An Incredible Woman, Who Happens To Be Single
Sitting across from me was a woman I have known since childhood. She is an incredible athlete, a medical school student and full of energy. She had come back to Minnesota for the weekend between two of her hospital rotations and I had the pleasure of seeing her twice.
The first time I saw her was at her childhood home. She was surrounded by friends and family and seemed to enjoy jumping from conversation to conversation. She filled me in on her schedule, her favourite rotation to date and hinted at a few love interests. I could not have been more impressed with everything she had going on and, to be quite honest, I was exhausted just hearing about her life. But that was how she had always been. She needed to be busy and shoot for the stars.
Heart To Heart Conversation
The evening was nice but too short and I did not get much one on one time with her. The second time I saw her, however, it was just us. We met at the airport because we had similar flight schedules and enjoyed our last cup of Caribou coffee before flying off to places deprived of such delicious roasts. As I sipped my beverage, I listened to her tell me, almost exclusively, about her love life.
She was struggling.
Most people in her program are married and have at least one child, though from how she described it, I do not think I could have managed a goldfish while in her program. She told me how she longed for a partner though she knew that it was realistically not a great time. She told me about good guys in her life and some bad. She talked about some lost potential suitors and some she wished she had skipped entirely. In my sage wisdom (please read with sarcasm) I tried to offer her the best advice I could.
I told her that there was a time for everything and being on the prowl for a man would not make him come any sooner. She had so much to focus on now and the right guy would click when it was time. With a sigh, she nodded. She had, of course already come to that conclusion though it did not seem to give her much comfort.
With an exasperated look through her piercing eyes, she told me that the area she lived in had a culture that put a lot of pressure on people to marry young. It seemed she was surrounded by young married couples and babies.
The Pressure To Marry And Have Babies
It struck me in that moment how much pressure I, myself, had felt. I too used to long for that special someone and impatiently waited for him. I did not enjoy things to the fullest because I thought that it would be better if he was already there.
Now, I cannot blame all of that on society. Most of it was my own personal pressure. But of course, when you get around to the age of finishing college, your parents and relatives start to ask questions.
“When do you want to get married?
When will we see little ones running around the house?
Have you met any nice guys at school?”
These questions began to be a regular part of conversations with my relatives and some of my friends’ parents. I can not tell you how many times I heard, “You are such an impressive woman, why are you single?” And of course, it does not take long for sarcastic answers to follow. I began saying, “If I knew I would not be single.”
Now that I am married, it is all about babies. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was asked at my wedding when I am going to have kids. It took all of my self-control to hold in “I don’t know, I think I will finish getting married first.”
But why? Why do we do this to ourselves? I have absolutely nothing against love and babies. Honestly I do not. Mothers are the hardest working people on the planet. But that is not all they are. A wife is not all I am. So why do we put pressure on these two things above all else?
Why Not Ask These Questions For A Change?
Do we as a society ask women:
- “When will you go for your advanced degree?
- What trajectory are you going for with your career?
- Have you heard anything about that promotion?”
Sadly, we do not ask these things nearly enough.
So, I guess my point to all this is that we need to think about the pressure we put on ourselves and those around us. Asking about marriage and kids does not bring them any faster and generally makes us feel incomplete when we give an unsatisfying answer. But we are complete already.
We are all on our own unique journey and those things will fall into place if and when they are meant to. So pressure yourself and others on things they can control. Support and encourage the men and women around you who are trying to accomplish great things.
Maybe someday soon, we can live in a society that lets my friend live in peace knowing that she is on her way to becoming who and what she wants to be?
Alexis Ali lives in New York and holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics. She is a freelance writer of short stories, loves to sings and do photography. Alexis is the author of our short story series, “The Unfortunate Life of An Interesting Woman,” and her most recent post covered the issue of teaching children boundaries. Subscribe and receive updates when Alexis and other Contributors articles are posted.