Being in a relationship is, by definition, a commitment. It's more than just, "I like you, you like me, let's be together."It's time, energy, communication and so much more. Being single, on the other hand, is defined as being alone.
The media portrays being single as being an absolute shame and society values coupling up to a point where being single has almost become associated with being "lost," or without a purpose. "You'll find the right one eventually," we're told, but even so, we constantly hear people complaining about being "forever alone." This begs the question: Has society made us this way or are we making society this way? It's a chicken before the egg conundrum, but regardless, it's an issue that needs addressing.
Oftentimes, being alone is directly equated with being lonely. Needless to say, loneliness is not usually a positive emotion, and it tends to make people uncomfortable when they don't know how to help someone they assume to be lonely -- hence the slew of, "Are you seeing anyone?," and, "Are you keeping an open mind?," type of questions. But isn't it offensive to assume that because we're alone, we're automatically lonely? We are so much more than those questions give us credit for being. We are not defined by our relationship status.
I'm not saying that being single isn't lonely at times. Sure, it'd be nice to have someone to bring to family dinners or to cuddle up with after a long day, but it's not all loneliness and moping around in self-pity. In fact, in the year I've been single after coming out of a two and a half year relationship, I've learned that being single can actually be empowering. And in your twenties, a time full of decisions, mistakes, confusion, spontaneity and everything else, being free to make yourself your number one priority is truly a gift.
Our twenties are one of the only times in life that we are able to be selfish, to make decisions based on our own desires and intuition, without having to take into consideration, "adult" matters, such as having a family to look out for or a career to focus on. It's the time in our lives when we have the least amount of responsibility and the most freedom.
Being single means having the gift of time to get to know yourself as an adult. It's a time to decide what you want and need in your life, to set goals and figure out how to accomplish them, to take risks without severe consequences, and to write your own sort of, "rule book." Your life path is yours alone, and not having to worry about how your decisions will affect a partner gives you that much more freedom to make decisions that are best for you.
In addition to having time for self-introspection, you have time to spend with your family and friends and to really invest in lifelong relationships. You can make completely selfish decisions about your career, location, home decor, Saturday night plans and Netflix queue -- and who doesn't want that?!
Not only do you have time to explore the bigger parts of life, but you get to enjoy the little things, too. Dance around in your underwear, spend an entire Saturday in bed binge watching episodes of Sex and the City, embrace being silly with your girlfriends, have the whole bed to yourself, take a month to try out a new hobby or travel... the list goes on and on! It's your life and you get to do what you want -- isn't that empowering?
Too often, single twenty-somethings, especially women, are either pitied or viewed as pathetic. Romantic comedies love to show women crying into bowls of ice cream while a Lifetime movie plays on TV -- as if the women have nothing better to do than to wait for their fairy tale ending to come in the form of, "Prince Charming." Sometimes, it's fun to embrace the single stereotype, (usually when it means Netflix and wine in bed), but there's so much more to us than what Hollywood and Cosmopolitan magazines portrays.
This is the time to reframe what it means to be single. Consider everything you have that makes your heart full without being in a relationship right now. If you're like me and live by the "everything happens for a reason," mantra, trust that the right person will walk into your life at the right time if it's meant to be. And if you don't believe in fate or perfect timing, at least remember this: There is power in being your own number one, and being alone does not mean you need to be lonely.
Sara Chuirazzi writes for Unwritten. You can follow her on Twitter @sarazzismiles.