The first time I had heard the concept of “How tos” – with the exact words – was in graduate school. A German professor used it in one of our seminars, in a succinct tone of sarcasm: He was referring to the “American way of life,” in terms of expecting instructions on everything.
I didn’t agree with him back then and can’t say that I do now, as I have a serious problem with overgeneralizations. For indiscriminate conclusions about a person, any person, violate the realities of individual cases. But, I admit, with all the preparations for celebrations of events in the last two months alone, a large number of “how to”-texts had my full attention. I had, of course, noticed such writings before but this year, in particular, I felt a substantial increase in the intensity of generic assumptions. The seasonal events have passed us already. Therefore, I won’t dwell on them here. I will, instead, compile a miniscule “How to”-sampler from online sources on being single – a status I share with numerous others everywhere in the world.
Let me first stop by a “sorry for you”-speech: “There’s nothing wrong with being single but at some point most people reach the point of wanting a relationship (20 Reasons You’re Still Single).”
Holding on – in tight grip – to the given list but still feeling relieved for the crucial confirmation that there is “nothing wrong” with me, I move on only to run into a counter-How-to: “Check out 101 reasons to stay single and see why you should be staying single! (101 reasons to stay single)”
Even scan-reading 101 items is too much of an eye strain for me. Since many more lists of this nature appear on the same page, I look for a shorter instruction and find it: The 50 Best Things about Being Single - I let out a sigh of relief (50 as opposed to 101 is pretty good, isn’t it?)
I keep looking and my small effort is not in vain: 18 Reasons to Love Being Single will do much better than 50. I am, after all, in a time crunch as I must determine whether to stay single or not before I reach the end of these manuals.
It turns out there are far less ambitious how-tos on one’s private life than my first sampler item: Being Single Is Great — And These 11 Someecards Agree or Ten Reasons to Celebrate Being Single or another one that agrees with the magical number ten, 10 Reasons Why Being Single is Awesome.
Still, hoping to shorten the reading I must do to attain the expertise for a decision, I search more and find what I can manage, given my impatience: Top 3 Reasons Why Being Single Is Good For Your Health. I stop at this one. Only 3 reasons? And a promise for health benefits I can’t afford giving up as someone who has been living intimately with a chronic disease?
Once my decision is made thanks to the many “How tos”, my mind goes in to the resting mode. A sneaky urge surfaces somewhere among the aging but still healthy, hence active brain cells. As if to speak face to face to one of the writers of these relationship manuals, I ask: Why 3, 10, 18, 50, 101, and so on and not 1? Namely: Choice?