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Two articles - Being single and "immature"

I've recently come across Thought Catalog, and last week I read two articles that really cut through and expressed a lot of how I feel at the moment.

There was this one about being single.

And there was this one about the pressure associated with growing up.

First, singleness.  Like the article mentions, I do have time.  I have more time than I ever would have imagined.  At all times I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want without having to account for myself to anyone.  It has gotten to the point where when things impose on my schedule, I find it grating.  I notice this more and more all the time.  As singleness has become my default setting, so to has doing things, socialising, eating, drinking, working, exercising, and doing everything according to my own schedule and preferences.

Of course, I can't say that I am filling all that "not in a relationship" time with anything "worthwhile."  But I have learned to be single, which has been an important lesson for me to learn.  Perhaps now I am working on being secure with myself.

And that brings me to growing up.  When I was in school, I often felt I had aged before my time, as I didn't seem to share the impulses common to so many in my generation.  Now, firmly in my mid 30s, I still don't.  People I knew growing up have mortgages and children and careers, and I have none of those things.  (You may wish to debate the career part of that, but I consider myself to be figuring that part of my life out rather than knowing or feeling settled in something.)

I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I took on the trappings of adulthood.  What if I had a mortgage that needed paying every month, a wife and kids that needed me at home rather than flitting off to play at whatever odd thing is the flavour of the month for me, and a career that imposed itself on my schedule in a way that prevented me from doing what I want on my own terms.  I spent years thinking I wanted those things, and now I can scarely imagine taking any of them on.  To be honest, I do feel as though I am being selfish at times because of this.

There is pressure to settle into a neat life defined by these things.  I've got plenty of friends who have, and who are happy having done so.  I don't hold a grudge against them, but I am conscious of the fact that society is oriented towards these choices.  You don't have to make them, but there will always be those who look at you with judgement (or pity) if you don't.

After reading this, I realised that I am quite lucky.  The people who are important to me don't come down on me for being immature or any other disparaging characteristic that the busybodies of the world might like to level at me.  I'm sure such busybodies exist, but my knowledge of them is almost entirely academic.  I'm not sure I can think of any of them who matter one jot in my life.  The people who do, don't pressure me to settle into a life characterised by "adulthood."

Most notably, I thought of my parents, who did choose this life, but who have been very good about not pressing me into doing the same.  I know it happens, but it's never really happened to me.  There is no pressure to get married, there is no pressure to buy a home (they mentioned it might be a good idea to get into the property market some time ago, but haven't mentioned it for years) and I haven't once been hounded to provide grandchildren (my sister has already done that, but even if she hadn't I can't imagine being hounded like that.)

Perhaps I should send them these articles.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Heather C.
May. 11th, 2012 05:05 pm (UTC)
As yet another singleton, I think that the key is to realize that for some people (well, for a lot of people), living in a relationship and building a family and a home is what makes them happy. And I don't resent or dismiss them for it. It just hasn't been what I wanted for myself, and I'm fortunate to have friends who don't wonder if there's not something wrong with me for not doing it, too.

I don't know that you have to fill every moment with doing something worthwhile. I don't think anybody does. The 'trappings of adulthood' are not necessarily the bungalow house with a green lawn. It's about being responsible for yourself and your choices, for trying not to hurt others, for being empathetic in your dealings with them, and to be a participating citizen in your community. I don't think that you haven't grown up. You've held a number of good jobs, you're a volunteer firefighter, and you're a really good friend. You look after yourself. You do new things and take on new challenges. If that's not being an adult, what is?
May. 11th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
That's a good way to look at it. Being an adult is about taking responsibility for yourself, and that's not a problem for me.

It's just hard sometimes not to see it as things, especially when there are so many signs pointing to that. It seems like every ad I see is saying "you aren't a real person unless you have income protection insurance to protect your family if you die, and you take out a mortgage, and you buy nappies and so on.

The budget came down in Australia last week, and there are a plethora of things to help "working families" but nobody seems to take any interest in single people. We just get to pay the taxes to support the lollipops for everyone else.

I don't even mind paying the cost of that so much as the implication that certain people are not living their lives properly and so are not worthy of consideration.
Heather C.
May. 11th, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC)
There certainly are a lot of tax breaks for families and children...but I suppose I see that as part of the citizen aspect of being 'grown-up.' I would rather pay more taxes, as a single woman, than to think that families with small children (heck, with any children) might struggle unnecessarily. I'm not wild about tax dollars going to hockey rinks and tax credits to send kids to soccer and ballet, but I suppose I hope that they'll be better individuals for the experience. And, after all, I hope that they'll help to pay down the cost of taking care of me when I'm a little old lady. I think that we singletons still have a place in the community, and it takes communities to raise up children (whether we are actively involved in their upbringing or contributing, financially, to the community chest). Give and take, I suppose.

Also, you and I don't have to get up in the middle of the night with a pukey kid. So there are benefits in return.

(if you feel you must buy diapers, you could always chuck them in the cart and drop them off at a food bank.)
Heather C.
May. 11th, 2012 10:23 pm (UTC)
(I haven't just said something obscene in Australian parlance, have I?)
May. 12th, 2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
On principle I am in favour of someone having kids. One day I will be old and I will want people who are educated and healthy who are able to grown my food and heal my illnesses. For that reason I don't mind that there are programs aimed at ensuring the next generation turns out well.

But there is a hell of a lot of pandering to the family demographic.

And no, you've not said anything vulgar in Oz Speak.
(Deleted comment)
May. 12th, 2012 01:18 pm (UTC)
I think so too. Heather C has known me for a very long time and she knows where I'm coming from.

Like I said, everyone who is important to me is pretty cool with this.
Heather C.
May. 18th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Ahem. I have been *privileged* to know you for a long time. You're a really good person.
May. 12th, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
The "growing up" one was interesting. I believe I may have grown down. I was super career focused and responsible in my 20's.
May. 12th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Growing down. I like that expression. So what are you going to be like in twenty years?
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )