I had always appreciated the people who fall in love and carry that aura of happiness with them. the happiness of others who had fallen in love and carried an aura of joy wherever they went. Sometimes when I was unhappy with where I was in life, I felt a little envious that two people could get along so well. How many couples do you see with this seemingly perfect “couple life” and the hashtag #couplegoals on social media? They start out with the cute first experience photos of falling in love, a few trips to places with sunsets, and soon they are officially engaged, getting married, posting a hundred wedding photos, and before you know it your entire Facebook feed and Instagram thread contains enough baby photos to Google “Average Age of Marriage in the U.S.”. I get targeted with ads for baby diapers, baby clothing, babies, babies, babies, … and I’m not even married! Yet.
I mean, come on, finding someone you want to sleep with is hard enough…but finding a person you want to sleep with for the rest of your life…I mean, until you “Rest In Peace”…that’s a big commitment.
With one of my recent clients, one of the senior male executives was always very concerned about my work habits. I was working late, not taking outside relationships with decent guys seriously. I was more interested in getting a project done right than I was about cancelling (over a text message) a two-week vacation a guy I was dating on and off for almost two years had planned. I mean, to be fair I had not taken a vacation in probably three years that did not involve a work conference or meeting. And I really enjoyed my work, which was not always easy to say when I was spending 1-1 time with this guy from my past. When I think about all of the advice I received from this client, two things ring through my mind. I once considered buying a puppy, and he quickly responded, “You don’t need a dog, you need a boyfriend.” The second shared wisdom: “You should freeze your eggs now, don’t wait. If you wait too long you won’t be able to have a baby. Do it now so it isn’t too late.” While these statements are not really acceptable work-place comments, he was an immigrant from a country where family is the top priority and providing for his family was his number one priority. Yes, okay, I admit it… I did Google, “How much does it cost to freeze your eggs” and “How old is too old to have a healthy baby” and “Sperm donors options for single women” along with about 10 other concerns that my body might be expiring at the expense of doing the one thing I was truly able to love: WORK.
When I stopped working with this client, I found that I could finally slow down and take some time to take care of myself and provide some much-needed introspection and self-care. Sometimes life has a way of waking you up to what truly matters…and I realized that I was okay not working 24/7…and I was more than okay saying “no” to people when it would have been more stressful than what it was worth. I began to set boundaries on free advice and taking meetings with people who would never be a good match as a client. And I started really nurturing my self-acceptance, self-love, and dating myself. In the process, I accepted that I might not find the love of my life. And I told my family to stop asking about my love life. I had the talk with my mother that I might not have kids, or if I did, I might be doing it alone…both options were things she would have to accept and no longer pressure me about. After all, was it my fault that I was getting older and just didn’t meet the right person? I do not think I was wrong at all for not settling with just anyone, and, trust me, I could have had many boyfriends and many men who would have proposed if they knew I would say yes.
Now I’ll also admit…I’m not even close to the age where I am worried about popping out babies. I also was not concerned that an age like 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 or 33 made you less likely to find love or make anything urgent. Yet, everyone in my life after age 25 until recently would continue to say, “You still have time. You’re young. You’ll meet the right person.” Or, “You can have kids after 35 and now people are even having them in their 40’s without health issues.” Or, “It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you accidently got pregnant.”
Flashback to my childhood and at age five I was convinced I had found the love of my life. His name was Eric. I confessed my love for him in my childhood diary with a lock that could easily be picked by my eight-year-old brother. At the dinner table one evening, my older brother broke the news to my family that I was indeed in love with someone very unique…a cartoon character named Eric from the little Mermaid whose name I spelled “Arick.” “I am in loooooovvveeeee with Areeeee-ick,” still echoes through my mind with my family’s laughter. That kind of experience quickly helps you realize your naivety.
By age six I outgrew the fairy tale thing, slightly accelerated by my trusted grandmother’s wisdom: “You have to kiss a lot of toads before you meet your prince.” Things were looking bleak. Shape-shifting frog-princes seemed like they would be very difficult to encounter. But it prepped me for the expectation that the right person was there, albeit not going to be as easy for me as others. Nor should it be a quest and top priority that I seek to fulfill me because I don’t understand self-love. AKA you would not find me trading my vocal cords in exchange for three days of time (or, three sunsets rather) to sever my lower extremities so I could get physically closer (aka on land) to a blue-eyed Prince (with great hair) who, by the way I know nothing about, AND with such high stakes. I mean, how desperate do you have to be to gamble your family’s entire estate (in this case an entire “Under-the-Sea” oceanic Kingdom) and the safety of the entire ocean because YOU want the chance to hang out with a guy that you’ve frankly only seen from a faraway rock as you stalked him from a distance. Not to mention you’re gambling with a ruthless dictator who was power hungry and left very little negotiating room for your odds to increase by maybe giving you proper clothing to cover your body once you end up on land for the first time, or um, maybe allowing you the gift of literacy so you could write your potential suitor a note to explain why you cannot talk/walk/need him to kiss you when you’re paddling in a boat. All in all, her choices were pretty desperate. As for Eric, I say he handled the whole “Ariel’s legs turn into fins thing while she gets her voice back and tries to explain that an entire animal kingdom exists with talking birds and singing lobster and that she was so crazy selfish to find love that she risked it all for HIM” thing pretty well. Most guys would have probably needed some space. Instead they kill the sea monster Ursula and get married while he waves goodbye to her mermaid family and ignores the fact she was an entirely different species three days prior.
Wow, when I put “The Little Mermaid” facts into those terms, it seems like the most dramatic season finale Bachelorette in its history (and oddly equally unrealistic, despite being reality TV).
My point, I guess, is that I listened to my Grandmother. She had real love with my Grandpa. The kind where she wore her wedding ring a decade after he died until she died, too. And I’m really, really glad I listened to her advice to kiss a lot of toads before I met my Prince and didn’t settle because … well, big news in the next post… it has to do with my Never-Ending-First-Date, John,…well we’re past the 150 day mark and have still only slept apart one night since our first date. It looks like this trend won’t be stopping any time soon… BIG NEWS ON THE NEXT POST!