By Chloe McLaughlin
Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2012
I hate to admit it, but I go to a school where it is incredibly common for girls to graduate with not only a Bachelor’s degree, but also an M.R.S. degree. Common IWU terms are “Ring by Spring” and “Freshman Mating Season.” (Ring by Spring refers to the ridiculous amount of engagements that happen in the months of February-April. Freshmen Mating season is basically just a loving description of the madness that ensues as the freshmen discover new future mate possibilities. Yes. It really is that ridiculous.) It seems like so much value is placed on finding a mate and it is an embarrassment to graduate with a bare left ring finger. Since when did it become a crime to be single at 22 or 23?
I will openly admit that I don’t really have any experience where relationships are concerned; in fact I have spent 19 years becoming really awesome at being single. My friends have said before that I am single and failing to mingle. Don’t be too jealous. Haha ? (I should also note that the possibility of this streak being broken anytime soon is slim, because I go to a college where the girl: guy ratio is 3:1. Yes I am still serious.) I have never been ashamed of my single status, because I have learned how to be myself. So many people, especially women, see singleness as a weakness or a disease of some kind. Well news flash my teenage and twenty-something friends, IT’S NOT!!! Embrace your singleness without shame!!
Come on All my single Ladies!
My mom has always taught me that being married and having a family is wonderful, but there is something amazing about the years you get to be yourself. My early twenties are the years I should be finishing up school and pursuing my dreams, but the average expectation seems to be that I will be planning a wedding. I want to spend the next 6-8 years chasing the things that I have been dreaming about my entire life! I want to have the freedom to live somewhere incredible, travel around the world with nothing but a back pack, or ride my bike across the country like my mom did. After all, you really do only live once. I don’t want to regret not pursuing one of my dreams.
There is nothing shameful about being single. It can be exhilarating and fulfilling! Whenever I accidently drink the IWU Kool-Aid and start getting down about being “alone” I just remember that my relationship status on Facebook or a silver band on my left hand does not define my value. I have to love myself before someone else can love me.
So ladies (and gents if you are reading this!) do not stress about being “alone!” Spend your college years trying to find your maid of honor or best man and then you can worry about your groom or bride. Becoming your best self does not have to include another person! Enjoy college and stop worrying! Become YOU and happiness will follow!
Chloe McLaughlin is a college freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana majoring in Church Music and Christian Worship. Originally from Frankfort, Indiana, Chloe was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2012. Learn more about Chloe here!