Just a FEW of many examples:
Don't get me wrong...I love Disney and Pixar films. I still laugh at Charlotte and watch Sex and the City reruns. And yes, I teared up when Jerry interrupted the divorced women's group meeting.
But here's the problem: Women are not only taught that if we do not find our Prince Charming, the world will come to an end, and if we do, in the form of Tom Cruise, he will complete our very being...but we buy into this unattainable ideal. This becomes the new reality. So what happens if you don't live up to these constructed expectations?
Here's the shocking truth...continue to breath normally and brace yourselves:
I'm fast approaching 40. I've never been engaged or married. I have no children. I received my Ph.D. in 2007 and have been happily employed as an Instructor at a private university for the past five years. I have been in public places and asked the following questions:
Are you a lesbian?
Have you given up on getting married?
A woman got her Ph.D.?
Don't you want kids? You better hurry.
You may be surprised (or not) by some of these, but this has become a normal routine for me. And you know what? The only thing about it that really and truly bothers me is that this is 2012, and it is still seen as something out of the norm. I could sit there and give my story about how when my friends were getting married, I was dealing with the death of my father. I could say that during my late 20's and early 30's I was focusing on my career so I could support myself. I could explain that I chose the wrong men as a result of some violent behaviors I witnessed when I was younger. But then I'm giving excuses for something I shouldn't have to. I'm giving in to justifying why I'm at the place that I am (and even hesitated writing those previous sentences).
So what's the point? The point is that this place is amazing. I have a job I love and a house in a great neighborhood near an old high school friend. I've traveled the world, I've published a book of poems, and I've written a play (still working on getting the whole piece staged, but one thing at a time). And in this space, I did meet someone. But he doesn't "complete me." He enhances the woman I've become. He loves and respects me for who I am...and he listens to me talk about issues such as these and grins. (And if we do tie the knot, I'll be in a much better place for that than when I was 20 years ago).
But most importantly, I've come into my own.
My reason for writing all of this is that I want younger women to know that it's okay to be single by the time you're 40. It's okay not to have children. Sometimes life leads us down different paths, but that does not mean that it should be seen as something "abnormal." Will it feel like you are the only one in that position sometimes? Sure. But I'm here to tell you from experience that you're not.
So, pop in your fairy tales, watch Sex and the City reruns, or curl up with Bridget Jones' Diary with some popcorn. But when you're done, don't forget that these stories aren't the reality. Your life is the reality. Make the best of it.