Margaret Wente Just Wants You to Be Happy (because she is)

“If you’re only 26, you won’t believe me. But you’ll see.”

There I was on Saturday morning in my local coffee shop happily reading the newspaper when it happened. As is my habit, I hit the style section first (I think I read something about boots). Then I opened up the “focus” section and that’s where I saw it: Margaret Wente’s latest article, The Awful Truth About Being Single.

For those of you who don’t read The Globe and Mail, the better of Canada’s two national newspapers, Margaret Wente gets paid to write authoritatively on topics about which she knows very little. Actually, I’m slightly envious; I do it for free… and with pleasure (but money would be a nice bonus).

Not single

I’m in a long standing relationship with fun and freedom

The article begins with a reimagining of Mary Tyler Moore’s lifestyle in a contemporary context; she’s now a condo-dwelling take-out-munching Facebook-cruising mini-dog-owning anxious 35 year-old woman. Well, Margaret Wente, I’ve never seen an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (I’m too YOUNG!), but it is my understanding that it was a ground-breaking portrayal of a happy and independent career woman that inspired many 1970s women to follow their dreams. I suppose it’s clever, 40 years later, to paint a portrait of this sort of benignly pathetic woman who (gasp!) doesn’t even own a dining room table because she prefers to eat out with its unspoken undercurrent of “Feminism, where did it all go wrong?”, but it frankly lacks poignancy for any of us actually living that lifestyle.

Yes, Margaret, I live by myself, not in a condo but in an apartment, I do own a pet (though she would scratch my face off if I tried putting booties on her), I do spend much of my disposable income on trips and clothes, and, while I do own a dining table, it’s quite ugly and unsuitably small for dinner parties. And I’m at that other age (not 26).

But I’m here to tell you, oh single woman of 26, that it’s not all tears and cold pad thai a decade into it!

Right, the so-called “awful truth” about being single, according to Margaret Wente, is this: it’s incredibly lonely. Well, SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Yes, at times, I get lonely. I think we all do. Now, I’ve never stayed with the wrong person for any significant period of time, but it is my understanding from people who have that there’s nothing quite as lonely as feeling alone with someone else. Being alone doesn’t mean you’re not surrounded by supportive friends and family, and being in a couple doesn’t mean you’re never visited by the specter of loneliness.

“The big thing people get wrong about being single is to imagine that singlehood allows you to define and perfect yourself, and that discovering who you really are is the most important task there is.” Ok, I agree with about 40% of this, but only because I find the pursuit of perfection to be futile. Try as we might to improve ourselves, we’re all flawed and, hopefully, we all keep growing and learning until the day we die.

The 20-something girls of Girls, making the same bad choices you made

The 20-something girls of Girls, making the same bad choices you made

The reason being single at 26 is different from being single at 36, in my opinion, is that most people are too dumb about life at 26 to be in a healthy relationship. I have friends who met their mate young and made it work, and I applaud them! I can’t even imagine having to go through all the false starts and upheaval of my 20s while trying to take someone else’s well-being into account. More importantly though, had the right person come along back then, I wouldn’t have recognised him as such because I still didn’t know what my values were. Making all kinds of mistakes and encountering strange varieties of men allowed me to discover what was most important to me.

The most depressing thing about Wente’s opinion piece is that there’s no passion in it! I’m sorry that being single wasn’t as exciting as she thought it should be. On my end, pursuing education, career changes, setting goals, cross-country moves, and meeting people, both horrid and wonderful, have kept things interesting.

And the 30s, for me, are a million times better than my 20s were. I feel I’ve finally got the basics down! And once you’re no longer struggling in your career and are not feeling insecure about how you look or how you should act, that’s when life really opens up, single or not. So no, I’m not at home eating udon noodles alone wondering where all the single men are. This is when the meaningful sh*t happens y’all — when you’re ready for it!

Ironically, she ends the piece by saying how wonderful it is to share your life with someone, how the richness of married life makes the independent life seem lame. I’m guessing this column is not actually aimed at young single women, after all. I’m guessing this is written for people just like her so that they can have their life choices validated and rest assured that other people are, in fact, not having more fun that they are.

Hi, I wanna date you and never break up

Hi, I wanna date you and never break up

To praise married life over single life, in my opinion, is totally pointless. Why? Because you can’t get there without first being here. Life is a journey. And it’s full of surprises!!! Follow your passion, follow your heart, learn to recognise the essential. That is all.

Comments

  1. I agree 100% with you! Only you know what makes you happy and even though you might want to be with a worthy guy, you ain’t going to get in a relationship if it isn’t right. You need to make sure that a relationship is the right thing for you. If and when it is, you’ll be ready. No one needs to tell you that your life is not fulfilled enough—I get that enough times when people crank out the “children” question.

  2. Ugh – Margaret Wente is so deeply wrong on so many issues. Thanks for this upbeat yet critical response.

    • Thanks Sherwin! I agree, I keep thinking I should self-censor and avoid her column but then it calls out to me with provocative titles…

      • I know, right! Kudos to Wente’s editor/headline-writer. But do you ever feel a little queezy about linking to her articles? Is Wente getting, for example, more page views and a better page rank because of your links? And, even though the Globe and Mail is better than the National Post, is it that much better? No need to actually answer these big questions, although I’m for sure curious if you have views on these.

        • Heh, I won’t comment on whether the Globe is that much better than the NP cause sh*t could get political and it is my goal to avoid all things political in this blog. I live in Ottawa, I need a break!
          As to linking to Wente’s articles, maybe if I had a jazillion followers, I’d have to seriously ponder that question. For now, I’m sure I really don’t affect her ranking by linking to her. Though I do like to imagine that she Googled herself and landed on my blog. 😀

Trackbacks

  1. […] argument. She basically rehashes the same stuff  about marriage that I responded to in a post in January; therefore, I won’t go into THAT […]

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