Like most people my age, my peers and I are semi-frequently in romantic crisis. I suppose it’s part of being young and dumb and somehow attracting several other over-thinkers so you can sit in your apartment and drink wine and fret. I guess I should be lucky I am throughly not rishta material, but I digress.
And in these moments of crisis, I’ve been saying something that has slowly dawned on me, inspired by all of cringingly cliched things, a horribly white-lady-feminism-misguided-sexual-liberation mix of two pieces of shall we say, cinematic regurgitations of pop culture: Girls and the truly Oscar-worthy How to be Single (HTBS)
Now, I will admit, I have seen exactly 9 episodes of Girls and have seen HTBS twice because I’m a monster with terrible taste in films. But, somehow those two have managed to drive a point home that I wish I could personally deliver to every single 20-something single girl.
But let me lay the groundwork first.
My manager at work has a 2 year old and a 4 month old, and quite frankly, her life sounds exhausting. When she’s not at work, her life is fully about these kids. She gets 15 minutes a night, if she’s lucky, to herself. 15 MINUTES. It’s made me really think about what my mom’s own life must be like. Well, she has it a bit easier now, but back when me and my sister were little? Dang. After work I can barely muster the energy to drag myself home and do stuff that’s 100% for me: cooking, eating, showering, doing homework, reading, just enjoying my life like a normal person. Let alone looking after 2 small humans who are wholly dependable on me.
I have a friend who’s married, (no, she’s not an older friend she is a married 20 year old deal with it), and the other day I was thinking about what it must be like to be married. She stopped staying out late with her friends once their relationship got serious, she had someone to come to. When they both are not working or in class, they’re hanging out. It’s weird to think about having a default person to hang out with. My default person is myself.
At the end of HTBS the main character has just finished an overnight hike in the Grand Canyon on New Year’s Eve and as she stands on the edge of a cliff, looking thoughtfully into the distance, she says:
Because, in a week, or a lifetime, of being alone, you may only get one moment.when you’re not tied up in a relationship with anyone.
One moment, when you stand on your own.
And it didn’t it me like some of weird rah-rah I’m happy to be young and unattached kind of way. It just suddenly struck me that we get so little time to be alone, to be responsible for just ourselves. And the time will come when other people depend on us, when our lives are inextricably tangled up in someone else’s. It will happen. But for now, our lives are our entirely our own. And that’s super scary, like really scary. We aren’t responsible for anyone, we aren’t beholden to anyone, everything we are and do is for ourselves alone. And isn’t that absolutely brilliant?
We get to be selfish. We get to decide who and what fits in our life with no apologies, no explanations. And we barely even know who we are and what direction is up but we have all the time in the world to mess up and bumble around until we figure it out, we strike gold.
I guess what I’m trying to say, there is virtue in being selfish. There’s a gift in living for yourself. Do it while you still can.