23 December 2007
I'll settle when I settle
trying to tell myself this...
Ok, for the record, can I just put it out there how much I DESPISE it when people try to impose their personal beliefs on others? Everyone has his or her own personal path that will be followed in his or her own time. Forget the boss who tells you to change your personality to conform to the masses; forget the dating guides that give you one step-by-step plan to "snag" a man; forget those well-meaning friends who instruct instead of just listening and being supportive; and forget those religious zealots who approach you in bookstores or on street corners and dare to tell you what your path in life will be because you have not "accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior." Note to these people: the world is full of an infinite variety of types, lifestyles, and faiths, so who are you to judge which one path is the correct path?
Let me explain what provoked this paroxysm. It all started with synagogue. (As quoted from Samantha Who?, "It usually does..."). My father was in town for the past couple of days and I agreed to go with him to synagogue this morning and stay through lunch. My dad is far more religious than I am, and so he chose to go to an Orthodox synagogue, which of course I was fine with even though I rarely go to synagogue on my own and find the Orthodox culture to be quite foreign. So we're sitting at a table with two couples at lunch, one newlyweds and one a middle-aged couple, and of course the attention turns to me, the only single person at the table. "Are you seeing anyone???" My father chooses this moment to play up his religiosity (he often does this when he's surrounded by Orthodox folks) and quips, "No, she's single, so you need to find her a nice guy so that she can get married soon! Ha, ha, ha." Of course they all join in the joke, while I sit there stupified. I then am privy to an assault of [ridiculous] statements including, but not restricted to, the following:
"Oh, you're only 23? I don't know what your dad is talking about. You don't to worry until you're 25!"
"You need to get married young because that's what God wants."
"These people who wait until their 30s are ridiculous. You have to get married in your 20s otherwise you don't have enough energy to run after the kids."
"You gotta make them wait for marriage. You can't give anything before marriage [aka sex or living together] otherwise they have nothing to look forward to."
First of all, I love how all of this is directed at a woman, while men are encouraged to play the field and then settle down. Secondly, there is no room for personality differences! What if you have no idea who you are (um, hello? Yeah, that's me) and don't think that you should ally yourself to someone for life when you yourself are a mystery? What about focusing on self-discovery? And what about being discerning in your search for a companion? I'm not expecting perfection-- but I am not going to even give a chance to a guy I don't feel an initial spark for, and I would never settle down with someone I don't already know very well and feel absolutely sure of. Thirdly, I really think there is a lot of merit in living with someone before you're married, and to each her own! And finally, who are you to tell me what God wants, and where are you getting your statistics about child-rearing? I would rather have a successful marriage later than a failed marriage now, and I don't think I'm capable of success until I work some things out in my own life.
Worst of all, even though I have these strong convictions, I still walked out of this lunch feeling like a complete failure and an old maid. I actually cried! Ok, did feminism never happen? Did we revert to Jane Austen's time or the musical L'il Abner? You know, "Seventeen last spring, still without a ring"? Are we going to be having a quilting bee next week?I'm finding my own way, and I will thank you not to judge me by your arbitrary standards. Whatever you do with your life is fine, but I've got more than I can handle with my own messy, thrilling, up-and-down life. I don't need to add a permanent mate into that disaster. In the meantime, I'm truly trying to channel the wisdom of, um, Eloise, and suggest that I was RAWTHER upset by today and RAWTHER than worry about this, I'd like to focus on little enjoyable things. Like hot cider, mittens, and (Eloise's favorite) hats. And a not-right husband does not make a very good hat.