**This is a re-post, updated to better articulate my feelings in some areas. Original post date 8/2/17**
Normally I don’t do “rant” posts, but this is one. I don’t know if there will be enough of these to technically have a “series” of rants, and they will only appear when I see fit. In this and all cases of rant posts by me, they are not meant to be political, there will be generalizations made for the sake of the underlying frustration fueling the post, and I’m not writing these as any kind of attack on anyone in particular. This (and any rant post that may come in the future) is a topic that has been weighing heavily on me and that I felt compelled to share my honest opinions about. Now that I’ve gotten through the disclaimer, it’s time for the rant..
Society as we know it is ever-changing and has come a long way (relatively) from where it was even 100 years ago. Among other things, women can vote, LGBTQ (and others I’m missing) persons are increasingly free to live their lives openly, and self expression via tattoos, piercings, and unnatural hair colors is becoming more commonplace. Despite that, there is still this expectation of what I call the “white picket fence.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been put in boxes by strangers and those that know me alike because of my natural blonde hair, demeanor that seems to exude “sunshine,” and God given intelligence. I grew up going to church, and from an early age it was instilled (*not* at the fault of my parents) in me that my future would look something like the following scenario: I would get a college education of at least a Bachelor’s degree, meet a good Christian man, likely a business man or engineer, have a wedding featuring a Pinterest worthy church ceremony, and have a few kids. It’s likely I could work part time, so long as I was able to be a “good little wife” and I would spend most of my time keeping up our house with the “white picket fence.”
For some people, that works. For them, that’s great. Where my issue lies is with the expectation for myself and other girls like me to have ambition and be educated, free-thinkers, but that we’re also expected to “fall in line.” To me, it’s all too Stepford-y (yes, that’s a link to a Wikipedia page).
I’ll go ahead and start with religion. Religion can be great, but it can also be the cause of literal war. I believe what I believe, and I choose to carry out my faith/beliefs in a way that make sense to me. Through the course of my dating life, I have learned that religion is not something I need in a relationship. I know that some of my readers will need a moment to digest that, but it’s my truth and I have to be honest about it. I have been in religiously based relationships that have been severely dysfunctional, not to mention very awkward and forced. I have been in relationships lacking religion entirely that have been very open and rational. I prefer my romantic relationships not be based in religion, and I even encourage they lack religion. I like knowing where the other person stands, and how they got to that point. That tells me more about their character, personality, and integrity than how many Sundays they attend a year. The only common ground I require in this topic is respect in each other’s views and respect for the journey to that place.
Revered occupations come next. I’m all for educating yourself, following through with school, and doing what you can do to move up. However, education, schooling, and progress can be seen in any field (albeit to differing degrees), and I would much rather my partner be successful while doing something that makes them happy and feel fulfilled than have some high paying desk job that literally sucks their soul. Yes, high paying desk job and fulfillment can come together, but that is not the norm.
Pinterest worthy wedding time – I’m all for pretty and photo worthy, but there are a few issues with this. Marriage should first and foremost be about the commitment, not the aesthetic. In reality, I’m pretty close to sold on the idea of a courthouse wedding. Despite how many I’ve attended or been in, weddings are strange to me. I support marriage between two people who wholly care for and are committed to one another, but large weddings make me uncomfortable because of how intimate and significant a marriage is; in this day and age, I feel we invite far too many people to witness this intimacy and almost expect inappropriate comments to be sprinkled throughout in regards to “wifely duties.” No thank you. Not for me. Marriage is about respect and partnership, and I feel that many weddings tend to gloss over that in favor of highlighting the “shackling” commitment being made and the newfound expectations of sex to please the husband.
Children. As long as I can remember, I felt like I was expected to have kids (after getting married, of course). I cannot wait for my friends to start having kids, but I am in no rush to do so myself, and am certain that my life is not hinging on whether or not I’m a biological mother to other humans. Never say never, but kids don’t make my short list (unless they’re goats) of things to do.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time explaining what I don’t want, so I think it’s only fair that I share what I do want. My idea of a fulfilling life more closely resembles the following: owning a bunch of land with a modest house, having a husband who works hard for what he wants and supports me working towards my goals, spending nearly all my free time traveling, and caring for a small zoo’s worth of animals. I’m sure a fence will be involved, but that’s to corral the animals.
My life goals include seeing and doing as many things as I can in my life, and none of them are conducive to coming second to someone else’s whims or being reliant on someone else for financial allowances.
The world is filled with different ideas and expectations for the “right” way to live your life, and I’ve only covered one niche (middle-class, heterosexual, Christian). At the end of the day, if you’re happy, not infringing on someone else’s ability to live their life the way they want to, and you’re being a generally good person, does it really matter what “right” looks like?