Although I'm not planning a wedding (although I am having a kick-ass Bastille Day party this year!), I read A Practical Wedding religiously. The last few weeks have been especially poignant, with discussions about real issues, like infidelity, deciding not to get married, and today, with the issue of children. (Also, holy smokes I want the table runner Meg posted about so bad, and will make it and put it on my dining room table just for me, weddings be damned!).
Tied into the idea of whether or not one wants children, and it's seen as a cultural taboo to NOT want them, is the notion of not wanting marriage making you unfeminine or sad or lonely or about a hundred other negative adjectives. Why is it that really really really liking myself and not feeling the need to be with someone else in a permanent way makes me unfortunate or confounding to the rest of the world?
Not, of course, that I think people who do want to get married have something wrong with them. While it is frustrating to know that a lot of people, and some of my friends, want to get married because it's what they should do, and because they need someone to be dependent on, most people, I think, get married because they genuinely love the person that they're with (not just some random person) and because they want the legal and emotional benefits marriage undeniably provides. So, if I can be fine with people getting married and having babies (because I think the same about children - some people need them, some people want them), then why can't people be okay with my single and childless life?
I think it makes people uncomfortable, and I don't think it's necessarily their fault. Our society is obsessed with weddings, and babies, and happiness and sunshine and unicorns. When someone doesn't fit into the traditional role or timeline (and, getting a PhD, I fit into neither), it makes people uncomfortable. Also, people seem to see me as sad and lonely. Yeah, breaking up sucks. But, the more distance I get from it, I wanted the wedding...and sort of didn't really like my fiance all that much. I really like me a lot. I like to do things with myself, alone - going to the movies and out to eat alone is basically a date night for me, because I get to spend time with myself and with a book (post on my obsession with literary characters coming at a later date). I like my apartment all to myself, where I can clean, or not, and wear clothes, or not, and eat whatever I want and be selfish. It's selfish being single, and I don't care. I take care of the cat, who loves me A LOT, and that's all I need. I'm comfortable with myself.
So while I love my married and parental friends, it's not for me. And I really wish that that were okay with everyone else.