On Oct. 23, Taylor Swift released her newest album, “Red.” Now, I usually do my best to avoid T. Swift, but the album showed up on my desk and got me thinking.
The majority of Swift’s songs carry the same message: When she has a boyfriend, life is good. But if there’s any unrequited love, or, heaven forbid, she’s dumped, she’s more angsty than Harry Potter in “The Order of the Phoenix.” As she fights through her anger for a guy who doesn’t see her the way she sees herself, she makes it her goal to publicly harass her exes in her song lyrics, which she admitted in her Saturday Night Live monologue in November 2009.
Now, I’m not naive; I know Swift is not the only offender of this stereotype. In all types of media you can find the girl who works hard to tear down the progress women have made to make themselves equal to men. We have Bella Swan, who refuses to live life because her boyfriend dumped her. She’s a character who would rather die than live without someone who rejected her. That’s not healthy; yet, it’s the fairy tale romance so many women dream of having. But thinking along these lines does not usually end in “happily ever after.”
This isn’t a just a problem with women in pop culture either. We can talk about Jay Gatsby, who lived his life believing his happiness relied on Daisy’s love. And we all know how well that worked out. In “Parks and Recreation” (the greatest show on air), Chris Traeger literally cannot cope unless he knows he is loved. In “500 Days of Summer,” Tom is stuck in the mindset that just because he loves Summer, she will love him back, despite her being incredibly upfront about her intentions.
These characters’ attitudes and ideas are exaggerated for dramatic effect, but their mindset, which is only acceptable in fiction, has been given a prominent place in reality.
Especially in the LDS culture and at BYU, where marriage is the utmost priority, it seems as if “You Belong with Me” is the anthem for all the girls hoping to snag their perfect RM. But that mindset is getting out of hand.
I had a close friend who, when single, would lie in her apartment, complaining about how her crush was dating another girl. Instead of living life and trying to meet new people, she would waste her time wallowing and hoping he would one day magically notice her, leave his girlfriend and they would be together forever. This went on for months.
This mindset is damaging; this lifestyle does not leave any room for progression or self development.
It’s the phenomenon that somebody who can’t be happy while single and independent will magically be happier in a relationship. While the attention helps for a while, the same problems you have alone will only be magnified once you get married. Ask any married friend you have — marriage is difficult work.
No matter where you are, it’s important to be happy in the present.
You’re not a failure if you don’t get married in college. Your years at college are four years designed for figuring out who you are. For most people, this is an individual process. We need to stop letting how close we are to marriage determine our outlook on life.