by: Sohini Ashoke
It is undeniable that high school is an environment filled with a multitude of pressures ranging from academic to social. One of these pressures that I have come across during my experience at Gunn is the negative connotation surrounding being single. Through my two and a half years in high school, I have noticed that whenever it comes up in conversation that I am currently single, people tend to say things like, “Oh, it’s okay, you’ll find someone,” or just a plain old, “Aww that sucks.” Although sometimes these comments get to me and make me feel out of place or abnormal, I try to remind myself that being single is not a negative thing: you do not need to be in a relationship to feel content or have fun. The pressures to date in high school come from my peers, the media and general social norms.
To start off, I want to clarify that I do not believe that being in a relationship in high school is a negative or problematic thing. If an individual feels fulfilled and happy in a relationship, then they should continue to do that. My statement is that being single should not be stigmatized or viewed as a negative and unhappy experience. A benefit of being single is having more time for yourself. I have had more time to focus on things like The Oracle and Model United Nations, which give me purpose and make me feel accomplished. I have also never had to deal with the emotional stress that comes from breaking up. Personally, a lot of my friends and peers around me are in relationships, and they often have difficulty with understanding that it is possible to be single and happy. Although I have no issue with people who feel that a high school relationship is worth it for them, I feel that it has given me more free time and happiness.
The mindset that dating in high school is the normal thing to do partly comes from subliminal pushings from the media. As a single person, it is hard to feel like not being in a relationship is normal when the media constantly suggests otherwise. In many popularized shows and movies, the conventional students are often portrayed as dating, with an emphasis put on how happy they are in their relationship. The single people in these kinds of shows are consistently labeled as the stereotypical lonely, uncool, wannabe kids. Some examples of this are through shows like Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale and even movies for younger kids like High School Musical. In Pretty Little Liars, for example, Emily, Aria, Spencer and Hannah are in a relationship in high school for almost the entire show. Although the media should not be a place to look for how to conform to so called “norms,” the reality is that many teenagers do.
Not every person desires a relationship in order to be happy, and for some people being single gives them more freedom and, consequently, more happiness. People can even be aromantic and simply not experience any emotional attraction to anybody at all. Given the pressure that being a high school student adds already, the emotional stress that can come from relationships, healthy or not, can negatively affect your life. An example of this is that when an individual is in a relationship, there is an inherent responsibility for your partner’s emotions, especially during disputes. The reality of the situation is that high school for many people can be a place of stress and pressures, and people in high school should start changing their mindset towards being single in high school. People should start to see the positives in being single instead of viewing it as a place of discontent.
—Ashoke, a junior, is a News Editor