At the beginning of sophomore year, I was getting dinner with some sorority sisters. We were catching up after a long summer, and the conversation inevitably turned to boys: cute ones at church, in our new classes, seen around campus. Amongst my friends there was a general consensus that this was going to be the year that we made some progress on the dating front.
I say “we” because I don’t like to be left out of the group. In reality, when my best friends start talking strategy for Project Find a Boyfriend, I feel like I’m Tom Hanks floating away from Wilson into the vast ocean. Very much alone.
Too Single To Date
You have to understand here that I’ve never been the boy-crazy type. Sure, I can do the giggly girly thing, but after a few minutes I’m like, “So… seen any good movies lately?” Don’t get me wrong: I’m looking for The One as much as any other 20 year old, but I also really like being single.
Sometimes it makes me angry that I have to feel ashamed about my singleness. And yes, people have made me feel really bad about it. One friend really hurt me with his harsh words in high school. He told me that the fact that I enjoyed being single didn’t bode well for my future relationships. “You are too independent to be in a long-term relationship,” he told me gravely. “You would hate it. You’re just too single to date.”
And like a fool, I believed him. I believed there was something innately wrong with me, that my beloved independence and feminist spirit made me incompatible, and that ultimately I would have to give up these qualities in order to be loved. You can imagine how much I’ve disliked talking about finding a boyfriend when I’ve been hearing this voice in my head for years.
I Get Called Out
So the night I was out at dinner with my sorority sisters, I became more and more upset as dreams of beautiful formal dates interfered with what I wanted my sophomore year to look like. Unfortunately my face is an open book, so one of my sisters noticed my mood change.
She addressed me individually, “Are you ready to find a boyfriend, too?”
I shook my head. “I’m too single to date.”
“But do you want to?”
“So do it.” She stared me down with authority, and I knew I’d have to explain myself.
“When I say I’m too single to date,” I sighed, “what I mean is that I don’t date a lot. And the longer I go without dating practice, the more independent I get. And I am afraid that I will go so long being so ferociously independent that I will never be able to let go of the reins and share my life with somebody else.”
“So you don’t want to date because…?”
“Because I’m afraid that I’ll end up alone regardless.”
She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment. “Can I ask you something? In your head, what does the rest of your life look like? Just give me a quick overview.”
“Well I’d like to graduate college first.”
“That’s a good start,” she laughed. “Then what?”
“Find a job I like and get really good at it.”
I sighed. I knew what she wanted me to say. “I also want to get married, have kids, travel the world, and live happily ever after.”
“Bingo!” she beamed. “And let me ask you this: how important is that last part to you? On a scale from one to ten?”
“Probably an eleven,” I told her.
“That’s what I thought. Here’s the deal, Ashley: if you have the desire to be loved in that way, God will provide someone. You have nothing to worry about. “
What My Sorority Sister Taught Me
What my sorority sister taught me is that we live in a culture that shames us for our singleness. No, we are not the only women in history who have ever faced this problem, but that doesn’t make it any less hurtful. For single women who want to be in a relationship, the waiting is hard. The media doesn’t make it any easier to cope as it constantly throws couples together in movies, books, and TV shows.
My sister taught me that I don’t have to feel bad about myself while I’m waiting. Being single doesn’t mean that I’m broken, in fact, it doesn’t even mean that I’m unwanted. I just needed a friendly voice to replace the critical one in my head. And just like that, I felt this wave of peace come over me. For the first time in a long time, I feel secure in my singleness, trusting that it will end when the time is right.
Image by Abby Weeden Photography & Design. Theta Formal 2014.