For the past few days I have seen this article 26, Unmarried, and Childless shared up and down my Facebook news feed, tucked ironically in between engagement announcements and photos of infants. I remember reading this article when it was first written late last year and it seems since then every few months one of my fellow generational sisters tells her experience about not being at society’s expected stage of life. Being that I too am at the same stage I have fallen trap to reading every single one of these outcries. I found that their stories usually take one of two point-of-views. Either the girl takes the, “I’m not conforming to societal pressure, I’m single and fabulous” stand, or the, “I’m content with life but I secretly wish I was married with kids”. These are both valid view points and at some point in my mid 20’s I have felt the same way, but reality is, just because we are childless at 26 doesn’t mean we are the only ones getting hassled with aggravating questions.
Our 26 year old, married, with 3 kids, friends are getting asked the same questions- only theirs sounds like, “Don’t you think you had kids too young” or “Remember that time you got a business degree but decided to be a stay at home mom”. Yes, these questions are irritating, unwanted, and ill-advised, but not getting asked those questions is worse than a few minutes of displeasure. Yes, you read that right, not getting asked those questions IS worse than your temporary annoyance. Now you are probably thinking, “Girl, please”, but before you hit the little x on the right side of this tab allow me to explain.
Our loved ones are going to question our decisions regardless of what they may be. So when they ask, “when are you going to start a family” it’s because care about us living a fulfilled and happy life. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, no one is saying that in order to be happy you have to be married with child. This is way more about the action of asking and less about the substance of said question.
You see, when they don’t bother to ask you about your future, that means they believe you have hit your peak or they simply just don’t care what you do with your life. No one wants to waste their time concerned about people who have no potential. If they think your current situation is the best you can do or that you are just complacent – they feel no need to make suggestions. Don’t allow your contentment to reflect an end of your potential, because then people really will give up on you…and that’s the last thing want to have happen. I would hate to think that those who love me don’t see my potential.
Our loved ones’ questions about our future shouldn’t make us feel bad or pressure us. They should inspire us to question ourselves about where we are in life, what’s next, and are we truly happy. The answers may not evolve marriage, children or career, but the questions still need to be asked. Whatever the correct answer is, that’s for you to figure out. When you discover it – share it with your family and friends. Maybe then their questions will sound a little less naggy and more like, “How can I help”.
So the next time you are at a family dinner and your Aunt asks you, “When you are going to settle down”, don’t get annoyed, be thankful that she asked. Then proceed to give her an answer- maybe something like, “At the moment, I want to travel the world and explore new cultures before I settle down. I’m really excited about my upcoming trip to (insert random exotic country here).” When we testify about our happiness and emit a positive energy, those around us can’t help but feel that joy too. Anyone who doesn’t is a troll and that’s an issue for a whole other blog post.