Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

How to be okay with being single

Rachel Choi
Illustration Rachel Choi

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice.

Have you ever been asked, “Why don’t you try finding someone?” Maybe that one aunt who always has lipstick on her teeth and smells of baby powder often comes up to you at family functions saying something like, “You know, you should really try to find someone before your childbearing years end.” Instead of laughing these pestering questions off, take a deep breath and reply with a simple: “It’s okay to be single.” 

Many singles are bombarded with these intrusive questions and forced into feeling ashamed for being single, but for many, being without a partner is a choice—specifically for 41 percent of single Americans.

I would even go as far as to say that one of the biggest reasons many people find and stay with their partners is due to the societal validation that comes with having a significant other. Society has placed pressure on the idea of finding love and starting a family, so much so that I’ve noticed people weigh their pride and self-love in how successful they are in a relationship. Why is it that external love is given so much power?

My friends often complain about being single, feeling as if they are defective in some kind of way. To avoid these moments of low self-esteem and bitterness, more people need to work on self-love. The less self-love you have, the less confidence you have, and the more insecure and self-degrading you become. 

This problem is a cyclical one. It’s hard to love someone who is constantly undermining and belittling their self-worth—although there may be someone who uses your self-hatred to make themselves feel better—so stay strong out there.

According to Dr. Jessie Quintero-Johnson, communication sciences and disorders professor and licensed therapist, this is not a hopeless cycle. In an interview with the Beacon, she discussed ways for people to be content with being single not just on Valentines Day, but year-round. 

“One thing that feels important is for people to be able to identify and believe in their inherent self-worth,” she said. “Lots of people gain their sense of value from the relationships they have with other people.” 

Everyone needs support from those around them, but that support doesn’t necessarily have to come from a romantic partner. Strengthening your non-romantic relationships will help you feel both mentally and emotionally stronger.  

Dr. Quintero-Johnson believes that people often relate their value to how well they meet these standards “in terms of work, productivity, and cultural norms.” But we don’t have to let others’ definitions of a successful lifestyle diminish our sense of self-value.   

Building self-love while part of a society that is centered around judging happy single people makes the concept of loving yourself more important. Dr. Quintero-Johnson suggests that you should take a moment to think about what you are contributing to the world and consider what you can give back. When you recognize those things, you will discover love and pride in yourself. 

“I gain a lot of my confidence from being able to be successful by myself,” said Jade Hogan, a sophomore at UMass Boston. “Since I can juggle so many things, like school, work, clubs, and keeping stable friendships, I feel more confident in myself.” 

Another aspect of finding this self-confidence might be related to the media you consume. UMass Boston Professor Cassandra Alexopoulos has published dozens of papers on how the brain distinguishes the value of relationships and how media can activate or cultivate those values. 

“I find that it is quite easy to find media content to satisfy not only mood and emotion-related needs … it’s also very possible to seek out media content that feeds into your cognitive schema that being single is okay,” Alexopoulos said in an interview with the Beacon. 

Sometimes, however, it’s easier to be self-critical rather than putting in the time and effort to build self-confidence, but it would be a missed opportunity to grow your self-confidence during the time you are alone. Being single is the ideal time to work on yourself with all that extra downtime. 

“Finding yourself has a lot to do with figuring out your identity in the world, and  how to more fully embody whatever your identities are,” said Dr. Quintero-Johnson. 

Being single is also the perfect time to work on your friendships. If you’ve just left a romantic relationship, take this time to reconnect with friends you may have grown apart from.  

“Figure out what the other person needs to feel connected and what you need to feel connected,” said Dr. Quintero-Johnson. “For some of us, this is spending time together … It’s maybe not even the depth, but the frequency of communication.”

Though many people, including myself, are fabulous at being alone, having a partner in crime can be one of the most valuable things in life. Life is short and many of us simply panic at the thought of spending it alone. Find friends who you can bear your soul to, talk about strange dreams, and promise to marry if you hit a certain age and both of you are still single. 

MassArt sophomore Christina Dye believes being single is the perfect thing for her. 

“I choose to be single because I don’t feel like dealing with people,” Dye says. “If I start a relationship with someone when I’m not ready, I feel I won’t give them what they deserve.” 

When it comes to being single, it can and should be one of the most eye-opening times of your life. It might sound cliche, but first love, appreciate, care for, and devote your time to yourself before giving your precious time to another person. Don’t feel ostracized by being single—embrace it.    

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