I never thought my life would be like this. Do I have Bad Taste? What’s wrong with me?
Thru the years, my thought of what age to get married varied. My parents had married and popped out 2 kids before they were 30. That was my point of reference. Rather Accelerated, but typical for the 70’s.
Is the definition of success different between a man and woman? My definition of a prosperous life included a family. I always wanted to be a mom. I just didn’t know exactly when that would happen. Maybe my goals would have been different if I was a man.
Up until my Twenties…
In the back of my mind I always knew of the life goals I had to achieve to be successful:
- go to college
- get a good job
- get married
- buy a house
- have kids.
When I graduated college, I couldn’t wait to be independent. I could do whatever I wanted. Pink Hair. Don’t care.
As long as I kept passing my engineering classes and working, all else didn’t matter. I laughed at the thought of getting married and having kids.
Four years later and Step 1 complete.
22 years old. Fresh out of college. No more stress! The days of studying, working, and partying are over. I’ve got an engineering job with a great starting salary, two adorable cats, and a boyfriend. Life is pretty awesome. I’m settled.
With America’s housing bubble to be – I join the rest of the sheep and buy a townhome with virtually no money down.
Step 1, 2 and 4 complete.
The dream of marriage and kids pops into my mind. I don’t really admit to this to any of my friends or boyfriend. He’s still in school and I don’t want to stir the pot. I don’t want to be single and not married.
Time passes by. Two of my best friends from college get married. Pregnancies… then the photos of babies fill my refrigerator door. I find myself at kid birthday parties instead of dance clubs. I’m going to friend’s homes to help make dinner. I’m buying furniture from west elm and learning how to decorate my townhome. I’m happily waiting to start the next chapter of my life.
At 28, my relationship ended with a “I don’t want to marry you” break up. My 20’s out the window. Single and unmarried. Crushed. I distract myself from the pain by diving deep into work. I get promoted and choose to move to Los Angeles. I had spent 10 years in my college home town and felt surrounded by couples and babies. A fresh start. A new me.
Los Angeles. Fun dating. New Friends. New hobbies. Living across the street from the beach. I start exploring solo vacations.
I’m having fun. My 30th birthday comes around and I feel pressure to complete my success list. Am I ready? Don’t want to be unmarried forever.
By 32, I’m living with partner. Work is getting crazier. More travel, more stress. The bridesmaid dresses start stacking up in my closet. 4 to be exact. A little reminder of people passing me by. I don’t want to be part of the single ladies bouquet toss anymore. Of course, I’m happy for my friends. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit a little jealousy. Why can’t I just be settled down already? When can I start my happily ever after?
I’m still trying to balance between work, relationships, friendships, and family. I don’t have time to dedicate to my personal life.
Choosing work over relationships
Then it happens. IMPLOSION. My 5yr relationship fails for various reasons. Somethings are too complicated to explain. We both had our own issues. I can’t understand how I could fail so miserably in my personal life while everywhere else I was always a high achiever. Countless awards and recognition in academia and work, but I can’t figure out my personal life. What gives?
So what do I do? Work more. That’s what I’m good at.
My career thrives, but also brings on new stress. Feeling pressured by my age, I try to find a new relationship so I can hurry up and get married. Being single is difficult. I download some dating apps and try to figure out what I should have learned in my 20’s. My married girlfriends use my dating app to help me choose suitable dates.
And then it starts – that biological clock. That ticking. What about my eggs?? I visit my doctor with questions about my eggs. She tells me that I don’t necessarily need to worry, but if its important enough, I could freeze my eggs but the cost is high. I don’t want to freeze my eggs. Single women issues.
Instead I decide to continue dating so I can get married and pop out kids. No pressure. (insert nervous laugh here)
I thought, if I could dedicate time to a relationship, then I can achieve success in life. I could be just like all my friends. I can have a family.
Before you know it, I put my career on hold and decide to chase the dream of accomplishing marriage and kids.
I stumble and trip. fall hard. I take a good look at marriage and kids and realize I’m not willing to sacrifice myself in order to be successful in society’s eyes. I also never go back to work at my engineering job, but that’s another story.
Conclusions on where I am today
I’m living on an island teaching English and sleeping on a twin bed. My life feels more like I’m in my 20’s versus what I thought I would be like in my 30’s.
With a great therapist, I grasp the idea that success in life shouldn’t be based on that checklist (college, career, marriage, home, kids) I’ve been using my entire life. I tear it up into itty bitty pieces. Working on my self-esteem, I realize that I’ve been too focused on making everyone else happy, I want everyone else to say I’m successful in life. I don’t NEED to get married. I don’t NEED to have kids. I don’t feel guilty anymore for not achieving my goals of getting married and having kids. I don’t need for people to feel sorry for me.
Single Life feels like…
When I see my friends interact with their kids, I feel a ping to my heart. Will I ever get that feeling? The thought of how I would be as a Mom pops in my head… Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I let the feeling pass and tell myself the good parts about being single. I can be lazy. I can sleep in. I can travel…
At a 20-year reunion, would I be proud of myself or embarrassed? Truthfully, it would be a mixture of the two. How do you explain to people that you aren’t married without them judging?
I’m not the only one.
When I read articles of single women in their late 30’s. Strength and empowerment. Proud to not choose marriage. “I don’t want kids or marriage.” Who is experiencing the struggle like me? Yes, I wanted kids and marriage, but it’s ok that I went the opposite direction. I don’t need another person or child to complete myself. Life is full of ups and downs. I’m comfortable. No matter whatever happens next.
What’s the point of all this? Well, hopefully my honesty here helps another single woman with similar thoughts know they aren’t flying solo. Life goes on. Ya know?
Speaking of which…. back to single life. Back to me.