When I came to Bucknell as a first-year student, I was in a committed, healthy, long-distance relationship. The “hook up” culture on campus was entirely foreign to me, and I was thankful that I didn’t have to deal with it in addition to making the transition from home to school. When I talked with my high school friends, we all had different ideas of what “hooking up” meant based on the lingo at our different schools, so we spent much of the year defining the term and reminding each other just how far it stretched.
So when my relationship ended at the beginning of my sophomore year, being “single” in college was a brand-new phenomena for me. I’m not sure if it’s a Bucknell “thing” or a general college trend, but despite my efforts to be “open minded” (as everyone and their mothers advised me to be), I just couldn’t find my place in the hook up culture and have since come to the conclusion that hooking up isn’t for me. Yep, I said it. Maybe last year I could hide behind my relationship status and not have to acknowledge that I wasn’t really comfortable with this scene, but this year I’ve met it head on. I know making such strong public statement is a bold move, but it’s occurred to me that maybe I’m not the only one who feels that this isn’t my ideal lifestyle. It’s a completely personal decision, which is why I decided to take the leap and share some of the thoughts and observations that have shaped my choices.
It’s hard to deny feelings. We’re all capable of being hurt, and though the fear of getting hurt alone isn’t good reason to hold back from living life and exploring new territory, it’s also a valid point to consider when it comes to your happiness. A lot of people claim to be good at “keeping it casual” and separating a friendship from a sexual relationship, but “When Harry Met Sally” taught me that feelings are hard to deny and lines become easily blurred. Personally, I know myself well enough to admit that I’m a sensitive person. I get attached. I don’t want to compete with ten other girls for someone’s attention. My heart just isn’t cut out for a role in a real life version of “The Bachelor”.
A large majority of the “girl talk” between my friends and I is devoted to deciphering everything that boys do. From the exact syntax of their conversation on the quad in between classes to the punctuation in text messages that he sent her at 2am and everything in between, we usually analyze it all…and let me tell you, it’s pretty exhausting. Sometimes, we all need to vent—that’s totally valid and acceptable, but commiserating doesn’t always make me feel connected to people. For example, being single on Valentine’s Day would’ve been fine by me if people didn’t try to make it so miserable by complaining about “our” collective singleness! Honestly, I’d rather spend my energy dancing or laughing or eating fro-yo than agonizing over these little things. “Games” are confusing. That being said, it’s fun to share butterfly-inducing moments, and that’s a great element of so many female friendships. But in my experience, being direct when discussing things with guys is often the more mature, efficient way of dealing with things. If you can’t communicate before you’re in a relationship, chances are you’ll have even more trouble being in one.
It’s relaxing to go out with friends and be completely carefree. It’s freeing to not have to worry about what people think of my ridiculous dance moves or the fact that I only ever wear my purple Converse to parties. As long as I know I’m safe, it feels good to let go a little and allow myself to focus on connecting to each moment, instead of wondering where I’m going to end up at the end of the night (shout out to late night cereal binges with the roomie and my cozy bed!).
Not only has sophomore year introduced me to life as a single collegiate, but it also has me involved in a seemingly-exponential amount of new activities and organizations, which I love. Pursuing your passions and exploring your interests creates lasting fulfillment, and there’s no better time to do so than while in college—we have the most freedom and the least amount of responsibility at this stage of life (technically speaking…because it sure does feel like we have lots of responsibilities and “tasks” cluttering up our Lilly planners!). It’s rewarding to find pieces of ourselves in things that we care about and these things often generate happiness that far surpasses one night of euphoria. I also think that getting to know people is exciting and making emotional connections is just as important, if not more important than making physical connections. You’re so much more than just a body, so give people some insight into your colorful, bright, deep mind!
Going off of that, now is a great time to figure out how to love and take care of yourself, as well as to appreciate all of the love that already exists in your life. It’s important to take note of all the types of love already surrounding us: the love we share with friends and family, the love we have for the things we’re passionate about, the love that motivates us to get up and go everyday, and, the kind of love that I’m an especially strong proponent of, self-love. There’s a difference between being selfish and putting yourself first, so take the time to devote to YOU! We need to be able to trust and know ourselves completely in order to know what we want and need from another person. We also need to learn to care for ourselves in order to be able to care for others.
Most importantly, what’s for you will not pass you. Call me crazy, but I truly believe it. Sure, it’s nice to feel desired and instant gratification often appears more appealing than patience, but the right person will come into your life when it’s time. It sounds cliché, but from my experience, it’s usually when you’re least expecting it that opportunity comes knocking.
Whether you hook up or don’t hook up, I hope this article has inspired you to unapologetically embrace your decision, without an ounce of shame. Of course, I wrote this based on what feel right for me, personally, but the choice is always yours.