Despite the fact that most teachers I know lean left on the political spectrum, education is a very conservative profession. This statement seems obvious; after all, teachers are supposed to be role models for students, so everything we do is under scrutiny from students, parents (even for us college professors), and the general public. But it’s interesting to observe.
I recently went down to Tampa, Florida to grade Advanced Placement examinations for the College Board. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, high school students take them through the College Board and can earn college credit if they attain a certain score. So why am I talking about this in a blog related to singlehood?
I didn’t take a formal sample, but I’d say about 98% of the people I met at the AP reading were wearing rings on the index fingers of their left hands, and yes, the females had diamonds. I couldn’t walk fifty feet without hearing “my kids,” “my husband,” “my wife,” etc. I’m well aware that as singles, we’re minorities, but in the past few years, I’ve surrounded myself with people who tend to think like me, as is human nature.
While I have some friends I’ve seen every year who know and appear to respect my work in Singles Studies, it’s still hard not to feel like a minority in this more conventional crowd. And I understand why teachers would logically be drawn to conventional lifestyles. Most teachers and professors I know were the types of people that followed all the “rules” and social norms in school and in life (and of course, we tend to enforce those things in our classrooms), so it would make sense they would want more conventional escalator-style relationships and lifestyles. Here’s where being a singleton does have its advantages when traveling a new city.
Each year, I like to take a solo trek on the city’s free trolley from downtown Tampa to Ybor City, a neighborhood known for its classy ancient Spanish architecture and copious amount of cigar shops. Some people I talk to (mostly married folks) actually say they’re afraid to venture out alone (or they stay in their hotel rooms the entire time) because they’ve never done it before without a person. I can understand the security issues females face in that regard, but as someone’s who’s always been somewhat of a loner (like it’s a bad thing?) and has always been comfortable doing things solo, I generally can’t fathom people’s fears of doing things alone.
I was inspired by someone to take part in a “Professional Night,” where we had the opportunity to share stories about things we learned or things we taught. Since the first chapter of my book, How to be a Happy Bachelor, is all about how I learned to become a happy singleton. I was nervous about it at first, as I knew I’d be facing an audience that’s well, not single-at-heart. But, one thing I’ve learned is that if you’re scared of something, the best thing to do is run toward it rather than run away from it (I also had a little encouragement from my fellow singleton Heather through text).
When I did get up to read it, it got some appreciative laughs, especially when I mentioned how I like to subvert the “crazy cat lady” stereotype by constantly posting pics of my cat/son Chester. When I mentioned microaggressions such as “you don’t even have a cat?”, I got a couple of “ewww”s, which appeared to be supportive of my message.
The next day, I talked to a fellow reader, Chris, who’d attended my reading; he told me about a friend of his who teaches elementary school. His female colleagues repeatedly taunt, “When are you gonna get a girlfriend?” The dude responds, “When you get our nose out of my business.” I suggested his friend say, “Whenever you get divorced.” He laughed pretty hard.
The following day, Chris was talking to another guy, Matt; I gave Chris my card to give to my friend, and Matt said, “Oh, you’re the happy bachelor!” Inference: I’d been talked about. “You’re the guy who’s doing all that traveling!”
“Oh no,” Chris said. “That’s another friend of mine.”
Many of us do like to travel. And why shouldn’t we? There’s a big world out there, and we’re the badasses who don’t wait for anybody to join us.
If I go back next year, I’ll read more about my work in singlehood. And the next year. And the next. And I’ll keep spreading that message until the world accepts singledom. Granted, that probably will happen after I’ve passed on, but I can pave the way for future generations.
After all, we’re already on our way.
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My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.