I am from a small town in West Virginia. Most people get married and/or start to have children somewhere between age 18 and 25. I can count on one hand the number of people who have moved out of their parents’ houses and live completely on their own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to get married and have kids, but where I’m from, it’s almost expected. A few months after I moved to Florida, I went home to visit for the holidays. Almost everyone I saw during that time asked me the same 3 questions:
"How is your mom handling your move?"
"Have you met any boys?"
Now, these weren’t girls my age asking because they wanted the dish on how hot the boys in Florida were. These were women one or two generations older, who probably expected that since everyone else was getting married and having babies, I would soon follow suit. I moved to Florida to get a master’s degree, not find a husband. Skip ahead 2 or 3 years to when I was planning my move to New York City. My mom’s friends asked, “Oh, is there a man in New York?” Many of my friends and co-workers in Florida thought the same thing.
People always ask if I am seeing anyone, and if I say “no,” they reassure me that I will find a good man someday. When I say that I don’t know if I want to have kids, they look at me like I murdered a puppy. I am not saying that I will never ever get married or have kids, but it is not my number one goal in life. It is not what motivates me to get up in the morning. I wear makeup because I think it's fun. I go out with friends, meet new people, and travel to new places because I want to experience life. I do not do those things because I want to find a husband. I am still barely scratching the surface of my career and my dreams, so marriage and kids are nowhere on my radar. Why is it appalling when a woman says she doesn’t want those things, but it is perfectly acceptable when a man says it?
I want, more than anything, to travel. I want to live in as many places as possible in my lifetime. I want to go backpacking through Europe. I want to learn a second, third, maybe fourth language. I want to go to rock concerts, and Comic-Con, and the Super Bowl. I want to find a career that I love. If, along the way, I meet someone I can enjoy those experiences with, great. If not, that’s great too. I chose that life over the house in the suburbs with the white picket fence and two-car garage. I am perfectly content with the choice I have made and the path I am following, because it is what I want. It was my choice. It might not be yours. Neither choice is right or wrong or better than the other, they are simply different.
My best friend is happily married to a wonderful man. They have an amazing little house that they worked on together. They have 2 adorable dogs, and will probably have kids in a few years. They have great jobs, go on vacation every summer, and are perfectly content. I cannot begin to explain how happy I am for her, but you could not pay me to trade lives with her, and I am sure she would say the same for me. Some people will live their lives differently than you, and that’s ok. Do not judge or pity them, just be happy for them. I’m sure they are happy for you when you find happiness. Stop assuming that every woman wants to be married. Stop assuming that every man does not. Stop making people feel bad if they don’t fit in the little box society tries to put us in. When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt got divorced, the tabloids read, “Poor Jen,” as if her life was devoid of all meaning without a husband and children. In every interview I’ve watched and read, she appears to be pretty happy. People seem to think that women are single because they can’t find a decent man, but maybe some of us are single because we aren’t actually looking.