‘Single With Confidence’ Students Talk About Self-Love, Singleness, Intimacy and Growth

“You might lose more guys than you keep, but you’ll never lose yourself.”

Senior broadcast journalist Hunter Gadwell’s life mantra is, “I don’t know much, but I know a little.”

Gadwell uses this phrase to kick off her TikTok videos, where she gives boy advice to other single girls in college. Since May, she has acquired over 426,000 likes for her videos and has become known for her empowering posts.

“I had a few weeks where I was just doing my thing, going over the moves, and being like, ‘You know what, I’ve learned a lot of lessons this year,'” Gadwell said. “I know what it’s like to have your happiness controlled by boys and I know the negative effect it has on your self-esteem. I don’t want other girls going through that. So if I I can create content that promotes self-love, sets boundaries, and socializes, that, for me, fulfills my purpose.

Gadwell said she has never had a serious relationship, which often surprises people due to the content she produces. She has experience in dating and casual relationships, but she’s never found anyone she’d want to have a committed relationship with.

“I was never someone who had casual sex,” Gadwell said. “Alright if you want to do it, as long as it fits your relationship, your sexuality and you’re safe, but I’m more of an emotional person, so it never served me to do that.”

Gadwell said she can enjoy being physical in other ways, like a drunken kiss at the bar. Overall, however, she had made up her mind to be single until she met someone she didn’t want to be single for.

This dating mentality is something Gadwell has become into. When she came to MSU, she said she was more naive.

“I was really like, ‘I’m going to meet my soul mate, we’re going to love bumping into each other at the library, dropping books, looking into each other’s eyes, this is going to be my person, this is going to be my husband,'” Gadwell said declared. “And then I hung out with a few guys in my freshman year and realized, ‘Oh, it’s not. “”

Since her freshman year, Gadwell said she’s become more down-to-earth and protective of her heart. The college hookup culture, at MSU in particular, she said, can be very damaging to people, especially women, if they don’t stand up for themselves.

Gadwell’s solution? To be “single with confidence”. Lots of people are single, she says, but few people like it.

“A lot of people go into college expecting it to be the best four years of their life and giving them something different and new and good that high school didn’t give them,” said Gadwell. “For a lot of people, it’s having a relationship, maybe having sex. So when those things don’t happen, you feel like you’re failing. And so being single could be a good thing, but because of those factors, people have a negative connotation with it. And I want to change all that, because I think there’s great power in being single.

Gadwell said a big part of being single is realizing that a relationship is just a small part of life. She encourages people to be aware of how much they talk about boys or relationships in general with their friends.

“I like to talk about boys, like my friends and I talk about boys all the time, you know, it’s a bonding experience,” Gadwell said. “But if that’s the only thing you talk about, you start to think that’s the only thing that matters in your life… Guys are just a slice of the pie in your life, and if you don’t have a boyfriend, it’s not the end of the world, because you live a very complete and all-encompassing life.”

Gadwell also encourages women to set boundaries. It’s something she’s passionate about, as she says she often sees women being hurt by men who only want to have sex with them, when they wanted a relationship.

“It can be avoided if, from the start, you’re honest about what you want and communicate it,” Gadwell said. And when you do that, you might lose more guys than you keep, but you’re never going to lose yourself. And I think at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”

Overall, Gadwell hopes the women who watch her videos are empowered by them, and the men who watch her videos realize that their actions affect women, that their words carry weight.

“It’s a community effort; I feel like it’s a mass movement,” Gadwell said. “I hope my videos help the girls a bit and enough people will come together and start demanding respect. And maybe that will make a little change.

“The only person you know you’ll have for the rest of your life is yourself. You’re stuck with yourself whether you like it or not, you might as well learn to to like.”

Occasionally, senior journalism Anna Traver can be found sitting alone at the bar of a Texas Roadhouse. She orders herself a margarita and a steak dinner and has a great time, all by herself. She might get the stares of people around her or the pity of those who think she got stung on a date, but she didn’t get stung. She simply makes an appointment.

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“I know it’s considered a little weird, but I think learning to be alone is very, very important,” Traver said. “And you hear that so much, but it’s so true. Because really the only person you know you will have for the rest of your life is yourself. Whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with yourself, so you might as well learn to love it.

Traver didn’t always have that mindset. Before she could date herself, she had both positive and negative experiences with relationships. She said that one of her first relationships was a very unhealthy and toxic situation.

“I wanted him to love me so much,” Traver said. “So when he gave me these little little doses of reassurance and validation and attention, I would take them and run with them. It was like a kind of drug… He told me he loved me and didn’t speak to me for a week.

Traver said that relationship caused him trust issues. After they broke up, it became hard for her to believe what the men told her. This caused insecurities in herself later and in other relationships. In her next relationship, she experienced a similar pattern of unsanitary conditions.

In the past, Traver has said she would describe herself as a “crazy boy.” Because she didn’t get much male attention in high school, coming to college and being surrounded by so much stuff consumed her. This year, however, she took a break from her previous romantic experiences and learned to appreciate being single.

“Being single allows you to really find yourself and focus on yourself,” Traver said. “It’s so cliché and it’s so oversaid, but there’s a lot of value in focusing on yourself. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world.

Traver said she was jealous of people in long-term relationships, but changed her mind and now thinks they should be jealous of her. She likes having the opportunity to go out on dates and meet different types of people to find out what she likes and dislikes. College, she said, is a time for her to figure out what she wants before entering the “scary real world”.

“My expectations, if any, are more to relax, to let life do its thing, to let time take its course,” Traver said. “And if it’s meant to be, it will be. I really believe that…just reminding myself that it’s a growing season and you should take advantage of it.

So for now, Traver will continue to date, even if others think it’s weird.

“I struggled with myself for so long. I hated it,” Traver said. “And I still struggle with it… But just learning to be okay with myself and kind of learning to enjoy it… It’s a huge lesson that comes from being single.”

“Everyone says, ‘The 20s is the time to find you’ and I really feel like I’m living that. out.”

Olivia Antal, responsible for international relations, is not in a relationship at the moment and does not want to be one either. As she enters the next phase of her life, she is happy that she doesn’t have to worry about making room for someone else’s plans.

“I think personally I’m at a stage where I’m very comfortable being single, especially as a senior in college,” Antal said. “It’s nice to be single and know that I can do anything after college and don’t really have to think about anyone else in a serious situation like this.”

If Antal is single right now, it hasn’t always been the case. During her sophomore year of college, when all MSU classes were online, she began her first long-term relationship. Although dating during COVID-19 presented challenges, things changed more after school returned to normal, which ultimately led to her breaking up.

“College kids already have so much to do and to add a serious relationship to that…that’s something you really have to work on and that’s a whole other responsibility,” Antal said.

Antal enjoys the freedom that comes with being single. She said that while she was in a relationship, she would consider studying abroad, but the thought of leaving him behind was something that was holding her back.

Antal isn’t actively looking for a partner at the moment, but she doesn’t think it’s a bad thing to be in a serious or light relationship while in college.

“I think your life is going to change a lot after college and it would be crucial to seriously consider the relationship,” Antal said. “But I also think a lot of people meet as their life partners in college.”

Antal said dating at MSU and college, in general, is interesting in the sense that it’s centered around bars and parties. This gets a lot of people, she says, talking about dating as a networking event and just being comfortable talking to people.

It takes a lot of trust, Antal said, to be able to meet someone in those kinds of environments.

Before her serious relationship, Antal said she had a long time to become confident and learn who she was. During the quarantine, she did a lot of growth and development and was able to maintain it.

“I think maybe last year I would have been like, ‘Oh, like it would be nice (to be in a relationship),'” Antal said. “But now, especially where I am, applying to masters programs around the world and things like that, it’s really nice not having this other thing to think about. Everyone says, ‘The 20s , it’s time to find each other” and I really feel like I’m living it.”

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