Saturday, February 15, 2014

You're Different, And Who Cares?

Today, being February 15th, (and thus the day after Valentine's Day) has been designated by some smart aleck to be Singles Awareness Day, the initials of which are somewhat unfortunate. For my part, my issues with being single were never around being sad (or S.A.D., as the case may be) but in attempting to dodge the judgements of others.

Given that some 90% or so of the American population is married, and some of the remaining 10% would like to be married at some point, being single and content to stay that way was an easy way to trigger "You're different, and that's bad." Not being in a relationship lead to being slapped with any number of unpleasant labels, from Coward to Immature to Suspected Sexual Offender. Of course, some people were well meaning. (While it never quite made sense to me how insisting that someone was in denial about an abiding fear of commitment was actually doing them a favor, I've encountered stranger concepts.)

Of course, it doesn't take bucking a broad majority of the populace to earn "You're different, and that's bad." Understanding the choices we make as universal imperatives and our personal judgments as objective facts is common, and so it's easy to see something wrong (and sometimes, very wrong) with people who come to things from a different worldview. Link that to a tendency to think that all of human experience should be relatable, and you have a recipe for disdain. In everyday life, politics is the primary example of this, but it bleeds into other facets of life, as well. Being an aspect of human nature, it doesn't have to make any sense, but it's something that we should understand. In the grand scheme of things, a person's relationship status is trivial, and thus safe to practice indifference towards. And it's practice that we need. The bigger choices we make in life often have large amounts of baggage attached to them, that leads to much more serious consequences than self-serving suspicions and social faux pas.

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