In light of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, I’d like to examine a topic that’s been discussed over and over and over again: this atrocious winter weather.
No, no. That’s not right. Being a single twenty-something. Thaaaaaat’s what I meant to say.
Let me begin by saying that I am happy. Content with where things are in my life, both professionally and personally. Sure, I’d love to have a job that provided benefits, but hey, I’ll take the benefits of simply being able to support myself using my graduate degree. A musician paying her bills by being a musician? Unthinkable! And let’s not overlook the fact that I have some truly outstanding friends.
However, before you say to yourself, “Well, if she’s so happy, where’s the issue?” let me nip that skepticism in the bud. In a bit of internet time-squandering the other morning, I stumbled across a piece about Sadie Hawkins dances. While the overarching point of the article is more about gender roles and feminism than this little rant of mine (I’m gonna let it shine…), there’s one sentence that made me want to stand up and shout a hearty “Amen”:
“but now it’s [the Sadie Hawkins premise of women actively pursuing men] a little too precious and gender normative for my taste, and rooted in the same terror of spinsterhood that tells women they aren’t complete unless they’ve caught themselves a live one.”
Spinster? Who uses that word anymore? Too few people, I say. Because even if nobody says the word itself, the attitude is alive and well, I assure you. It could come from single people who feel like they have no intrinsic worth unless they’re in a relationship, or from people in relationships who look upon single folks with pity, assuming that because you’re single, you’re looking to change that; either way, the antiquated, 19th-century idea of a “spinster” is still present in the 21st century. The crazy cat lady. The library volunteer who goes home to her…cats. Ok, it’s not just about having cats, but you get the point.
Let’s imagine that there is such a thing as a 21st-century spinster. A liberated, independent spinster. A spinster without the negative connotations. What would she look like? She would be involved in the community, perhaps through volunteering. She would be surrounded by a solid support group of varied friends. She would be spiritually fulfilled in whatever way that manifests itself. She would have a career that allows her a sense of accomplishment. And what the heck, maybe she’d even have a cat. The best part though? Nobody would look at her and say, “Yes, but aren’t you missing something?”
In writing this, I know I’m opening myself up to scrutiny from both sides of the fence. And no, I’m not just writing this to make myself feel better about being single. Nor am I anti-relationship; if the right guy waltzed into my life I’d be fine with that. But until that day, if and when it comes, Valentine’s Day hype can proclaim that romance is the ultimate pinnacle of happiness all it wants. I’m sure it is, or at least can be. I don’t have time to think about that, though. I have to go hang out with some cats.