I hate “should” with a passion. I’m not remotely interested in any of the things I “should” want; instead, I want to travel, and write, and read books, and have adventures. At 28, I have no intention of getting married, or having babies, or buying a house. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to do those things, then go for it – focus absolutely all your energies into achieving the things you want, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t have those things. But that same sentiment should (ha!) apply if you don’t want to take the more conventional route.
I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve been told that I’ll change my mind. When I was engaged, a massive sticking point was that I had no intention of changing my name if-and-when we got married, and it was a far bigger deal to my ex, and everyone else, than it was to me. I spent quite a lot of time waiting to wake up wanting a big white dress and post through the letterbox addressed to “Mr & Mrs X,” and it never happened, because that just isn’t me. In retrospect, I could have saved a lot of heartache if I’d accepted that about myself sooner, or if other people had accepted that of me.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked when I’m going to “settle down.” Here’s an interesting point: I don’t want to settle. “Settling down” is the least appealing thing ever. How about not settling? How about spending all your time smashing your goals and making things happen, instead? I’m not saying that you can’t goal-smash or happen-make if you are “settled” (be that with a partner, with babies, or with a mortgage), but you already have everything you need to be able to achieve whatever you want.
It makes me sad that the vast majority of the time, it’s other women who give the “you should…” speech. I can count on one finger how many times a man has told me that my biological clock will start ticking soon, and I have to hurry up before it’s too late. It would be nice if women could celebrate other women’s differences; we don’t all have to want the same things. Wouldn’t life be boring if we did?
Conventions are only conventional because they apply to the majority, and that’s totally ok. I’m not judging anyone who wants to do any of that. I just think that things would be much easier for everyone if the people who don’t want those things were judged a little bit less. I’m aware that my relationship, and choices I’ve made around it, are not the most conventional, and I don’t care. I’m aware that it’s unusual to be utterly baffled at the idea that I would give up the name that has been mine for my entire life in order to take on someone else’s. I know that I don’t want to have any children of my own, and that one day, I might decide that I’m secure and stable enough to be able to offer a child a shot at a decent life, and that Angelina Jolie might end up in awe of my collection of rescued rainbow babies. I’m ok with all of those things, and I’m ok with the fact that any of them might change. I like them. What I don’t like is being told constantly that I should want something else. That I should put myself in a box I don’t fit into.
Rosie, I totally agree. “Should” can do one.
(images from Pinterest)