Dear Ladies: We Need To Realize Being Single Is NOT An Affliction

by Sheena Sharma

“My single ass is going to be single forever.”

“Guys, find me a man for the night!”

“Can we all just look at that couple over there? They make me want to die.”

I’ll bet that on any given night out in New York -- or anywhere, really -- you’ve heard some version of these grievances, if not verbatim.

I know I have. Sober escapades with my girlfriends always turn into drunken shenanigans in which women who start out confident as hell end up crumbling into vulnerable shells of themselves.

Thanks to one-too-many shots, bonafide feminists who once basked in their singledom become needy women who feel incomplete without a man.

I'd be a hypocrite if I said I wasn't one of those women. But it’s unfair to solely blame ourselves for our uninvited shifts in character. Our transformations from strong as steel to silly putty are justified.

Because it seems no matter where I am, what I’m doing or to whom I’m talking, my girlfriends and I are picked on for being single.

I’m chewed up, spit out and thrown into the mud. My mother shames me for it, my friends remind me of it, and my therapist scrutinizes me for it. My sister is baffled by it, my exes dwell on it and cab drivers inquire about it while driving my drunken, solo self around questionable neighborhoods at the tail end of dusk.

I’m told I’m “too pretty,” “too smart,” “too old” -- I could go on -- to be single, and I must "resolve" the “problem” as soon as possible.

With the amount of bullying I regularly endure, I might as well be back in middle school.

I’ve been single for a long time now, so long that I don’t remember what it feels like to fall into consuming, unadulterated, obsessed-with-each-other love. Good men are scarce.

The good news is the shortage of romantic suitors in my life has forced me to vastly improve other areas of my life. As a result, I’ve cultivated a fulfilling career, a loyal friend circle and a stable relationship with family.

None of that, however, seems to matter to my inner circle. And just when I think I’m confident enough with my life to be impervious to the criticism I receive for not having settled down romantically yet (I say “almost” because if I were completely desensitized, well, then I wouldn’t be writing this article), I realize that I’m not.

Because not only do I feel the pressure from my inner circle, but I also feel it from the outside world.

Is it just me or does the world we live in relentlessly single-shame?

From TV commercials about which online dating site is right for you, to the rom-com that deems the lead actress a frazzled mess until (and ONLY until) she gets her sh*t together and finally f*cking succumbs to the over-the-top gestures of the nice guy with the dadbod, we’re entrenched in a world that tells us it's wrong to be single.

I’m disappointed in society. I'm fed up with being put down. I’m exhausted from using “What love life?” as a combative response to “So, how’s your love life going?”

I’d like you to take a moment to think about all of the times anyone has ever celebrated you for YOU. What comes to mind? Engagements, weddings, baby showers (in that order), right?

The only monumental, praiseworthy moments in our lives, according to society, are ones that are romance-centric. And as much as I wish I could tell you it was, that isn’t a coincidence.

Your admission to law school, your great personality or your awesome job that pays you to write about whatever you feel like that day (psst, over here!) isn’t nearly as much of a milestone.

And so, I ask: Why do we celebrate when women happen to stumble upon a combination of fate and dumb luck, but not when they achieve something they’ve worked so hard for?

In the time I’ve been single, I’ve lost self-doubt and gained clarity. I’ve built the beginnings of an empire that will still be here once I’m long gone. I don't have love, but I've earned the things that I have.

Where’s the kudos for that?

Society is withholding the kudos. Because it would rather belittle a woman for one thing she doesn’t have, rather than commemorate her for the numerous successes she does have.

When we celebrate weddings and babies but not professional accomplishments or admirable characteristics, we tell single women that they, themselves, are not worthy. That they, themselves, are not enough.

Well, I’m here to tell you that just because you don’t have a significant other doesn’t mean you’re unworthy of being loved. I’m here to tell you that you are enough.

I am writing this to empower you. To tell you it’s okay. To stand in solidarity with you against a society whose definition of “right” is absolutely wrong.

But I'm also writing this to acknowledge that I feel lonely sometimes, too.

After a long day’s work, when I come home, I often wish there were someone there to love, to hug, to kiss. But there isn't. And until I find that person, I won't undermine the rest of my accomplishments, nor will I view singledom as a death sentence.

We all want to be loved. We’re all searching for our other half. But our belief that someone else is responsible for half of our happiness is the fundamental problem -- it's what we've been told to be true ever since we were little, and it's the reason we break down at the bar.

We have the power to retaliate against society. We've got to show everyone single life isn't the worst thing in the world and requited love isn't a measure of self-worth.

You have two arms and two legs (well, most of you do), and you (probably) aren’t homeless. Be grateful for what you have instead of bashing what you don’t have.

Instead of finding someone to fill pieces of you, fill them yourself. And know that if you’re not being happy on your own, you’ll never be happy with someone because the problem will have been you all along.

You -- not singledom -- will have been your own affliction.