By: Vivien Ying Qi Li, SFU Student
With cuffing season just around the corner, the number of couples I’ve seen roaming around campus has increased exponentially. It’s as if there’s some universal law out there that pulls people together the moment summer ends. It’s always interesting when this happens. With the appearance of these new couples, the number of worried singles also seems to grow — in my first year, I was one of those worried single people.
I was convinced that being single was a reflection of my worth. I thought that I was ugly, undesirable, and just an overall mess of a human being. In fact, I got so caught up in my own head that I almost dated some random guy in my class and got stuck in a relationship I shouldn’t have been in, just because he gave me a little attention. It’s messed up, I know.
Through that rather traumatizing experience, I finally realized that being single is actually pretty great. People often compare being in love to seeing the moon for the first time, because it’s captivating, breathtaking, and, unlike the sun, its light doesn’t hurt your eyes. But if being in love is like seeing the moon, then being single is like watching the stars — because not only is it no less beautiful than the moon, but it’s also freeing.
Now, before I get too far, I just want to say that I’m not some kind of anti-love advocate or anything. Love is a beautiful thing. However, regardless of how beautiful love may be, it’s definitely not the be-all and end-all, which not everyone realizes. Love is put on such a high pedestal that single people literally get shit for being single. People get so caught up in the negative stigma around being single, that they overlook its beauty.
For example, being single gives you so much more time to do the things you want to do. Back when I almost dated that guy, who I will call Will, it was like I got forcefully enrolled in an extra four-unit course.
Relationships are honestly so time consuming that sometimes you don’t even have time for yourself. As a rather introverted person, I really value my alone time — it gives me time to think. When I was in this almost-relationship, I never had time for myself. If I didn’t respond to messages fast enough, or if I just wanted to keep to myself for the day, I would get bombarded with phone calls and messages, asking if something was wrong, why I wasn’t answering, and so on. At first, I found it touching that he cared so much. It made me think that maybe I wasn’t totally worthless, after all. After a while, however, it just got tiring. I was burned out. I began seeing this relationship as merely an obligation, something I had to get through in order to be deemed valid, and that’s not right.
I also started changing myself when I was with Will. I would hold back things I wanted to say in fear that he would disagree with me since he was a pretty opinionated person. I also found myself pretending to be dumber than I was because he would get mad at himself when I did better than him and for some reason, I felt as if his anger was my fault. Thinking back on it now, it’s pretty stupid. Comical, even. I ended up changing myself so much that I couldn’t even recognize myself anymore. This relationship made me unhappy. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore. I had lost myself amidst the waves of expectations crashing down on me, let the warm and fuzzy feeling of finally being in a relationship cloud my better judgement. It made me forget that the most important person, the one that I should be putting first, isn’t Will.
And I didn’t seem to realize this until I was single again.
I was so preoccupied with trying to deal with this whole new relationship ordeal that I forgot to focus on myself. When you’re single, you really get to learn about yourself. You get time to embrace your flaws and learn to not rely on others to be the source of your happiness. It teaches you to be emotionally independent and allows you to love yourself a little more. More self-love, honestly, is something we can all benefit from, especially in cases like mine, since I was just dating in hopes that it would somehow make me less insecure. I was still insecure; it was just a different kind of insecurity.
For me, being single wasn’t remotely as bad as it had been made out to be. It was freeing, it gave me an opportunity to take care of myself and, more importantly, it gave me more time to love myself.
So, here’s to another season of self-love.