I understand that certain things in our lives are correlated with a particular point in time. [While there are some exceptions] for the most part, we all start driving at the same time, attend high school at the same ages, and then once college is over, we are supposed to be in charge of our own timeline for the rest of our lives. And yet, society still somehow dictates what we do and when we do it…or at least when we are “supposed to” do it.
I think we all know where this is headed. When I’m talking about timelines and expectations, I’m talking about everyone’s favorite subject to bring up at family reunions: marriage and babies. Now some of these expectations are created from the generations before us, and some things we do are a result of good old familial or peer pressure. Let’s break it down, shall we?
The Generations Before Us
From the ripe old age of 22—when, I should preface, I was very, very single—my grandma’s favorite thing to do was to remind me that by this time in her life, she was already married with 2 kids, and would have 3 more before she was 28. And wouldn’t ya know it, here I am, age 27…with no babies. (BUT there’s still hope for me yet folks as I’ve got myself a worthy suitor.) Except what my grandma would always seem to forget is things are different today than when she was in her early twenties. The fact of it right now is that women are getting married and starting families much later than they used to, and I’m personally proud of that change. And I will be one of the women that follow that trend, much to the dismay of my grandmother (though I do think I’m probably gonna stick to just the one or two children, as I value my sanity).
While my grandmother was setting expectations for me based on how her generation did it, I also still experience a good amount of pressure from family members that want me to get married and have kids simply because THEY are ready for it. And I want to talk about it because I think it happens to a lot of us.
My mother makes it very well known that she’s ready for grandkids. Whether it’s the subtle glance over at me when she’s holding a baby, or the not so subtle text message I get when she’s at a baby shower. Direct quote: “skip the wedding, go straight for the babies.” The problem is I’m not ready, and hell, I’m not even engaged yet! (an event of which my mom is also not so patiently waiting to happen). But it’s my life and my decision, and I can’t follow the ideal timeline that someone else created for me.
So why is everyone else so concerned with when those moments are going to happen for us? How come when we are single we constantly get asked if we are seeing anyone? How come when we finally start seeing someone we get asked when we are getting engaged? And then as soon as we get married (it was legitimately the next morning for my newlywed friends), people want to know when they can expect a pregnancy announcement.
Well, for anyone dealing with these conversations from family members lately, here is your response: “I’m just enjoying where I am in my life right now, and I’m happy with how things are.”
This should always be an acceptable answer and our loved ones will usually be content with it. Because at the end of the day our happiness is truly all they care about and that response should be everything they really need to hear.
…actually wait, let me adjust that one.
Self-Inflicted* Peer Pressure
I felt the need to add this prefix to the headline because I genuinely believe our *true* friends and peers never really pressure us to do anything we don’t want to do right now. That being said, I have definitely fallen victim of a friend shaming me for not having babies at a young age, but I chose to simply shrug it off and tell myself she meant well. And really, we can’t let that stuff get to us anyway as long as we are content with our choices and where we are.
So how do we inflict this pressure onto ourselves? For one, social media definitely doesn’t do us any favors. At least once in our young adult lifetime we have felt “behind” when comparing our lives to some of where our [same age] friends are at in theirs. For example, sometimes when it seems like all of our high school Facebook friends are getting engaged or pregnant, it can definitely affect us. I know I’ve seldom let the engagement posts get to me before; but when I really reflect on it, I’m okay with where my relationship is right now and I’m letting the fantasy of that moment get to me a little too much. And when it’s just your social media peers, it’s easy to keep scrolling and move on from those thoughts; but when it’s your close friends making moves like that, it can definitely be harder to simply brush those thoughts off.
The truth of it all is though, everyone’s timeline is completely different, and it’s really just a waste of energy to compare your life point to someone else’s. You are where you are supposed to be right now in this moment, and things will come as they should. So be happy for the people around you when big moments happen for them, but more importantly always be happy for yourself. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a causal relationship. Something good happening for someone else doesn’t mean you should internalize it as something bad happening to you. You’ll have your moment when the time is right, and everyone you have supported up to that point will be equally as supportive of you too. Just remember that we control our own happiness and good things happen to us when we truly let them in.
So let them in, babe.