I’ve recently come to the decision that I’m going to name my future cats after all of my favorite kinds of cheese. First we’ll have Mozzarella, then Cheddar (an orange cat, obviously), Gouda, Brie, and finally Ricotta. Yes, I am a painfully single twenty-one-year-old girl. Yes, I’ve gotten my heart broken a decent amount of times. And yes, I’m super bitter. But a recent conversation with an ex-boyfriend about my future cats has me rethinking all of that.
So maybe he’s not exactly an ex-boyfriend, but he’s certainly an ex-something. An ex-boy or an ex-friend or an ex-best-friend-kinda-sorta-almost-but-then-didn’t. And maybe I can admit to missing him and maybe he can admit to missing me, too. That maybe we’re just giving each other space, that we don’t want to work it out, that we reopen each other’s wounds before we’re allowed to heal. But whatever way I roll the dice with us, I am still left with a gaping hole and carefully considering my future cats.
When I told the ex-(you fill in the blank) about my cats, he laughed. “You’re going to have to start liking more kinds of cheeses.” His response was met with my mouth ajar, my eyes narrowed, and my mind wondering how much of an incredible jerk are you? He laughed some more and my eyes further narrowed. “Come on,” he insisted, “you know you’re awesome. You know I think you’re awesome.” And you know what? I really am pretty awesome.
My college is noticeably more densely populated by women than men, so naturally I’ve encountered just about every variety of young adult female imaginable. I’ve met a lot of single girls, and they’re all pretty awesome. (To be fair, I’ve met a lot of taken girls, and a lot of them are pretty awesome too, but this post isn’t about that.) It’s about the girls I see drinking their pink moscato out of plastic “Single Ladies” wine glasses and who bitterly adorn black to the dining hall’s “Couples Dinner” each February 14th. As a fellow pink-moscato-drinking, all-black-wearing, single lady, I salute those girls; but I have to ask: why all the bitterness? I’m single, and in a lot of ways I want to proclaim that my lack of man does not define my personality, but maybe in a lot of ways it does. Maybe, it defines those traits my ex deemed so “awesome.”
Being an awesome single lady has taught me a lot, like how the way I dress is for me and that food was meant to be eaten and enjoyed. It’s taught me that there’s a whole world inside of my campus’ library and that if I really want to, I could rule that world. What’s cool is most of my fellow Future Cat Ladies of America have embraced those luxuries that the single life provides, too.
I’ve learned that it can get hard sometimes, that a lot of nights I really do feel the emptiness inside of my hand and that yes, I will get lonely. But I’ve also learned that sometimes comedy is the best answer, that days where it gets a little bit darker than the rest, I just have to trivialize this all because really, if being single is the worst thing in my life, I’m pretty damn lucky. I’ve learned how to laugh. I’ve learned how to laugh a lot.
What’s more is on those darker, lonelier nights, I’ve learned that if I can’t laugh, it’s okay not to. It’s okay if I want to gather around my fellow Future Cat Ladies of America and watch The Notebook and cry that Allie and Noah’s love is so pure. I’ve learned that even if we Future Cat Ladies of America are single, everything will be okay. We are okay and we are valid, important, and worthwhile people who are deserving of happiness. I think people call that “confidence”.
There’s an uncited statistic circulated around a lot of girls my age that says that a young adult has three “serious” relationships prior to meeting the individual with whom they are supposed to spend the rest of their lives. While the Future Cat Lady living inside of me wants to declare that a crock of crap, the reasonable academic in me wants to acknowledge the substance of that statement. So maybe it isn’t necessarily three relationships we’re looking at (sometimes it’s one… or seven), but there’s something to be said about the amount of self-knowledge and self-worth acquired in a serious relationship (and a subsequent serious heartbreak). It might be vital in finally finding the right mate. So if I’m twenty-one, and I’ve never been in a serious relationship, and “statistically” I need at least three, that has me settling down at… thirty? Thirty-two? The Future Cat Lady in me is buying herself more anti-Valentine’s day garb, but the rest of me is excited at all of the time I have to achieve my goals; to publish my writing; to read more books; to spend more nights with my other fabulous single ladies; to have more nights dancing and scuffing patent leather heels along city streets.
And maybe I’ve dug myself into my Single Lady hole, that on weekend nights I spend less time straightening my hair and more time laughing with friends. And maybe instead of trying to impress a guy with a new dress, I’m rocking a comfy pair of jeans. This isn’t supposed to be some “slut-shaming” article; this is supposed to be a power-praising one. And I’m not trying to say girls in relationships suck; like I said before, right now, it isn’t about them. This is for my fellow Future Cat Ladies of America, how maybe we need to see all the awesome in ourselves, how maybe we need to see that being a Future Cat Lady of America is what makes us awesome.
Now, instead of hiding shamefully my perpetual single status, I wear my title as a Future Cat Lady of America with pride. I know I’m not loved by somebody else; on the contrary, I’m appreciated most by myself and not a significant other. I know that being a Future Cat Lady isn’t something to be scared of, mostly because we all know it’s a load of mellow-drama; we won’t die alone. But maybe this attitude that is so often bitterly mocked by young women is one we should embrace, one that somehow gives us confidence, and somehow makes us awesome.
So girls, I raise my glass to you: may our jokes always remain funny and our books always open; may we work hard at our jobs, but play harder with our fellow single ladies; and, as the old adage says, may our heels remain high, but our standards higher.