[Image credit: Bailey Weaver]
I never grow tired of a good meme. Cat memes be my sh*t, yo. But there’s one type of meme that I have grown tired of, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. Exhibit A:
Hardy har har. The single-shaming meme. People, you’re probably not as sad about being on your own as you think you are; you can thank the media for further fueling why you’re unequivocally sad about being single. But it ain’t just memes that glorify romantic relationships — it’s magazines. And movies. And songs on the radio. My Twitter feed is inundated on a daily basis with headlines like: “6 Tips in Bed to Drive Your Man Wild,” and “Ian and Nikki’s PDA-filled Vacation,” and pictures of sickeningly happy couples working out together, captioned “#relationshipgoals.”
What media moguls fail to realize, though, is that they’re incredibly insensitive and biased. You see, the middle-aged, wedding ring-less guy on the subway reads about the tips in bed, then cries himself to sleep because he hasn’t gotten laid in a year. My over-30 year-old single girlfriend would rather eat her own foot than see Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed’s PDA, ‘cuz she can’t even remember the last time a guy kissed her on the street. And the seemingly mindless endeavor of hashtagging “relationship goals” has led me, on more than one occasion, to eat an entire box of black-and-white cookies while watching Mad Men on a Friday night in my pathetic, crumb-filled bed (yeah, that wasn’t easy for me to admit).
My question is: where are the click-baity headlines intended to comfort singles? In fact, doesn’t the only way we ever read about singledom lie in sensationalism of the newest iPhone dating app? We all need somebody to lean on, and when that somebody doesn’t present himself, it’s nice to have something to lean on. The lack of armchairs for singles is what instigated this blog in the first place; I wanted to remind people they aren’t alone.
The thing is, annoyingly loud societal dogmas take an ancient idea and apply it to a world that’s changing faster than most can process; in Layman’s terms, the rules we feel bound to haven’t evolved as quickly as the act of romantic courtship has. The ending result? Many of us feel coerced into coupledom, when we either can find it and don’t want it, or want it but can’t find it.
For the most part, I’m not sad about being single. Life is beautiful in that webs of meaningful connections can be weaved amongst siblings and good friends, amongst pets and parents. And if you let these webs fill you up in all the right ways, you won’t feel ashamed about being single. Still, I hate to break to you that we singles won’t stop feeling bullied until – and only until – the media ceases to measure a woman’s worth in terms of which man is taking her out to dinner on a given night. If and when a cessation will happen is beyond me, which means we’ve just gotta get better at regarding single-shaming as white noise.
I’ll tell you a little story. Over Memorial Day weekend, I took a trip down South to visit my sister. We engaged in a heated debate over which Netflix movie to watch, and said debate consisted of two contenders: the first, Silver Linings Playbook, a romantic drama in which Bradley Cooper and JLaw fall in love with each other (spoiler alert). The second, Still Alice, a Julianne Moore film (I highly recommend!) about a wife and mother who gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. We went with the latter; I figured it’d be more true to life.
On my flight over to Texas, I effortlessly lifted my carry-on suitcase into the overhead compartment all by myself, sans man (I attribute my newfound arm strength to kettle bell workouts). I looked around at my fellow plane passengers, and their blatantly impressed expressions said it all: Huh. I underestimated that skinny loner girl. I felt like a BAMF.
But on my way home, something changed, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I threw my suitcase up again – only this time, I felt worn out. For the first time, I felt like I wanted a helping hand. Maybe it was the Hot Couple Alert blurb in the tabloid I had just read, or the slew of women in the rows ahead of me whose boyfriends and husbands man-handled their luggage for them. Maybe it was the guy sitting next to me sending texts to “Baby” from his phone. I don’t know what it was, but I spent every second of putting up that suitcase feeling the loneliest I’ve ever felt (what is it about airports that makes me feel so damn lonely?)
I sat down, and my self-pity was eventually replaced by a snooze. Then, thump. We had landed. I turned on my phone. There were no texts from a special someone, just alerts from the usual suspects. My girlfriends. My mother. A couple of awesomely loyal Twitter followers.
A half-smile made its way across my face. I looked out the window, at those big, bold letters: I ❤ NY.