I never thought I would be 37 and unmarried.
I’m at an age where most of my friends are married, and, if not married, then divorced, because they’ve already been married.
My Facebook feed is primarily full of baby photos. My twentieth high school reunion is this year, and I am hard-pressed to think of more than five people who aren’t married, much less don’t have children (plural). Because, you know, that’s what most people this age are doing.
And it’s not that I haven’t tried, because I have. One of the reasons my last relationship lasted way longer than it should have was because he kept dangling promises of engagement rings in my face. I don’t care about the ceremony (City Hall is fine), but I want that ring.
I’m a feminist. Totally. In many, many ways. But I still want that feeling of belonging to someone. I know there are a million reasons why engagement rings are déclassé, but I want that feeling of looking down at my hand and knowing that I’m loved and cared for and that I am someone’s wife. That is what I want. Judge all you will.
But for whatever reason(s), I don’t have it. My hand is bare. I sleep alone. I am not married, I have no children, and I am 37. Forgive me for being a little Taylor Swifty.
I want to have a kid, but I’m not compelled to create it in my own body, so I don’t have that pressure. I decided last year to stop dating and just focus on my work, so I have delayed all these other things for at least a couple years because PhD school trumps all at the moment. The hope, of course, is that after a couple years of PhD school I will have something to show for it, something more tangible and productive and fulfilling than a couple years of letting douchebags jerk me around.
The idea being that you have to make the most of what you’re given. And I’ve been given the “gift” (there’s a little irony there) of a lot of time to myself, so I write. I work. I read. I research. I pull my career forward, one step clawed at a time.
Is this what I envisioned for myself? Oh, hell no. If you’d asked me five years ago (or ten years ago) where I saw myself at 37, it would not be this. I never expected to pursue a PhD, to go back to school, to be living this life that I have. But this is why five year plans are dangerous. You may have the best intentions, you may have all the determination in the world, but life may have other plans for you. And the trick is recognizing what those plans might be and embracing them to the best of your ability.
So I write, and I work, and I read, and I research. Because that’s what I’ve been given. And I’m determined to make the most of it. The other stuff can happen later. And if it doesn’t happen in exactly the way I see it in my head, then I’ll work with that, too. A lot of life is about appreciating how little of it may be up to you. Which is why I never make five year plans.
That said, as my sister moves in with her gorgeous, smart, sensitive, sweet boyfriend this weekend, I can’t help but be a bit sad. As zen as I am most of the time about all this, and as much as I do enjoy my work, and as driven as I am to somehow prove myself to myself, I sometimes wonder if I missed the boat on the other stuff.