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What To Do When You’re the 3rd (5th or 7th) Wheel

Just a few days ago, I found myself in a rather unexpected, and even more unusual situation. A group of friends and I decided to take advantage of a warm Friday afternoon and grab an early dinner outside on Pearl Street. As we ordered food and drinks, I looked around the table and, much to my astonishment, I was the only single person in our group of 9. Nine! I was the 9th wheel on this train of love and monogamy, and we were steamrolling towards an evening of date-like intentions quickly. Now, I’ve never been one to complain or even mind being the third wheel, since many of my closest friends seemingly all have boyfriends and I’ve long gotten used to the occurrence. But this particular situation, in which I was surrounded by 4 couples, rendered me somewhat speechless. As I guzzled my beer, hoping to block out the palpable reality of my single status, I got to thinking: How do I embrace situations like this one, since they are bound to happen again? And furthermore: How do I make the most out of being single? I know I’m not alone in sometimes feeling like an anomaly when in the presence of other twosomes, so I’ve brainstormed a list on how to navigate and even embrace the single life in college.

1. Talk to Everyone.
Being single during college is a unique and exciting time in life. You have limitless opportunities to meet and get to know new people everyday, so why not take complete advantage while you can? That cute guy you’ve been eyeing from across the lecture hall all semester? Switch up your designated seat and sit by him one day. The stunner ordering drinks further down the bar? Get out of line and inquire into what he’s having. Regardless of the situation, you get the point. Now is the time in all of our single lives to chat up and harmlessly flirt with other co-eds, all without the constrictions of a relationship or significant other. While the typical “Where are you from? What’s your major?” conversation has admittedly become cliché, it undoubtedly opens doors to an interaction you may not have originally had. So embrace the opportunity to talk to and meet any and everyone, all without the relationship repercussions. And while your BFF is fighting with her BF for talking to “some guy”, you have complete freedom to peruse the merchandise and seek out exactly what, or who, interests you most. Be safe and enjoy!
2. Cultivate a Sense of Independence.

Without sounding too New Age-y or like your parents, being single is an AWE-some time to really figure out who you are and what you want out of life. Being single means calling your own shots and doing what YOU want to do each day. Want to explore the Flatirons, discover a new coffee shop, or simply catch up on reading in the sunshine? Not being in a relationship allows you to do this whenever you want. No more consulting someone else’s schedule or waiting for your significant other to get out of class- go and do the things you’ve longed for! Boulder is actually an amazing place to be independent, since no one will judge you for ordering lunch by yourself, or going on a solo bike ride. Cultivate a sense of being comfortable with yourself now, and it will payoff throughout life.
3. Focus on School/Work/Career.
Being single also means your undivided time and attention can be directed towards school and after-graduation plans. Okay, so this isn’t the most exciting aspect of singlehood, but it’s certainly an important one. Without a BF/GF grappling for your attention, you can prioritize school and work in ways you otherwise may not have been able to. Furthermore, being single is a prime time to study abroad, get an internship in another city or state, or volunteer with an international organization. Whatever your academic dreams may be, now is the time to realize them and see them through! And without relationship woes and worries on your mind, you’ll be able to fully focus on the task at hand, and put your strongest efforts into what needs to get done.
4. Focus on Other Relationships.
If you have similarly single friends outside of your core group, now is a great chance to reach out and catch up with them. No one’s saying that you need an entirely new group of single friends once your BFFs get boyfriends, but connecting with others you may have neglected is an effective way of maintaining a social life on “date night.” And, while this may come as a last resort for many single collegiettes, quality family time can be a surprising solace within the unchartered territory of single life. If your family lives close enough to visit on a weekend, take a few hours out of your day for brunch and to let them now what’s really going on in your life. If nothing else, you’ll get a free meal out of the deal!
5. Take a Risk.
It goes without saying that you don’t need your significant other’s permission to express your individual style, but being single is also a great time to fearlessly experiment with a new look. Be it a hair color change, a fresh take on a fashion trend, or testing out a different fitness class, now is the time to take chances. Try everything and decide what speaks most to your interests and unique style. Along the way, you’ll likely garner a strong sense of confidence that’ll propel you through these single times and possibly even attract the attention of another co-ed. The sense of empowerment that is gained through being outside your comfort zone and tackling new challenges is unparalleled, so welcome it with open arms! Don’t be afraid of experimenting and letting your true self show- the single time is the BEST time to do this.  
Being single in an epidemic of monogamous relationships can sometimes feel like a blow to the ego (OK, that was a bit dramatic), but the moral of the story stands: Embrace the single life! Embrace a life of no-rules and no-strings-attached (while maintaining levels of class and respect, of course). Embrace independence and self-reliance, the kind that only comes from living each day the way you want and desire. As the great Holstee Manifesto states, “If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.” Now get to it collegiettes!        

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