In the second part of her series, Charlotte Jiggins discusses the next aspect of her life as a single person. Despite media outlets preaching the empowering side of a single life, learning to love yourself without the comfort of a partner loving you can be hard. Here, Charlotte discusses the experience that threatened her ability to develop physical and sexual self-worth for herself, and the importance of not measuring the success of your single life against hook-ups and flings.
Heard the phrase ‘single ready to mingle’? Well, what if I was to tell you that I’m single, and actually don’t always really like to mingle. Wow, sounds radical. It’s so easy when you’re single to feel like the only way to feel good about yourself is to ‘mingle’ with others. I, for one, find myself constantly asking people what’s wrong with me when things go wrong with guys. Well, there is nothing wrong with you, I promise.
So here’s my second lesson: give yourself a bit of self-love.
For the past two summers, I’ve worked as a camp counselor in America, and last summer I had a summer fling. (I know, how exciting - ME having a summer fling). But it ended up very badly.
It was pretty chilled to start with: casual hook ups and hanging out after work. Until one day, mid-way through the summer, it was my time of the month and we went to hang out. After he made ‘the move’, I said that I couldn't and that I just wanted to sit and chat. That was met with massive frustration and I felt rubbish, like I had done something wrong, to the point that the next day, I found myself apologising to him. To which he said, ‘it’s okay, don’t worry’, and that was that.
You may be thinking that that’s not so bad, but the climax to the story goes like this. At the last summer party, he didn’t talk to me all evening. Not one word, like he had some incapacity to speak all of a sudden. I went to bed quite early and he woke me up a couple of hours later. We went downstairs and he tried to hook up with me, to which I said, ‘No, you can’t do that, you haven’t spoken to me all evening and now expect to hook up with me.’ I know - props to me for being so empowered. But that didn’t last long. His responses included: ‘it could be our last time’; ‘don’t be like that’; ‘come on, be fun’... and we hooked up. It’s safe to say that I’ve never regretted something so much in my life.
For me, this summer fling was pretty defining and yet I haven’t told many people about it because I was embarrassed. It went from being really fun to something which made me feel so s**t about myself, and yet I didn’t stop it. I felt that all I was good for as a person was sex, and I thought it was all I deserved. I felt that the only way to feel self-worth was if someone would drunkenly hook up with me. There are countless other times when I’ve felt that, because I’m single, I have to settle for hooking up with people who only see me for my body rather than my brains or what I actually have to say. If this was an art movement, I think I would describe it as the ‘silence period’ – because I felt silenced. You might be thinking that sounds pretty extreme - but that’s how I felt.
Well, here’s the positive coming out of it: if you’re single, make sure you always give yourself a bit of self-love. Don’t settle for something because that’s all you think you’re worth. You deserve the whole world and you’re great! Recently, I have become pretty done with feeling like there’s something wrong with me when actually I know there isn’t. I feel so happy with my body, I’m clever, and I’m surrounded by the most amazing people all the time. That’s awesome and I feel lucky. Trust me when I say I know, at times, you can feel like you’re the common denominator in all the bad experiences you have had. But, actually, you’re awesome - it’s just unpleasant people who sometimes come your way. Remember to practice self-love, because you’re awesome.