“I recommend to all my friends that they be alone for a while. When you spend a few years being who you are, completely unbiased, you can figure out what you actually want.”
– Taylor Swift
Being happy is a relative feeling. The word “happy” in itself is a relative term.
I always thought that I needed to be in a relationship to be happy. That I needed someone by my side because it would somehow complete my individual self being. And that thought only grew as I entered high school and saw so many of my friends getting into relationships. It suddenly felt like I was the only single person in the world (which, in retrospect, I now see was very dramatic of me). But I genuinely felt as though I was missing out on a huge part of life and everyone else was out there fulfilling that part. I became obsessed with the idea of getting into a relationship for all the wrong reasons.
I never wanted to be in a relationship for the sake of being a relationship. But it felt like I had slowly become that person I never wanted to be. Subconsciously every reason for me wanting to be in a relationship had to do with the fact that it was because “all of my friends were in one” and “I knew for a fact it would make me happier to be with someone” and the reasons just kept getting worse and worse as time progressed.
But coming into my senior year it felt like a light bulb had switched. I suddenly realized how great I felt being by myself, or single. And I don’t know if it’s because senior year has forced me to spend so much time reflecting upon my life for college apps or because I’ve been so busy that I’ve honestly had no time for anybody else or maybe it’s a combination of everything. But I came to the conclusion that being happy does not mean being in a relationship. Those two things tend to be synonymous and are often placed together, but they shouldn’t be. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you’re automatically happy. The same way that just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you’re automatically lonely and sad.
I never realized how much I loved being single until this year. And not just single in terms of a relationship, but just by myself really. I love that I can do what I want, when I want, how I want. I’m not obligated to spend time with a person because we’re in a relationship and social norms dictate that people who are in a relationship have to spend an inhuman amount of time together.
I get to spend time with me. And it’s taken me seventeen years to understand how amazing that is.
You can’t ever know who you are until you spend time with yourself.
Being single has always had a bad reputation. People think that if you’re single you must be lonely or desperate or looking for someone or sad or depressed or a “crazy cat lady”, which I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing because cats are pretty cool.
But being single is not a bad thing.
I look at my friends who are in relationships now and some of them I do envy, I’ll admit it, but others of them, I see their relationship and I honestly wonder whether they’re together because they care for one another or because they’re scared of the idea of being alone. I feel like in high school, especially, we get into relationships because it’s become a “cool” thing to do or because we just don’t want to be alone for one, two, three, four years. But it should never be that way. We shouldn’t be with someone just for the sake of being with someone. We shouldn’t be with someone because outside pressures tell us it’ll make us happy.
Happiness, at least for me, is the journey of figuring out who you are and learning to love spending time with yourself. I love being alone now. I love sitting at home and watching Netflix or The Big Bang Theory or Youtube videos and just being by myself. I love the feeling it gives me. It makes me happy.
That doesn’t have to be your happiness though. Everyone’s happiness is different. Your happiness honestly could be being in a relationship and there is nothing wrong with that. But for the people who aren’t in a relationship and think that you need one to be happy or fulfilled, it’s during that time when you have to spend the most time with your own self. Discover your true happiness and everything else will just be a nice addition to your life.
Relationship does not equal happiness. If there’s one thing I could tell my freshman, sophomore, and especially junior year self, it would be: you don’t need someone in your life to be happy. You have yourself. And that is more than enough.