This article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 6, 2017.
I have always felt very drawn toward “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. The book, the movie adaptations (including “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”), the sequel adaptations (like “Death Comes to Pemberley”) and even The Lizzie Bennet Diaries own a special place in my heart. I used to think it was because I loved period movies, like “Gone With the Wind,” “Little Women” and “Mansfield Park.” But, no, I’ve discovered through many of the adaptations, that my true love lies with none other than Elizabeth Bennet.
It seems that in today’s world, everyone is in a rush to be in a relationship. Everyone seems to be in a rush to be with someone, settle down and stay with that one person forever. If you ask me, it sounds a little too good to be true. The relationships our parents and grandparents once had aren’t readily available like they used to be. Young people today are often baffled by how many options there are in modern dating, and most feel opposed to settling down. Modern dating is large loop of dissatisfaction it seems.
I’m 20 years old, a junior in college and I have never been in a relationship. I’ve never even come close to being in a relationship. At times, it’s been frustrating. I’ve wondered if there’s something wrong with me, or if I’m in the wrong place or some similar. I’ve often wondered if perhaps my time is running out, since most of my friends have found someone they like so much that they’ve been with them for several years now.
Though it can be frustrating and annoying to be in my boat, I feel almost more comfortable with it. It’s not that I don’t want to be in a relationship, it’s just that I know looking for one is a wild goose chase in today’s world. Dating apps like Plenty of Fish and Tinder either draw in creeps and perverts or guys who don’t want to date, only hook-up. Trying to meet people through blind dates or friends often follows a similar pattern.
It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’ve decided to stop looking for love altogether. It’s not that I’ve given up on it, or anything, but I just think that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, one way or another. I think that’s why I identify so strongly with Lizzie Bennet; she had a similar opinion about marriage and settling down.
Though the plot of every “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation includes Mrs. Bennet attempting to marry off her girls to rich gentleman, every version also includes the headstrong Lizzie who refuses to settle for just any man. In “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” she has a conversation with Charlotte at the ball where Lizzie says, “I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring.” Charlotte replies and laughs, “For the right man, you would,” and Lizzie replies, “The right man wouldn’t ask me to.” I feel as though this theme runs throughout all the “Pride and Prejudice” adaptations and also my life.
I am interested in many things. I have many passions that fall in a great many of areas. I like writing, literature and publishing and editing, and although this is the preferred field of study, it may not be the one I embark in after graduation. I am also interested in stage managing and the technical side of theatre, and if perhaps there are no jobs in either of those things, I’d say I’m pretty well-versed in the area of event planning, as well.
I honestly think that throwing a boyfriend into the mess of my life, which includes all of these passions, my ambition to work with people and the struggles I endure with my mental illness, would be a little bit crazy. Maybe the Universe is waiting to hand me ‘the one.’ Or maybe, the Universe is attempting to wait until things cool down before I can and have time to meet any ‘one.’ Either way, I’m completely fine with waiting.
I’m in no rush to date, meet people or settle down. I’m 20. I have the rest of my twenties and maybe even some of my thirties to worry about those things. Meeting a man is at the bottom of my priorities list. I want to graduate college with a degree I want to pursue, find a job in one of the areas I’d like to pursue and settle down in an apartment of my own with a sense of some kind of stability.
If you’re unaware of the “Pride and Prejudice” book or any of its adaptations, you should know there are really three important characters in the Bennet family that are relevant to the big-picture.
There’s Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet, who is in no rush to settle down and is willing to wait for the ‘right’ man, rather than settling down in a marriage where no love is present, is the main character. There is also her older sister Jane, is a beautiful woman, not otherwise engaged, who knows the importance of love in a relationship but also realizes the value of and need for wealth in her time period.
Finally, there is Lydia, their younger sister, who loves to chase the soldiers around town, loves flirting and adores the idea of being someone’s wife. Her naivety is something that sets the family back more than she can comprehend.
I don’t really care about wealth in today’s age; I’ve always had to hustle and grind to get what I want in this world, and I would rather someone who has had a similar upbringing rather than someone way more privileged than me, so that crosses Jane off the list. I feel as though there aren’t many Jane-like people in today’s society, that more people are ready to settle down rather than wait and more people are looking at class differences to marry advantageously rather than not.
So that leaves Lizzie and Lydia. In a world of Lydia Bennets, I am an Elizabeth Bennet, and proudly, at that. I’m in no rush to meet a man and I am in less of a rush to marry and settle down. I could never be a trophy wife; I work too much and I don’t think that’s the sort of thing I would want to or think that I could ‘shut off’ per se.
I want to thank Jane Austen, Seth Grahame Smith, Hank Green and Bernie Su for creating such relatable Elizabeth Bennets. Without these characters, I would feel lost in the romantic world, not knowing quite what my options were. The “Pride and Prejudice” universe has always offered me comfort that my ‘Mr. Darcy’ is still out there. And maybe, just maybe, he’s waiting for me too.