Monday, August 6, 2012

The "Shoulds"

This summer will likely be remembered as the season of the social calendar. It's typical of summer - living in the Midwest, you know damn good & well once the winter hits, you're going to be hunkered down for the unforeseeable future (or at least until March) and the last thing you're going to want to do is gallivant around town. So in anticipation of hibernation, we jam pack as much crap as we can into those three wonderful months we call Summer. This has been no exception. I have been busier than ever, and have actually taken to strictly managing my calendar in hopes of having at least one night where I can go directly home after work and relax. By no means am I trying to sound all Hollywood or complain about the fact that I know lots of kick ass people with whom I'd like to do some awesome things that take place over the course of a Milwaukee summer. I'm just sayin' after a while, it wears on a girl (and her bank account and sleep accumulation!) 

This past weekend was free of obligations and I was damn near giddy about it. I have absolutely no shame in sharing that I was not only in pajamas but also IN MY BED by 6:30 p.m. glass of wine in hand and armed with the latest rentals from Redbox. The first was Jeff, Who Lives at Home and it was horrible. I gave it my obligatory 30 minutes and I hated every one of them. So not much to report there. The other? Was easily my favorite movie I've seen in YEARS. Like maybe the last 5 years? Seriously, it was that good. Friends with Kids made me laugh, cry and possibly think the writers has weaseled their way into my mind. I don't intend to give much away about the plot - you should really see it for yourself. This is more so what the movie made me think about, while I was watching it and long after. But to give a quick background, it's a group of friends in their 30's, young, wild and free. Then they start having kids and it's told mostly from the point of the two childless members of this group of friends. They observe what happens to their friends with kids.

Here's where the "shoulds" come in. Lately I've been doing quite a bit of observing of my friends and where they're respectively at in their lives. Likely because for one of the first times I can remember, we're no longer all in the same place. When you're in school you might have some friends older and younger in age, but you're all in the same place. Fresh out of college it's possible you had a couple friends who got started on "adulthood" earlier and got married and had babies but they were the outliers. Now, as I find myself in my late 20's I find it's the first time I look around and my friends are scattered all over on the timeline of life. Some married, some pregnant, some with multiple kids. A few just beginning to date, some entering the better part of a decade of dating the same person. And even still, some single like myself. I feel like this age in my life we are under immense pressure of what should happen. And I should make note, I'm not against what should happen. I like the idea of getting married, having kids and raising a family. That's definitely somewhere in my life plan.

However, more often than not I find the happiest of my friends are the ones who are bucking when the should should be done. Those who have stayed true to what they themselves want and need. I have friends who are married and have no intentions of having kids. Aside from frequent inquisitions about when they plan to procreate, they're incredibly happy enjoying each other and the lives they're building for the existing family of two. I have friends who are dating and have been for years and years but are in no rush to get married. Aside from "that girl" asking when he's going to pop the question, they honestly rarely even think about it. Friends who, like myself, are single and have no intentions of parting with their independence. It seems the only time this is a problem is when people start asking questions. When are you going to settle down? Don't you wish he'd propose already? But...you're married, shouldn't you be making babies?  Why do we do this to each other? Shouldn't the timing of these epically large life decisions be based on when we're ready and willing? Not because it's what everyone else is doing. Because it's what society tells us comes next? And realistically, while I think getting married because that's what you do next is a terrible decision, it pales in comparison to how scary it is that once married, people assume the next responsibility is bringing another life into the world before they're ready.

It's not a cut on anyone who's following the "should" timeline, there are plenty of people who are ready and confident in their decisions to follow the "normal" path. I have friends who have done this and are wildly successful at it. I look to them frequently as models of how I want to be when I get there. Conversely, relationships are intense. And they take work and effort. And there's nothing wrong with taking your time. Or saying it's not right. Or deciding you want to live life the way it is for a while before accepting the responsibility of marriage or child rearing. Those are huge life steps and once you've made the step turning back isn't as easy anymore. I think it's important to take the time to build a solid foundation on your own timeline. Life will test the strength of the relationships you create a hundred times over, best have a sturdy footing before that challenge is accepted.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post and something I think about all the time. I hear the shoulds from other people, but am so content with where my life is at I thankfully don't feel the shoulds. Thank you for putting it into words.

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