"Have you declared a major?"
"Have you met his family?"
"You are switching jobs, again?"
"Well it's all fine and good as a hobby, but don't you want something secure?"
"Really, you can't raise a family in this neighborhood, can you?"
"Are you two 'trying' yet?"
"You know every baby needs a brother or sister, right?"
"You aren't going to try for a girl?"
"Are you really going to go back to work? Doesn't that break your heart?"
I'm sure the list could go on and on. You probably have your own personalized list as long as your arm. It is one of the most blatant ways our society inflicts its expectations upon us, in seemingly benign form of polite conversation. Did any of those questions actually end up putting you on a path upon which you couldn't turn back?
I'm embarrassed to say, all of those questions and many more influenced where I ended up today. I don't know if it is normal or if I suffered from an extreme lack of confidence in my youth, but I think I was desperately seeking direction and acceptance. Somewhere in my heart of hearts I thought that there was some wonderful secret to being "normal" and living happily ever after, and that if I could uncover that formula, I would be part of the ones "in the know." It's funny, my girlfriends and I particularly loved a spoof one similarly delusional girl.
So I took these questions as sign posts on my path and I followed them straight down a road that had me on antidepressants, living more or less in a catatonic state, not trusting a single instinct of my own. I plodded dutifully down the path, tripping over branches that I couldn't see, expecting at any moment the path would open into the paradise I'd been struggling toward all these many years.
Instead I found myself plopped right down at the starting line again, or at least something that resembles the starting line...excepting of course that my knees are worse, I have stretch marks a c-section scar, a taste for living with furniture and eating something other than ramen noodles and two bright shiny faces looking at me for their own sign posts. And um, I was pretty sure I was screwed.
It turns out that I wasn't as screwed as I thought I was. In fact, a little do over allowed me to step back and do some evaluation and decide that maybe this time, I would pick my own sign posts. So if you hear someone ask me, "Why aren't you dating yet?" and you hear a sound from me that implies something less than a sincere desire to please the speaker, try not to frown at me too hard. I've gone down that path before. This time, I'm blazing my own.