A few weeks ago, TSM ran an article written by a girl who “needs” a boyfriend. It was a well-written personal account of why she is happier in a relationship than she is single, and I get it, I do. Who doesn’t want someone to come home to? Who doesn’t enjoy date nights and lazy Sundays in bed? Who doesn’t enjoy having someone? Again, I get it. It’s nice to have a boyfriend, but it’s not necessary. And you do not, I repeat, do not need a boyfriend.
While many of the things I write fall somewhere on the scale between silly and absurd, every now and then, I have the urge to write something real. To, you know, pass on the very few and very small pearls of wisdom that I have acquired throughout my twenty-something years of existence, if you will. While Hot Piece is America’s Big, I’d like to consider myself that girl whose Little disaffiliates and so she spends her time at pregames and formals jumping in the staged pictures of other families. No one really knows where I came from or how I wound up in their lineage photo, but I’m there, nonetheless. That’s what this column is like: you didn’t ask for me to corner you at a mixer and cry into my tenth vodka soda over why your time in college is precious and why you, as a pledge, should learn from my mistakes, but I don’t care. For right now, this website is our metaphorical mixer, you are the metaphorical pledge, and I am the not-so-metaphorical drunken mess who is desperately clinging to my youth. So listen to me, damn it. I actually know what I’m talking about.
I’m not going to stand on a soap box, I won’t tell you to do as I say and not as I do, and I will not say that I didn’t make mistakes or do stupid shit in college. I still make mistakes and do stupid shit. It’s called being fun. I don’t live in a delusional universe of thinking that you read my ramblings for any reason other than being entertained while you’re bored at the library or stuck in an Organic Chem lecture. I get it, I’m not Oprah. Hell, I’m not even Gayle. But if I can catch you at the library or in a lecture and you actually read this, and even one of you thinks “Hmm…I don’t want to be like that girl,” then I’ll count that as a success. This is not some holier-than-thou, “Be like me” diatribe. This is the opposite. Don’t be like me. That is what I want you to take away from this: do not be like me.
I had a boyfriend in college. A very serious boyfriend. I thought he was the one, that he was the end all be all, put a ring on it, let’s go home. Two weeks after I met him, I told my mother that he was the man that I was going to marry. I was twenty years old and thought that my life was entirely figured out. I was going to marry this person. I was going to love him and cherish him and someday. I was going to have his babies. I threw my entire life into our relationship, and as a result, I lost myself completely. I went from being carefree and free-spirited to rigid and refined. I switched the t-shirts I had once worn as dresses to exchanges for cardigans that I was now wearing to brunch. I ditched plans with my friends. I missed out on chapter meetings and sisterhood events. I was called to standards for my disappearance. I skipped out on birthdays and bid days. I missed class, I missed mixers, and I missed out on a very large portion of my college experience.
In all fairness, he never asked me to do any of this. He never requested that I choose him over my friends, or skip my last formal in favor of Chinese takeout and a Netflix binge on his sofa. He never gave me an ultimatum. And truth be told, I don’t think he ever really cared to. I threw myself so severely and so completely into our relationship, that I forgot who I was. I lost sight of my ambitions, my drive, and my self-worth. My happiness was his happiness. My life was his life. He was my rock, he was my center, and slowly but surely, I lost my identity. I became the girl whose life revolved around her boyfriend. I was clingy, I was needy, I was “that girl.”
When he broke up with my a few months before my graduation, I was completely lost. For so long, my entire life had revolved around another person, that I had forgotten what it was like to be on my own. I was so wrapped up in the idea of being with someone that I had completely abandoned the person who I once was and I paid the price for that. I missed out on spring break, on mixers, on formals, and on friendships. I missed out on experiences, on pictures, and on memories. I will never get that time back. I will never get to recreate those nights at the bar, or late night Taco Bell runs, or the snuggling in bed with my sisters. I lost out on that because I thought that I was the type of girl who needed a boyfriend.
Though I will never get that time back, you have it now. You’re in it. It’s happening. This is it. If you have a boyfriend, great; you can be in a healthy relationship without missing out on your college experience. It’s a balance. If you don’t have a boyfriend, don’t obsess over it. Don’t get home from the bar and turn on Taylor Swift and cry yourself to sleep. Don’t go out in the pursuit of finding a man. Don’t let your happiness depend on whether or not you have someone. Enjoy yourself. Live in the moment. Cherish your friends and relish in your experiences. Boys will come and go, they really will, but these four years right now, this is it. This is all you have. Enjoy it, girl. Smile through the bullshit, dance on tables, be carefree, drink tequila, have fun, and make bad decisions. You need your friends, you need to make memories, but you do not need a boyfriend.