Aglance to the side. The occasional double-take. Some whispered conversation to the person they are walking with, who, of course, must turn and look as well. A flash of pity. Perhaps a small frown to their companion. They slowly pass, as another group walks by with the same result. I know this scene all too well.
As a single woman on the campus of Harding University, this happens to me a few times a week. This is particularly an issue because I like to sit on the swings by myself. I do not need a partner with whom to pass the time through discourse, I simply enjoy the outside. The stigma of “three swings and a ring” is burned into the minds of Harding’s female population, and swinging is therefore considered sacrosanct. Since I do not, however, have anyone with me, I am “of all people most to be pitied.” Admittedly, not everyone who sees me sitting alone assumes that I am in need of accompaniment, but there are certainly those that do.
When I go see a movie by myself, or go out to dinner alone, the same thing happens. Sometimes, I do want company, and appreciate when I am relieved of the silence by cheery conversation. It does not, however, mean that I am incomplete without another, particularly an exclusive relationship.
I have never been in any (serious or otherwise) relationship, and because I am not actively seeking one, I get interesting reactions. Many are worried they might catch the dangerous disease of quarantine that I carry. If infected, they would automatically become ancient spinsters with many cats, since the only time to find a spouse is in college. I do not fear that fate, perhaps because I am allergic to cats, or maybe because I understand the constructive nature of singleness.
Please do not misunderstand me. Relationships of any kind are crucial to life. Without them, most activities would lack color. We were made to be a part of other people’s lives, just as they were meant to be in ours. Community is key for everyone. And close relationships, such as those between interested parties, are rich and created for positive goals. I do not begrudge those who are in exclusive relationships or devalue their efforts to bless one another; I simply want us to consider another option.
All this to say that having people (boyfriends, girlfriends, friends) with you is great. Being alone, however, is not the end of the universe. It allows for internal reflection, personal introspection and independent growth. I relish the quiet time I periodically experience and the maturity it can bring. Do not pity those who are alone. Pity those who think that they must have significant others because society expects it of them. That is more of a curse than the alternative.