Felt nostalgic on a rainy night, decided to look up the friends I spent my high school years with, seems like 85% are married, 50% of them have younger siblings that are married or engaged, and most of them have at least one kid, if they don’t have a second on the way.
Growing up very fundamental, religious, and home-schooled seemed to indicate that you get married as soon as possible (can’t be having sex out of wedlock – that would present a poor example to the world and we were supposed to be role models). The rumor-mill at church was so bad that people would start surmising that you were “courting” or dating-with-the-intention-of-marriage if they saw one person talking to another person of the opposite gender by themselves after church. I was suspected of such, or rather, I heard from my mother that someone else had asked her if things were headed “that way”.
I have mixed emotions seeing pictures of my old friends following the prescribed path, and evidently loving it. I can’t imagine being pregnant. I can’t imagine getting married in my early twenties. Not to say that my friends didn’t or haven’t gone through what I have as I moved out of my parent’s house, got a full-time job, took night-classes to finish my degree, living on my own or with a boyfriend. I have had time to reflect on who I was “brought up to be” and how I personally want to be and live my life. I have had time to explore life, try different forbidden or generally frowned on activities admonished against the authorities in my life when I was young.
The opinions I had as a teenager are still pretty much the same. I didn’t want to get married young, I didn’t want to have kids (I don’t know if that was a “forever” thing or just a “not for a few years” thought at that time, but that’s not really important). But that doesn’t mean I don’t get an emotional twinge when I see baby pictures of a friend’s baby when we used to sit in classes together, sing in an choir together, and go to each other’s birthday parties. I was Expected to do what they are doing now. I have to keep telling myself that I’m not wrong for not wanting what they have. I’m not guilty of whatever for not having a toddler running around my ankles and my belly pregnant with another one. I’m not sinning if I’m not a stay-at-home mom who greets her husband with a healthy home-made dinner. I am not ashamed I’m using birth control – we all know what that allows and doesn’t allow.
Venting about this helps. I’m starting to realize that the first few years I focused on just living out of the umbrella that was my life – my family and my church. I was just trying to live and prove to myself that I could make it in the world. I stuffed the hurt, the drama, the high-expectations, and the religious oppression down deep. I’m not and have no desire to live the lifestyle that my parents, church, and community tried to get me to swallow for 21 years. I do feel that I’m in a good place in my life, what I’m doing is meaningful, and I am having an impact. Being married with a kid on the way is not the only way to feel like that, and there are other perfectly fine and acceptable ways of living my life – like the way I am.
Photo credit: Noah Slight Foundation
P.S. I’m really excited I figured out how to link for the photo credit – yay me!
P.S.S. I wrote this blog yesterday, but today found a similar post. Here is a link to another blog post by a young woman who thinks and feels the same (although she has the perspective I would have if I still identified as Christian). Nice to know there are others out there like me.