BY NAIEKA RAJ ’19
If you have ever come across a vapid, face-palm-worthy, pseudo-inspirational article on Facebook shared by one of your insufferable relatives, then you should know that, as millennials, we are incapable of meeting the exceptional standards set by our predecessors — especially when it comes to maintaining successful relationships.
According to older generations, we have forsaken the institution of marriage entirely and are generally terrible at dating. The clichés surrounding our selfish, lazy and indecisive attitudes are endless, as is our apparent thirst for new sources of emotional stimulation. Instead of degrading the validity of this argument and exposing it for the hogwash that it is, let’s ask ourselves why we read them in the first place.
Society has always valued one particular kind of relationship over all others. Records of romantic gestures and expressions of love have existed from the beginning of time, so obviously this is a conventional phenomenon that continues to interest us. After all these years, the fact that we still desire an amorous bond with another human being is interesting. But by expecting us to continue with these preset tropes, our willingness — or unwillingness — to play into them is given way too much importance. To not be interested in the concept of love or dating in general is to risk becoming a social pariah, unwanted and alone.
Media and pop culture have done a good job propagating this idea of “love” and it is now considered mankind’s strongest capability. How do you humanize a fast-talking, badass female protagonist? Make her fall in love with a “nice” guy in an H&M polo shirt. How do you write a song about your love for music and appeal to a broad audience? Easy, personify your piano and let them think you’re singing about a love interest. With the invasion of an advanced alien species what can we use as our strongest defense? Our ability to see past their hard exterior and to love, of course.
Some people may seek comfort in this concept for whatever reason, but for others, it is incomprehensible. I am here to tell you that not wanting to be in love with another human being does not, in fact, make you lazy or boring. You do not have to wait for some version of a manic pixie dream girl to save you from this meaningless, love-less existence and, contrary to popular belief, we are capable of hosting a wide range of other emotions and thought processes.
While I am happy for everyone in a healthy, supportive relationship, achieving the status “taken” is not a sign of success. The most we can do is let people make their own decisions without placing our ideals onto them. For me, this means not judging my friend for “falling in love” and planning a life with the boy she met on OKCupid. Nobody is obligated to prove their happiness and justify their relationship status to anybody else. In terms of progress, I hope there comes a time when Facebook accurately represents my relationship status: “chillin’ like a villain.”