The Privilege of Living Alone September 9, 2009Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., single and happy.
Tags: living alone, no roommates, ph.d. exams, privilege, stereotypes about singles
To our regular readers, it is obvious that one of the main reasons why Christina and I started this blog was to resist and subvert cultural stereotypes that flatten (in mostly negative ways) what it means to be single. Most of our concerns run in either one of two directions — either providing positive examples of people (ourselves or others) who are happily single, or providing examples (and then rebutting them) that illustrate the (dismaying) prevalence of negative assumptions about single people that continue to abound in our everyday lives.
Rarely, however, do Christina and I write about how being single might be understood as a privilege. The reason we rarely describe our lives in this way is because this would promote a value-system that suggests that people who prefer coupling are somehow less valuable than people who are single. We hope it’s clear that our point on Onely is not to promote single living to the detriment or exclusion of others — rather, we simply want to point out that our lives are valuable too — against all the negative stereotyping that goes on around (and about) us.
But I’ve got to admit: I really do think that living alone is a privilege.
Now, I recognize that, in saying this, I am making a distinction here between singles who live by themselves and singles who live with roommates, exes, other family members, etc. I’m also making a distinction between those who can afford to live alone and those who must live with others in order to survive. And I’m also making a distinction between those who prefer to be around people and those who prefer solitude.
These are important distinctions, and ones I’m aware are important. So I’m certainly not saying that, in writing this, I represent all single people. But I am saying that, at this point in my life, I might give up a lot of things, but I would absolutely not give up my solitude.
In this post a week or two ago, I wrote about how I am currently in the throes of studying for my Ph.D. exams (I take three this semester). Over the last three weeks, I have skimmed 50+ texts, and I have about a hundred more to go before I can rest (in fact, it’s a miracle that I’m able to muster up the brain power to compose this post)! And I’ve been noticing — indeed, have been feeling very grateful for — the advantage I have over many of my peers, especially the ones with spouses, children, and/or less than satisfying living situations. Not only have I never been so focused in my life, but I have also never needed (or appreciated) my space and solitude as much as I need it now.
In my current situation, I’ve got to admit: it is a true privilege to live alone.
Copious readers, what else makes living alone (and/or being single) a privilege that make you (occasionally) feel sorry for your coupled friends?
(as a sidenote — my current situation also means that you probably won’t hear from me much in the next few weeks, and Christina has promised to take up whatever slack she can. But please give me [and her] some slack in return if things slow down a little around here — I (and we) will be back in full force once I can think again!)