By Haley Atkinson
I spent this past weekend at the wedding of two dear friends. They have been dating for the past six years. It was a joy to watch her walk down the aisle and into the joining of their lives. As I sat in my seat watching the ceremony, I could not help but smile, happy for them, and equally happy it was not me instead.
During the reception I walked from table to table reuniting with friends of mine and of my parents I hadn’t seen in years. Each conversation seemed to follow a set pattern: “Where are you now? Oh that’s wonderful. What are you studying? Oh that’s great. Are there any young men in your life? Oh well; soon, I’m sure. Or have you met my nephew, grandson, brother … ”
I thought to myself, “Oh well; soon, I’m sure.”
Why isn’t being unattached as amendable as the rest of my life? Why does everyone assume I am unhappy being single? The stigma of singleness must end.
Initially, I thought it may have been I was circulating with my friend who has recently started to date the man we all believe she will marry, but the more I pondered the topic I realized it is a permanent fixture in my life. I constantly feel the need to justify myself, “No, there’s no one, but I’m happy.”
Sometimes I even feel the need to add a “really.” Why is happiness not assumed?
Singleness is a blessing, but is rarely recognized as such. In this time of our lives, we have the opportunity to determine who we are as fully independent people. We are blessed with the ability to discover what we will root ourselves in. How we will anchor ourselves in our ever-changing lives? Without the constant influence of someone else we care for, and even love we can be certain of the adult we are maturing into.
Without anyone demanding our immediate attention and affection, we are able to pour ourselves more fully into the areas we have chosen. Whether it is our studies, internships, volunteering or other relationships, the single have more to give. Paul wrote to the church of Corinth, “the unmarried man and woman is anxious about things of the Lord” while the “married men and women are anxious of things of the world.”
In our solitary state, there are freedoms we often take for granted; we have the ability to see beyond the immediate in life and better meet the needs around us. We must claim these liberties and take full advantage of all that we have. Navigating college without a counterpart opens the possibilities to post-graduation life to anything we could imagine. We need not consider where he or she will be, and whether or not we will go with them. The world is open, ours for the taking.
This is not to say we ought to seek in hopes of filling a void. I am contending we do not have a cavity, but rather a gift, and this benefaction must be used wisely.
Leo Tolstoy wrote in A Confession, “the simplest of questions lying in the soul of every man from the foolish child to the wisest elder … ‘What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow? – What will come of my whole life?”
These are the questions we are to be striving to answer, not are there any young men in our lives. For this is the basis of living a life of meaning beyond ourselves. If we are able to answer this we will be able to live a life of purpose.
Now I must note relationships are not a shoddy waste of time, rather they can be and often are quite good. But I think this is widely understood, while the blessings of singleness are not. To the singles of this campus be glad in your position, stop looking and waiting for someone to come along. Relinquish the justifications to yourself, or those you encounter and seek a full life.