Case of the Oughts

There is a certain ought-ness that hangs in the air in your 20’s. You ought to graduate college, you ought to get a good paying job, you ought to be thinking about buying a house. Not to mention that ever looming pressure to get married and have babies.

The last one comes from every angle- girlfriends, commercials, magazines, etc. There really is no escaping it.  It’s a distracting urgency that I have felt thrust upon me from all directions and up until recently I have been rather successful at deflecting it. During these past couple of months there have an increasing number of times that people have demanded to know when the boyfriend and I are getting married.

One such example of this came not too long ago with a family member. It’s worth noting that I have fringe relationships with the majority of my family, bordering on estrangement, and that I scarcely spend time with any of my extended family.

I was having a conversation with one of said family members during a rare encounter about the number of weddings my boyfriend and I had attended this past summer (6!). Her reaction was, “Well, doesn’t that make you feel…..lonely?”

Due to fighting back the laughter that was soon to erupt and anger that I could feel from the pit of my stomach, it took me a moment to respond. She was referring to the fact that there is no ring on my finger and that I was in no immediate turmoil because of the lack of one.

The word ‘lonely’ immediately evokes an image of woman wearing a Snuggie, living with ten cats and watching daytime television. Did I seem like my life was on a path that would lead me endless hours of ‘The Price is Right’?! I was insulted.

But I also wanted to burst into laughter. This silly, silly woman thinks that I cannot have a successful and meaningful existence without spending an obscene amount of money on flowers and cake!

Now, I am not one that particularly believes in the institution of marriage, nor the requirement from society to have children. Perhaps one day my stance on these things will change, as all things do as you grow older.

Right now, I’m in no hurry to buy into this fabricated ideal conjured up by the bridal industry (I mean, they have conventions!). Maybe I’ll tie the knot when in my 30’s, maybe when I retire, maybe never. But I find it offensive and amusing that I must be labeled as ‘lonely’ because I am not heading down the aisle.

I have felt a flood of happiness (and even a tear or two) for my friends that have taken the matrimonial leap. Marriage is a personal decision, and for me a preference, one that shouldn’t need to have judgment passed upon it. Just because I do not see a wedding in my near (or far) future doesn’t mean that I don’t support and celebrate my friends decision to do so.

After this exchange with my family member I am thankful that I am not constantly reminded of my inadequate status of single on the daily (fringe relationships, remember). But I can understand how it could get tiring to fend of accusations of being “lonely” because one isn’t registered for a bridal shower yet.

I don’t think I ought to get married, have children or purchase a house. I think I ought to be making sure I am happy and fulfilled where I’m at right now.