A Not So Typical Love Story


Written by Georgia Dykstra, Features Editor

Being single is hard. Let me rephrase: being single in high school is hard. I know we all put up this facade like being in a relationship in high school is overrated and not worth the energy and being single is fun! So, every year on Valentine’s Day we put on our best smile, convince ourselves that being single is better than being in a relationship, and treat ourselves to a present because we deserve it. And honestly, I don’t disagree with any of it. Actually, I fully support buying yourself a present solely for the reason that you deserve that new pair of fuzzy socks. But, I’m kind of really sick of pretending like I’ve never cared that I wasn’t in a relationship. And it’s really just not that helpful to operate under the pretense that being single is better than being in a relationship when you don’t truly believe it. So, I’m here to break down my experience with being single, why it sucks so bad in high school, and how I’m working towards actually enjoying it instead of just pretending like I do. 

For starters, being in a relationship looks like fun. Do I have first hand experience? No. Thanks for exposing me there, but no I don’t. We’ve all seen the instagram posts, though, and it looks like a good time. It’s kind of like a built-in best friend that you get to spend all your free time with and live out your perfect High School Musical dreams together. So yeah, there’s a little bit of FOMO there. A little bit of hey! I want to dance in the rain in my best dress, fearless. I want to have my “All Too Well” short film dancing in the refrigerator light moment, too. 

But, for me personally, I could get past the FOMO with the help of a few close friends and a competitive game of Scattergories; the truth is, being single in high school has fed off of my most damaging and painful insecurity. And that would be the constant fear that I don’t fit in, and nobody likes me. I think to some degree a lot of teenagers have experienced this, too. And I’ll be honest, high schoolers in relationships shove it down everyone else’s throats, and although there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it does make me feel like I’m in the minority. It feels like everyone else has that someone, y’know? Because of this, the sense that I’m the only one without someone deepens the insecurity that I don’t belong and that nobody actually likes me. It’s pretty damaging to my self esteem and self image because it reinforces the idea that I’m not good enough for myself and others, and it strengthens the desire to find someone because then I wouldn’t question who I am and what my value is as much… right?

It all starts to make sense why I’ve had periods of time where I obsess over who gets into a relationship before me and why it isn’t fair. But truth be told, that kind of mentality can and has caused extremely unhealthy expectations and goals for relationships in my life. I’ll share a somewhat recent example of mine. 

Let me set the scene for you. I have a job that I started working in June. And when I started working I became really good friends with someone from the grocery department. And he was friends with a very cute boy. But unfortunately said boy had a girlfriend… until around October of last year. So, during winter break I not so subtly asked my good friend to have a little chat with said boy. Their little chat went very well. It was a really fun couple of days navigating how to approach him during work and try to talk to him. Until it just wasn’t. Quite honestly, it wasn’t going as fast as I wanted it to. Now let me be clear: I didn’t think we were going to get married in 5 months, but I figured that after three days we’d say more to each other than “sup.” So, in a state of insecurity and determination to convince this guy that I’m really cool and awesome, I started trying to speed up the process. Spoiler alert! It didn’t work. It was so frustrating to the point that I cried at my kitchen table to my mom because I was really scared that he was going to lose interest in me and then I’d just be back to where I started. I had a rough week. It’s a little bit hard to explain but I felt like I was losing myself. Like I couldn’t find the parts of myself that I really like. This was until I took the time to go to the library and just sit there and journal.

It was really difficult to confront myself with, but I realized that the real reason I was so upset that it might not work out with this boy was because during the last month or so at school, I was at an all time low when it came to feeling like an outcast. And I didn’t want to admit it, but I felt like every day when I walked into school everyone just kind of thought I was weird and didn’t want to talk to me and pushed me aside like I didn’t matter. This made dating this very cute boy all the more enticing. Actually, it’s the entire reason I was so desperate to keep him interested in me. I felt so alone and outcast at school that I thought if I dated a boy from my job then people would start seeing me as valuable. Like if I pulled up a picture of us together then people would start looking at me like I was worth more because look! Somebody likes me, and he’s cute.

This literally made me start to cry in the middle of Orland Park Public Library. It was a really, really hard thing to think about and process. Because it had everything to do with me. It was me, hi, I was the problem, it was me. My motives were selfish and superficial all because I was desperate to feel accepted. And I think it’s a more common feeling than teenagers want to acknowledge. But, when I realized this, two things happened. 1) I stopped trying so hard to talk to this boy that I didn’t really like all that much in the first place. And 2) I realized that I want to see myself for everything I am and love about myself, and I want to surround myself with people that like me because of who I am, not because I’m dating a cute guy that goes to a different school. Because the reality is, even if me and this boy were to date, it wouldn’t have fixed my own insecurity of not being accepted by others. As Taylor Swift says: band aids don’t fix bullet holes. That’s a little dramatic, but it feels accurate. Being with someone for the wrong reasons or even for the right ones wasn’t going to fix my desperation to fit in and be accepted by others, even if it did give me a temporary boost of self esteem. The only thing that can help me with my most rooted and painful insecurities is my own personal reflection and growth. 

Which leads me to how I’m starting to truly be comfortable with being single and being by myself. I won’t lie, it’s not easy. There are still times where I just want to chat on a Wednesday in a cafe with someone that’s enchanted to meet me, but it’s a lot easier now to be comfortable being single when I remember that I really, really like who I am and that I don’t need a boyfriend in order to prove to myself or to other people that I have value.