It's 2016 and at 22 years old I've seen my fair share of romantic comedies and chick flicks to know they all have one thing in common. There's always one male or female character, no matter the age, that is perpetually single. They're a virgin in every sense of the term: they've never been kissed, never been on a date, they're shy/awkward and the one thing that is constantly on their mind? Their eternal single-dom.
As a perpetual single lady myself, I related to these characters. They, in a way, encapsulated my so called innocence. They were constantly surrounded by people who were in love, falling in love or did nothing but talked about their significant other. There was, however, always a point during the film or TV series where my connection to them was lost. In my experience, not everyone in high school falls in love, not everyone in high school is having sex. I remember being an avid Glee fan. I watched the show religiously and in its last few seasons they finally introduced a character that spoke to me more so than the rest: Marley. Marley, like myself was a sweet, tall and yes single girl who struggled with her sense of self esteem. She was, in a nutshell, the Hollywood depiction of a "good girl." The girl that all the popular girls make fun of and look down upon for being a prude or a loser or someone who doesn't know how to have, what they consider, fun. Despite my lack of musical abilities, I was thrilled to finally see TV writers bring to life a version of myself to television. That is, until she was no longer single. She started having the same issues as most of the other characters, getting her heart broken, being cheated on and being lovesick. Her character went from relatable to...a carbon copy of the rest.
I've never been in in a relationship, it's true, but I've also never worried about the fact that I wasn't. As a feminist in the 21st century I find it offensive that most characters in the fictional world, whether it be in the movies I see or the books I read, are more concerned with love received from a man than from within themselves. Happiness comes from knowing who you are and what you stand for. Happiness comes from comfort within yourself, not being comfortable in a relationship. Let's end the stigma against being single in your 20's.
Before entering the theater my perception of How To Be Single was this: a wild party girl takes a single, "good girl" and shows her how to party and care only about drinking and casual sex. Boy was I wrong.
Granted, this was a minor theme in the film, but it wasn't the main story line. The movie depicts the intertwining story lines of three leading ladies: Alice, Meg and Lucy. Alice is a newly single college graduate. She dated the same guy for the last four years and wants a chance to be on her own. She thinks the best thing for her to do is experience her life with other people before committing to a life with her boyfriend, Josh. Meg, her sister, is an OBGYN who's thrown herself into her career. Lucy is a quintessential hopeless romantic who has found staying in a relationship quite challenging.
Although the film revolves around these and other essential characters, Alice is the one whom speaks to me the most. We see a progression of her character, from when she meets Josh to who she is after Josh. Alice believes, at the beginning of the film, that in order to know if she and Josh are truly meant to be she has to do some exploring. She has to meet new people and be a little adventurous as a single woman before she decides to completely settle down. From the get go it's clear she doesn't know who she is or what she wants, typically so of a young 22 year old. She felt the need to put her relationship on hold to be on her own. There is no such thing as a "break." You're either in a relationship or you're not. For Alice, labeling it a break meant she wasn't necessarily making a decision, she was giving herself a hall pass. She learns however, that for Josh, a break meant moving on, and move on he did.
Once Alice realizes she's officially single and on her own she gets a little lost. Lost in the party life, lost in relationships with guys that show vague interest; her identity is overshadowed by her inability to see there's more to the single life than random hookups and nights out. She went from a relationship with her long time boyfriend to a relationship with everything and everyone but herself. There comes a point in the film where Robin, her party guru, exclaims that she may live a different kind of lifestyle but at least she knows who she is. The whole point of Alice taking time off from her relationship was to find herself and be with herself for awhile, and yet the entire film she completely avoided doing just that, She was using the drinking and the random connections to fill the void of a missing relationship: the one with herself.
The ways in which one finds oneself in this crazy, messed up wild world we live in is different for everyone. They way one person may deal with their everyday life won't work for someone else. You have to find your own corner of sanity. Sometimes finding yourself means doing everything you've always wanted to do but never took a chance, maybe it's finally allowing yourself the chance to let someone take some of the burden and maybe it's realizing that there is freedom in knowing that there is someone out there who loves you for exactly who you are.
It's not about who's single and who's not. You're not going to end up alone if you're 22 and still single. Life doesn't stop just because you haven't had your first kiss or you don't know how to change the settings on your TV without your boyfriends help. Life is about discovering who we are, if we're happy with how our lives are going and what we're willing to do to make ourselves better human beings. Value the time you have for yourself, learn to pick your own scattered pieces off the floor, soak in the moments of solitude. Be comfortable with yourself and maybe, just maybe, you'll find someone comfortable enough to be there with you.
Never forget the essence of your spark!