Celebrate being single? I think yes.

By Ellen Cameron
Staff Writer

“Ellen, you’ve never been on a date. You’re a loser.”

Thanks, little sister, I love you too.

But that night at the dinner table is not the only time my sister Laura Lee has told me, in not so many words, that I have no life because I have no boyfriend.

The emphasis society puts on teenage girls to have boyfriends is astounding. The message indoctrinated in literature from childhood fairy tales to slightly dubious teen fiction (i.e. Twilight) is clear: to be happy, you must have a Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet and into the sunset. You must be like Ariel or Cinderella or Bella or even Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice; to have worth, you must have a man.

And that’s just wrong.

Relationships can be great, of course. There’s a reason people get married, and it’s more than an innate physiological need to procreate.

But relationships don’t complete you. They don’t solve all of life’s problems. It is not a step in the road to becoming an adult. Having a relationship for the sake of having a relationship won’t make it meaningful.

There was a Shel Silverstein book that summed it up quite nicely. It is called The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, and is an allegory about relationships and how we wait for the person who will complete us like two puzzle pieces fitting together. The secret is, though, that we have to learn how to roll on our own before we can roll with someone else, meaning we have to find ourselves before we “find” someone else.

And you thought Shel Silverstein was for kids.

While relationships may not always be as perfectly wonderful as they’re cracked up to be, being single doesn’t quite fit the hype either. No, contrary to social stigma, relationships can be difficult, while being single isn’t always so bad. There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. In fact, being single has its definite perks.

I have never had a boyfriend. The only time I’ve ever been asked out was a disastrous affair two years ago involving a text not read until the morning as the boy stood by my locker waiting for rejection. It was the most awkward two minutes of my life.

So I speak from experience when I say it is actually possible to enjoy being single. The perks are endless; for instance, there’s no disputing the bill at the end of the night. If you’re with your friends, you pay for yourself; if you’re with your parents, they pay, the end. There’s none of this “going-Dutch”, taking-turns, splitting-the-bill confusion.

And friends have less of an authority than significant others; you can ignore your friends’ advice just fine, but that may not go over so well with sweetie-pie. Your friends also can’t dump you, cheat on you, or steal the covers in the middle of the night.

You don’t have to put an extra effort into looking cute for your friends, because few people really think, “Hey, that person is attractive, I want to be their new best friend.” However, you can dress up when you want and play the field, because no one blames you for flirting all you want if you’re not cheating.

You also have more time to spend with the friends don’t look cute for and whose advice you don’t follow. In fact, you have more time to do what you want in general, and you really don’t have to compromise with your time doing things you don’t want for the sake of being supportive.

And of course, there’s the whole awkward parents thing that is neatly avoided, not to mention not having to adjust to your significant other’s friends as well and hoping they like you. This means that you avoid meeting your boyfriend’s parents the way my friend did, on the side of the road at 11 p.m. after he crashed the car making a left-hand turn.

And so maybe it is a little selfish to enjoy being single so much. I don’t mind, though, if the choices are between being selfish but happy and just plain miserable. Relationships happen when they happen; it’s useless to waste time wishing otherwise.

So I am a single lady. Beyonce’s song, although a bitter song to an ex, does celebrate the virtues of being single. And if Beyonce enjoyed being single, why shouldn’t the rest of us?

My homecoming group strikes our best "single ladies" poses.
My homecoming group strikes our best "single ladies" poses.