I’m sure you’ve heard that Facebook got themselves into a little hot water recently. Apparently it was manipulating newsfeeds of a pool of users, showing them friends’ posts that contained “positive” buzzwords, and then seeing how that pool of users was affected based on their subsequent status updates & posts. It was an unethical psychological experiment on unaware subjects.
Yet I’m intrigued as to if they actually found out anything more than what they’re sharing (which is it had “minimal” effects).
Because I, for one, really am so happy and excited for all my friends who are getting married and having babies. Truthfully, I am! (I promise!!)
And yet I’m exhausted.
From following all the relationship status updates, looking at photos, reading sweet posts to each other, clicking through links to their registries, to their Huffington Post articles about how marriage is so awesome, lists on how to be a better wife, or comparing different breast pumps.
NO ACTUAL, PHYSICAL INTERACTION WHATSOEVER ON MY PART. I have literally attended five weddings in my life and only held one baby in the last three years.
So why, at 26, do I feel like I’m falling behind?
I consider myself to be a successful person thus far. I have two college degrees. I lived in Europe for four months. I enjoy my job waiting tables (seriously!), I pay my bills without much hassle and/or worry, and I am so unbelievably grateful for the professional musical theatre opportunities I have already experienced and that I have coming up. I personally am not ready to trade or compromise where I am in life for a family right now.
Yet I bawled like a baby reading this birth story on Carrots N Cake. There’s nothing sad or even out of the ordinary about it, but just the beautiful simplicity of her story was so moving; how she was so excited to meet the little guy who’d been growing inside her for nine months.
And that’s what gets me. You grow a PERSON for NINE MONTHS inSIDE of you, and yet you don’t know anything about them. A WHOLE HUMAN BEING. That you are in charge of 100%. You will shape them, and help them create their morals, their memories, their whole lives. You get to watch them grow up and have personalities and experiences and skinned knees and pride in their every accomplishment. And that moment of finally getting to meet them must be one of the most amazing things a woman can experience.
I JUST THINK THAT’S SO COOL AND BEAUTIFUL AND IT MAKES ME FEEL SO FULL OF ALL THE EMOTIONS AAAAAND I WANT ONE.
And I know, at 26, that it’s perfectly natural to feel that way about babies because my uterus is totally like “GIRL. Get it toGETHER. You need a BABY all up inside you YESTERDAY!”
But then, it all comes back to this question: how much of that feeling is actually natural, and how much of it is perpetuated by Facebook?
I was talking with the roomie about this a while ago, about how we feel outside pressure that marriage and a family are what we are expected to strive for. How those are the Ultimate Goal. The Facebook Ideal. As soon as we obtain a handsome husband, pop out an adorable tiny human, and have a picturesque, matching sweater Christmas Card (/Facebook Profile Pic!), we’ve succeeded at all things. But is that it?
And yes, I’m sure people had those feelings in the pre-Facebook days. But I strongly believe that Facebook helps to sustain those feelings, and magnifies them tenfold. Same with Twitter! And Instagram! And blogs! And Pinterest! (Let’s be honest, what girl *doesn’t* have a wedding Pinterest board?)
I admit, I find myself feeling down about it too often; it honestly makes me feel like I’m behind. But when I really sit and think about it though, I am NOT sad to be single. I have even done the online dating thing, and have met & dated enough guys to realize it’s just not worth settling for someone who doesn’t fit or who’s too low to round up to my ONE. (<–Dan Savage video link!)
(Also his Price of Admission video is great, too, on a similar “there is no The One” idea…and on we go…)
Since Fall 2006, I have always been either:
-In a relationship
-Rebounding from a relationship
-Pursuing someone to date
-In an unhealthy FWB situation with whom I usually wanted to be dating…awkward.
September 2013-March 2014, I didn’t go on any dates. Totally abstinent. And it surprised me how FREEING it was.
My Friday nights? I could go out with friends OR watch Netflix until 2am…I didn’t have to check in with anyone. That 3 mile run? I started doing it for ME, not because I wanted to look better naked for someone else. That super cute dress I bought? I didn’t need anyone to tell me I looked good in it, because I felt great in it. That third beer and 5th Christmas cookie? Fuck off, I do what I want!
I, all of a sudden, was not defining myself by my relationships. I was just defining myself, and I was allowing myself to just BE. Happy. Sad. Excited. Loud. Joyful. Angry. And I felt glorious.
While the “I don’t need anyone else” realization happened years ago (another story), this was the first time I’d truly been alone in seven years. And this is not to discredit or put down any kind of relationship I have ever had; I am still on good terms with many of them, close friends with a few, and learned a lot from the ones who are no longer a part of my life. But having a chance to sit back and be alone, I saw that I was so often getting completely sucked into that other person; my moods mirrored theirs, I was so affected by the little things, and I would start to question everything I said or did. I would start to question myself. And it would escalate (comedically) quickly.
“Did I say the wrong thing? Does he think I’m mad? Is he mad?? Why isn’t he responding immediately to my text???”
“Is he judging me for eating that second cookie? What if he feels my pudgy stomach during sex, and remembers that second cookie, and judges me for it THEN, when I’m already naked and can’t hide it?? Does he even find me sexually attractive???”
“Will he hate me if I don’t go out with him and his friends? Will he think I’m lazy if I don’t feel like putting on a bra & make-up, and just want to watch Netflix by myself tonight? Can I have a bottle of wine?? Will he think I’m a lazy alcoholic if I tell him I’m drinking a bottle of wine by myself tonight while I sit around and watch Netflix???
“I probably shouldn’t have even told him I mentioned our date to my parents…now he thinks that I think he’s The One…now he’s gonna go running for the hills just like all the rest of them…”
THOSE ARE ALL SUCH STUPID THINGS THAT I NEVER WORRY ABOUT WHEN I’M SINGLE. I rarely think those things about my friends. So why should I worry about them when I’m in a relationship??
Yet I have absolutely thought all of these sorts of thoughts with EVERY.SINGLE.GUY. These thoughts are all red flags that I often overlook and suppress until there’s a sea of red and I’m forced to come to terms with the fact that he is, in fact, not someone I’d want to spend the rest of my life with. Normally that realization happens after a box of tissues and a lot of ice cream, as I’ve already been dumped by him, usually because I held out for waaaaay too long, hoping that it would all work out.
So why do I get into the habit of forcing something that obviously isn’t working? I really believe it all comes back to the Facebook Ideal. I start to think that maybe this is it for me; maybe this guy is the guy I should end up with, that I should settle for. The idea that I should want, that I should need, that perfect Facebook Profile Picture with a Stud Muffin, a Big-Ass Diamond Ring, and a Fucking Adorable Tiny Version of the Two of Us (and maybe even A Dog) to feel good about where I am in my life. Because Facebook shows me that marriage and relationships are easy and fun and perfect and the ultimate WIN. That that’s what I should be striving for. That, yes, I am successful if I land a great role in a dream show, but I am MORE successful (& worthy of a $20,000 celebration) if I’m walking down the aisle in a white (ha!) gown.
I want that. Someday. I know so many great people (younger, older, my age) in truly happy marriages & relationships, some with beautiful children, being kickass parents & partners, WHO MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER PEOPLE, and they’re still doing what they love. Their relationships are strong, but hard work, and while everyone hits rocks occasionally, they deal with the rocks and keep on sailing. That’s love, and it’s just not worth settling for anything less than that.
Am I ready for a serious relationship with someone that I could eventually have that with? I think so. And I am so excited to someday decide to spend the rest of my life with someone, and to someday hold MY adorably tiny human for the first time. But I’m really gonna try to stop letting the outside world make me feel that I am not successful until I have those things. Because I AM happy AND fulfilled AND worthy AND successful. And it took me a long time to realize, accept, and relish that.
So now I’m off to spin class so I can enjoy checking out my own butt in the mirror later. ;-)