Viewpoint: Independence, friendships enhanced my BU experience

Ring By Spring embraced by some, dismissed by others

Ring by spring. It’s a phrase that’s all the rage on Baylor campus. Or Ring by Sing, if you are feeling ambitious.

When I started at Baylor, it was a hallowed ideal freshman year. I just knew I would meet my soulmate during my time here at Baylor and a huge, fluffy, tulle-infested white and teal wedding would ensue.

It was the ideal way to approach marriage. How convenient to find someone with a similar background and similar values. But here I am. A senior, who is very single, and I am well on my way out Baylor’s door.

So how do I feel now, with three years under my belt and a future before me that isn’t quite the one I envisioned? Totally different, that’s for sure.

I’m not some bitter girl who has never had a relationship, either. After ending a relationship that lasted almost all of my college career, I realized the benefit of not rushing into anything.

In fact, thinking back on my dating history, I see how many mistakes could have been made. I thought I was going to marry a boy when I was 16. (They are still boys at 16.) He obviously wasn’t the one.

I thought I was going to marry a different guy at 18. We even came to Baylor together. He was the high school sweetheart and I was putty in his hands. It was a mess, and eventually we both came to our senses.

Then came college boyfriend. I thought I found The One, which I am now convinced is a mythical concept. Looking back, I don’t even recognize myself.

The 19-year-old version of me is light-years away from where I am at 21, and eventually that’s why this relationship wasn’t right.

I used to be so convinced that I would be one of the ones heading into the real world with someone by my side. I just have come to realize that I have so many things to do before I am ready to be married.

And the even more important realization that I have come to is that it’s OK to not be ready.

In my past year of being single, and it has been an entire year, I can’t begin to describe how much I’ve grown and learned. I have come to rely heavily on an amazing group of friends and I’ve come to rely on myself.

The past year may be the most educational year I’ve ever had. I’ve become so independent and that is something I never would have been able to do in any of my past codependent relationships.

The whole “ring by spring” concept may be right for some and that is great. Have at it.

But if I had taken the opportunity to follow that path because I was scared to be single or scared of being independent, I would have missed out on the happiest year of my life.

So yes, I am a senior. No, I am not getting married anytime soon. It isn’t for everyone at this time in our lives. I don’t have a relationship, but I have an entire, huge world of possibilities in front of me.

I can go anywhere and do anything and nothing will hold me back. Take a lesson from my book. It is a million times better to be single than to be in a forced relationship. It is far better to be a content single person than it is to be one on the hunt for a ring.

I am still the single one at every bridal shower. My friends still scour their Facebook friends for someone I can date. I go to weddings alone. I buy my own dinner. I do my own thing.

And I am in love with my life.

Jessica Acklen is a senior journalism and political science major from Arlington and is an editor for Focus magazine.