Don’t Feel Singled Out
By: Rebecca Schwartz
With the pressure to get a thorough education (college is not enough), find a respectable (high paying) job, fit into single digit sizes (one or two) and be successfully paired with a significant other (good looking is preferable), it is quite impressive that Americans are not literally fainting on the street from the pure exhaustion of “keeping up with the Jones’.” While we may all feel pressure in different aspects of our lives, it seems the pressure to be involved in a relationship has become quite intense.
From the time children are exposed to television shows and movies, society makes it clear that two people in love are happiest. Never will a Disney romance end without Ariel finding her Eric; nor will Belle ever leave without her Beast. As children become teenagers, Corey is never satisfied until he is holding Topanga. Even hip adults get the idea when Sex and the City, a show that is supposed to depict single life in New York City, only portrays the women as truly satisfied when they are romantically involved. With television’s constant reminders of society’s guidelines, it is no wonder that real world standards do not stray too far. When ten year olds are “dating,” and teens in junior high know precisely who is going steady with whom, by the time high school comes around, young adults are quite acclimated to the romantic world. The pressure to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend can be so intense that single people begin to feel left out. “It can be very lonely when all your friends seem to be dating and involved,” says Angie Freire, a junior at Killian High School.
While this pressure society imposes may not be within our control, allowing the pressure to take hold of our emotions is. In a Health.com interview, Bella DePaulo, author of the book Singled Out, says, “It’s a matter of getting to know who you are and what works for you.” Although she admits it may sound corny, this mentality, of embracing yourself and being comfortable single, is essential to happiness. Yes, it is possible, as DePaulo points out, because single life comes with benefits. For example, “If you haven’t invested your entire emotional portfolio into one person but instead have maintained many relationships for a long time, that’s something to feel proud of,” she says. Additionally, single life allows for more alone time, an important aspect of life that is often overlooked. It is also important to realize that being single does not limit you, that couples are not the only happy people. “Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you can’t have a good job, buy a house, have kids, have sex, travel. You can have it all,” Depaulo points out.
As times change, and more women and men are comfortable enjoying the benefits of being single, perhaps the media will change its outlook on the couple. No matter what television portrays, however, it is important that viewers are able to distinguish entertainment and society’s pressure from a reality that may not, in actuality, be all that harsh. While there is nothing wrong with being a happy couple, being happy and single is equally acceptable.