaped the eighth circle of hell known as being single in college and successfully maintained a real relationship through college, begin to get married. When that reality sets in, you begin to consider that the idea that you want to find someone to hang out with for more than a night doesn’t really sound all that outrageous. You’re more aware of the risks of casual sex, because you quickly realize just how many freaks there are out in the world. The idea of that ambiguous single life dissipates as your realize the value of spending time with someone. You don’t hesitate to go on actual dates because not only does that usually insinuate a free meal, but because most people your age aren’t looking for something casual — time is moving fast and you need something a little more real.
At the end of the day, no one likes being alone.
We all want that companionship in the wee hours of the night when it’s cold and rainy. But the truth is, we’re going to spend a whole lot of our lives with other people. Once you’re married, if you so choose, you have a spouse by your side. Then might come kids, which requires even more dedication than a spouse. It goes on and on and on and those moments of sacred solitude become so sparse that even a shower is a blessing, because it means you’re alone. So whether you’re single in college or single IRL, enjoy it. Enjoy the fact that you can go wherever you want whenever you want and you can live life without any commitments except that of to yourself. Being single isn’t a curse. If Beyoncé taught us anything, it’s that being single is a reason to get up and dance.
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I'm a Communications and English student at Santa Clara University with big dreams of pursuing a career in writing. I believe in living and loving and that what you give, you get back. As for writing? Well, Ernest Hemingway said it best: "There is nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed."