I Enjoyed Being a Girl

 

I turned 26 in October, and so far the only change seems to be that this is the year people stop saying, “oh but you’re so young!” I am, of course, speaking from a woman’s perspective; for men that age is probably around 76, so . . . continue with that beer bong, sir.

I’m currently in a fairly typical situation for young urban adults, which is living in sin with my boyfriend of nearly five years. I guess it’s only natural (though, in my opinion, highly rude) for family, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, flight attendants, waiters, shoe salesmen, musicians, coworkers, dog-walkers, snow-shovelers, politicians, and Neil Diamond to all ask “so when are you getting married?”

I used to answer this question with a sing-song, “ohhhh, I don’t know! Someday!” and the response would almost always be something like, “oh, but you’re so young, you don’t have to rush into anything!” and so I would go on, merrily skipping my child-like self through a happy, golden field of wildflowers. Now, at 26, I mostly get looks of concern, particularly from older women, who shake their heads and think, “what a poor, sad little idiot living with that man who obviously doesn’t really love her! Such a shame! But why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, hahaha, right?” and all sorts of really idiotic things that people who think they’re better than you say.  

I’d be lying if I said that this doesn’t bother me. It does . . . but usually only for a minute or so. I’ll lower my head and shift in my seat and think that, ok, maybe I have been doing the wrong thing, maybe there is something wrong with our relationship, maybe we really do need to make things official. But then I remember how lucky I am to have found someone like John – my adventure partner, and how much I, we have to look forward to in life, the institution of marriage not necessarily being the most exciting of those things. In all honesty, if someone said, “you can have an all expenses paid trip to _____ OR get married”, I’d take the trip without a doubt.

I don’t think of marriage as a goal or a step; I already have a great guy, the best guy in my life and we dream about where we’ll go next, where we’ll live next, what we’ll do next, together. We’re already committed to one another and enjoy each other more than most people I know, so what does marriage mean for us? A wedding? A nice party celebrating finding each other is something I’m looking forward to, but it’s not THE thing to look forward to for us and, well, it will happen when it happens.

I like this life, and I know that I really wouldn’t want it any other way (well, except for that millionaire way, that I’d take), but that doesn’t mean that the grass doesn’t sometimes look greener on the other side. I often think about people I went to school with who are married and already have a kid or kids or one on the way. It seems so simple, like they’ve got a GPS as opposed to my directionless wandering.

There’s a song I love called “I Wanna Get Married” by Nellie McKay:

 I wanna get married, yes I need a spouse
I wanna “Leave it to Beaver”-ish golden retriever and a little white house.
I wanna get married, I need to cook meals
I wanna pack cute little lunches for my Brady Bunches then read Danielle Steele . . .
 
. . . I’ll stay home cleaning the dishes and keeping your wishes all warm
I wanna get married, that’s why I was born.

 

The first time I heard it I thought it was really funny satire, completely tongue-in-cheek. I later read an interview with Nellie McKay and she said that actually no, it was in earnest, that sometimes she does wish that she could go back to the days when her life could be that simple, nothing she expected of herself but to be a great wife and mother, concrete direction, no questions asked. When I listened to it with that perspective, it was sort of shocking, uncomfortable, and much more subversive than a played-out knock at housewives. Is this semblance of backlash something Betty Friedan predicted?

I guess I’m writing this because it’s a new-ish phenomenon that women my age in today’s world are facing and yet I don’t really hear many people talking about it very much. Sure, I’ve discussed it with friends, but not in necessarily a brutally honest way. When one of us talks about wanting babies or the desire to get married, we get embarrassed, like we’re ashamed of being “that girl” who wants those sappy, cliché things. Yet, these are biological (and still, to an extent, social) urges, so why should we feel any less of a smart, grounded, sophisticated woman for wanting them?

The thing is, we now have SO MANY OTHER CHOICES and SO MANY of those choices are SO tempting. You can have a fabulous career, follow your passions, travel the world, date a bunch of different men or none at all; we have the ability to do it all, but sometimes too many choices are just that: TOO MUCH. It’s like that Dr. Suess book where the cheerful Whos tell you that “you can go in any direction you choose!” No! No, god damn you! Just tell me which path to go down, you rhyming bastard! I don’t have time for these games! I have a biological clock and a face getting more lined by the day!

Or it’s like the menu at the Cheesecake Factory; you’re sitting there flipping through their 800 page menu, taking a million years deciding what you want because everything sounds SOOOO GOOOOD.

That’s the crisis today’s women are facing: Cheesecake Factory-syndrome. Obviously things could be worse, but sometimes I wish I only had to decide between grape and strawberry jelly.

There’s only one problem: I LIKE RASPBERRY!!!!!

The cycle continues.

Anyone else out there ever feel this way? Speak up, ladies!

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11 thoughts on “I Enjoyed Being a Girl

  1. Sophia says:

    “No, god damn you! Just tell me which path to go down, you rhyming bastard!” I LOVE this line! LOL! 😀

    I know a bit about what you’re going through. Robert & I were dating/”living in sin” for 4 years before we got married. My in-laws were SO relieved! Obviously, my mother-in-law didn’t consider any of those 4 years important, b/c she said we should stop celebrating our anniversary of when we started dating. Considering 4 years of a whole-freakin-lot had happened in our lives, we were not prepared for that and still celebrate it to this day. The wedding was a formality, really; I got a name upgrade and could get health insurance, and he got a decrease in car insurance. We both knew we weren’t going anywhere, but this was what society wanted. However, I did want the dress! 😉 In the end, we had more of my in-laws’ friends at our wedding than our own, so it was more what they wanted. If I could do it all over again, we’d do things SOOOO differently!

    Point is, after my rambling and obvious need to vent even after almost 14 years, that you do things the way you want them and live without regret. You will change your mind on a ton of things, maybe even marriage, but let YOU be the one who changes, not allowing others to change you. You are rocking the world right now; go with that. 😉

  2. Lisa says:

    1. Don’t get married before you’re 30. At least.
    2. If you do decide to make it legal, make sure you are going it for you, don’t for your family or society’s preconceived notions of what is proper and right or even for the dress and the party.
    3. If and when you decide to do it. Elope. Sure the reception is fun but think of all the other things you could do with that money! All the places you could travel to instead of blowing that wad on a one night party. Monica did it right! Wearing a white bikini on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands!

    With all that being said, I got married at 28. Mike and I were the first of our friends to get married and have kids. Now when our kids are practically grown up and independent our friends are just having their kids or have toddlers. We are ready to start living our lives again and they are all stuck at home with kids. Not that its a rule that you have to start popping out kids once you get married. Just sayin’.

    I love being married. I married my best friend and I know that we would be together even without that piece of paper. We both strongly believe in commitment and want to grow old together. There is some comfort in knowing he will always be there and that we share this journey together. I wont lie, the financial benefits are nice too as Sophia mentioned. Being married was always something I wanted. I’m traditional in that way. But we also have our lives apart from one another, we have shared and separate friends and interests that we don’t both share. We keep being ourselves and it makes our relationship stronger and more interesting.

    I took a Human Sexuality class in college (taught by a priest HA!) and the ONE THING that I took from that is you can’t be in a hurry to get married. You need to be an “I” before you can be a “We”. Thats why I hate to see people get married too young, they don’t even know who they are yet!

    Sometimes I’m envious of my single childless friends but in the end i would not change a thing. I like knowing I have someone to come home to, someone who shares the same goals I do, someone who always has my back.

    And let anyone tell you that you can’t have it all. You can, just not necessarily all at the same time.

    And as a much believed drag wearing, trombone playing, shaggy blond haired musician once said to me “just because you’re on a diet, it doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu”

    And I don’t think I’m really making any sense at this point!

  3. Rach says:

    I am pretty sure you know where I stand 🙂

    Thanks for the post…I’m happy to be an inspiration anytime – haha!

    xox
    R

  4. Kealan Casey says:

    HAHA, thanks for your wise words, Lisa and Sophia . . . and your agreement, Rachael!

    I’m glad that I really could care less about what my family wants me to do when it comes to these types of things (sorry guys!) so I don’t have that problem, but the financial benefits are tempting. Ha, I asked John if we should just get engaged so we could participate in “Wedding Week” on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire!! HA. He was like, “Um, I don’t feel comfortable with Regis Philbin having anything to do with our engagement.” So picky.

    It’s not really the marriage issue so much as the daunting idea of, “oh crap, people my age have kids and I don’t want that yet but I guess I have to start thinking about it and figuring out how to cram in all the things I want/need to do before then” thing. Oh well. I guess I still have some time!

  5. Chris says:

    Please clarify: with regard to the Cheesecake Factory, was “everything sounds SOOOO GOOOOD” intended to be sincere or sarcastic? Answer carefully and prepare to be judged. 😛 Not really… well, maybe.

  6. Kealan Casey says:

    HA! You caught me. You’re right, I really do NOT like the Cheesecake Factory, but they’re the only place I know of that has an 800 page menu!

  7. Brighid says:

    this is my life right now

  8. Kealan Casey says:

    WHAT are you talking about??? You are 18 freaking years old!! HA.

  9. e says:

    Totally normal – women have TONS of choices these days and I think it’s awesome…doesn’t make it any less overwhelming of course but it is awesome that you can be happily unmarried with or without a partner and with or without kid(s) and still be NORMAL. And we also have TIME to make the decision – we are no longer considered old maids at 19 😛

    I think the important thing is to be happy – if being happily unmarried to John forever makes you both happy then I support it 110%.

    Ditto Lisa too – if you do choose marriage at some point do it your way and on your own terms. When Justin and I started planning ours I realized I was agreeing to feed a bunch of people I don’t even like – plans changed immediately and we got married in the middle of a room with 12 people around us which, for us, was perfect 🙂

  10. kelly says:

    i have always been the type of girl that wanted to get married and have lots of babies. i have also always been the type of girl who likes to get crazy and go out and become the kissing bandit of dewey beach:) i loved when i was single, i love it now that i am married, and i love being a mother. my experiences when i was single made me appreciate my marriage. the waiting (a WHOLE year ha ha) to have ryan had more to do with the fact that i was 30 and wanted to have a bunch of kids. age is a real factor for women who want to have children.

    i wouldn’t change a thing! i can’t even begin to tell you how happy i am, and have been for quite a long time. i am so blessed.

  11. Stephanie says:

    I only got married cause I wanted a nice fat ring!

    just sayin…..

    (and for those who don’t know me, they know I’m kidding), only slightly….

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