If you've had the average Indian upbringing, you grew up thinking that finding and keeping a spouse is one of the markers of adulthood. You probably never contemplated that as an adult, you might prefer to be by yourself or that you don't automatically fall in love. Most of us didn't have templates for how to deal with this change in life's expected trajectory. And it certainly doesn't help that even now, being in a marriage or a relationship — even if it leaves you listless, unfulfilled and miserable — is somehow better than the terrifying proposition of being 'left' alone. As if it wasn't an adult decision, but an affliction that needed to be cured. Navigating the single world can be confusing and exhausting in a world that treats marriage as a virtue and romantic relationships sacrosanct. So here are 7 ways to help you be the badass single you were meant to be.
Get out there, for yourself
We've been trained to treat singlehood with the kind of contempt we reserve for rashes — it needs to be covered up and gotten rid of as soon as possible. And so we, and people closest to us, leave no stone unturned in the hunt for The One. Friends will start parading their other single friends for you at parties; parents and relatives will try and hook you up with single kids of their friends; you will be encouraged to sign up for dating services, both online and offline; and there will be at least one inspired person who will take it upon themselves to make an online matrimonial profile for you because "you never know and it can't hurt to look, right?" But that's the thing. It can hurt. While there's nothing wrong with looking — aggressively — and enlisting the help of your whole support system to do it, take a moment to recognise how bone-crushingly exhausting it can be to treat yourself and your life as a WIP as you wait for someone to come and complete it. It can get so exhausting that you might end up jumping into a relationship simply to end the misery of constantly waiting. Admit it, we've all either been on, or come close to, being in a relation that made no sense at all simply so we could stop being single. Which is why, it's important to put yourself out there, for the simple joy of being out there, not because it's something you need to do to end the state of singlehood. Meet people as people, not potential lovers or parents of your future babies, and let them see and like you for the person you are, minus any agenda.
Set an impossible goal
There's one big, glaring benefit to being single that we recognise the value of and moan about only after the time has passed — you have the complete freedom to be as guiltlessly self-absorbed as you can possibly be. Think about it — when you're an adult, you have the money and the means, but when you're single, you're the only one who has a say on how you spend your time and resources. Why waste that? Do something that would be wild, outlandish, even impossible to pull off, if you had to factor someone else's needs into the equation. We spend so much of our life playing second fiddle in our own narrative. Singlehood is the golden ticket to the other side. Milk it for all its worth, while you have it.
Take yourself on a date
There's a difference between taking yourself on a date and doing something on your own because, well, you're single. I don't know why people automatically assume that being single means unlimited reserves of free time. Most single people I know have incredibly busy, fulfilled lives. Regardless of whether you're a social butterfly or a shrinking violet, every once in a while, disconnect and spend time with yourself. Ask your couple friends how much they'd like to go on a date with themselves. Everyone should do it, but when you're single, it's just that much easier to carve out time for yourself, so do it. There is something innately irresistible about people who know how to enjoy their own company.
Don't be "consoled"
One of the most odious parts of singlehood is the people who feel the need to console and offer hope in the form of platitudes like "it's just around the corner" or "it'll happen when you least expect it/stop looking for it", without spending one hot second to ask the whether you even want to be in a relationship at all or at that point in your life. Don't let people's idea of what a happy, fulfilled life looks like make you question the path you've decided for your life. Roll your eyes or snap back with impatience, but let them know, loud and clear that you are in no need of their input or commiseration.
Say NO without guilt
Just because you don't have a partner whose needs you need to be mindful of, doesn't give your friends and family the liberty to make unreasonable demands on your time. While you may have more flexibility in your schedule and are willing to accommodate people, feel free to put your needs first and say 'no' to people. You don't have to explain why your date with yourself is just as important to you as your married best friend's date is with their partner; and you certainly don't need their approval for what you do with your time.
Stick to your standards
Being with someone has to feel better than being alone. There's simply no other reason to do it. Why would you sign up for all the disgusting sights, smells and sounds and the general grossness that comes with co-habiting with another person if they don't, for the most part, make you feel fantastic about yourself and what life has in store. Whatever standard you've set for your love life, stick to it. While no one gets everything they envisioned in a partner, being with someone should never feel like a compromise in life.
Don't give up on love
And finally, being single, even when it's not exactly the life you pictured or the plan you had for yourself, doesn't have to turn you into a cynical curmudgeon who dumps all over the idea of love. Sure, it can get frustrating when everyone other than you seems to be able to find what they're looking for. But it would be such a shame to give up on love and then not be able to recognise its magic when it does happen for you. It is possible to enjoy being single and believe in love, will it, wait for it and welcome it if and when it happens, at the same time.