by Rosie Brown
While Whitworth is an enchanting, blended world of academia and community, one recurring nightmare that has haunted many students is the obsession with romance and marriage. The ominous “ring before spring,” where one is expected to get engaged before spring semester, was one of three items on the Whitworth bucket list known as the “Little Three.” This is the first year that the Whitworth community has actively attempted to replace this mentality with the expectation to be hit in the head by a Frisbee instead. Yet while institutional re-engineering is underway, the pressure to find the One while in college still weighs on students’ shoulders, whether it is consciously realized or not.
Programs, lectures, courses and informal conversations among peers bring it up constantly. I cannot recount how many conversations I have had with girlfriends who don’t know what they “did wrong,” and wonder why they can’t “find Mr. Right.” I have heard men and women alike refer to singleness as a burden and an obstacle. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? What happened to the conversations about marriage being difficult and a lot of work? Where are the programs on campus educating young adults on the hardships and commitment of marriage and couple-ship?
This is just a speculation, but is it possible that this skewed perception of singleness is negatively preparing Whitworth students for the realities of marriage? When it appears that students are viewing marriage as the cure-all solution for the woes of being single and unhappy, I cannot help but be concerned that young, recent college graduates will not be as prepared for tackling the married life as they could be.
By no means am I saying that young marriages don’t work; my parents got married in their early 20s and they are the happiest married couple I know. Rather, I want to stress the importance of being comfortable with and not fearing the single life in order to have a healthy long-term relationship with another individual. So, to the average, single Whitworthian reader, here is the one thing you can hold above any couple’s head.
You can do whatever you want. You may think that couples can do that, too — but hear me out. Couples worry a lot more than singles do about plans for their futures and their present. Where can I live? What line of work can I realistically pursue? How many hours can I work? What extracurriculars do I have time for and can participate in with my significant other? Where do my friends fit in? Should I be spending or saving this paycheck? The list goes on. For singles, on the other hand, the world is their proverbial oyster. Literally, your possibilities are endless. Live here in Spokane, or backpack for a year across the globe. No one cares, because you don’t have to think about a future with another person. Financially, you can work odd jobs or pursue the career of a lifetime; the choice is yours because you are only supporting yourself. You can flirt shamelessly with the cashier, because guess what! You’re single! Lucky you!
Take advantage of this benefit. Explore yourself. Find out who you are as an individual; discover what it means to be you, separate from any other person on Earth. Why did God create the you that exists, and what is your purpose? What is the passion that drives your every action, and what do you want to do with your life? Fall in love with life and the beautiful world around you. Do what you love and love what you do. Smile because you’re alive. Seek relationships with everyone around you, and make an effort to fall in love with everyone you meet. Fall in love with the little girl you babysit; fall in love with the woman who makes your coffee every morning; fall in love with the custodian; fall in love with your peers. Have fun! Life is plentiful and wondrous; dare to explore its depth.
I give you two scenarios to choose from. The first scenario depicts an incomplete woman who found her Mr. Right, thanks to a constant and unceasing search to find her other half. The second scenario depicts a man who had never realized he had an “other half” until he met the One, who made him question how he had so happily lived his life without her. What is the difference between these two scenarios? It is not the happy ending; rather, it is the individual. The first person felt incomplete going into the relationship, and she sought to be fulfilled through another person. The second person was already whole, confident, and knew who he was as a person before he came across a woman he couldn’t live without. Now, tell me: Which scenario would you prefer?
So, singles at Whitworth, go ahead and pursue your passions. Record that EP with your band; go study abroad in Europe for a semester. Learn a new language, or try a new intramural sport you’re not very good at. Who knows? Maybe Mr. or Mrs. Right is doing the exact same thing.