Life Right Now: M in the Midwest

Wednesday, April 22, 2015



I'm starting a series called Life Right Now, where I ask women like me to talk about what is surprising and unexpected about their lives right now. 

First up, M, who lives in a big Midwestern city: 

When I was a little girl, my main goal in life was to fall in love and be married to an adorable husband, live in a foreign country with my husband and have at least 3 children. Ha! By my mid 20s, I knew that was wishful thinking, so I reassessed. Around that time, when I pictured my life later down the road, it seemed more accurate that by my 30s I’d remain in the rural town I grew up in, be married to a man who also grew up there or nearby and we’d be raising obedient, godly children.

Now I’m in my 30s and none of those things are a major part of my life. I moved to a big city, got a good job, am back in school, single and not dating, with no children.

On freedom  

It’s surprising to say the least. This unexpected life is scary and at times lonely. I get lonely for my family. I used to get lonely for my old friends. But this period of my life has also been incredibly freeing. I don’t feel constricted to be someone or act a certain way or believe in certain things the way I did when I was younger. My only pressures are to make sure I’m being fiscally responsible, limit gossip at my job, and to turn in my assignments completed and on time.

On self-care

Another pleasant surprise is that I’ve gotten to explore new hobbies. I’ve taken writing classes at the local literary center and I’m currently taking drawing and painting lessons. I focused on changing to a healthier diet a few years ago and have lost a good amount of weight. I want to expand on this because this was a profound change in my life. I discovered how strong I am. I don’t know that I would have ever been able to accept the challenge of overcoming food issues had I been in a partnership, especially if that person kept eating pizza around me. The seclusion I had to create for myself in order to eat healthy would have been really hard to create if I had a family that I had to share meals with.

Because I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence, I also gained new interests in things I didn’t before, like makeup and fashion. I know that may sound shallow, but I never used to think I was worth the effort.



On banishing insecurities

This new confidence is a light shining into the shadows of insecurities that I face often in my singleness. My confidence tells me that I don’t need a husband to take out the trash because I am capable of taking out my own damn trash, thank you very much (not that taking out the trash is the only things husbands are good for). You see, I need this confidence if I’m to live the next few years of my life alone. I need to know that I’m capable, that I don’t have to depend on anyone to take care of me because I can take care of myself. I have to take care of myself. That is my reality. This is the truth I currently face. And it’s freeing.

On joy

I find joy in this freedom. Freedom to be myself and enjoy the things I enjoy, to discover more things to enjoy. As I’ve gotten older, I find joy in simple things like going on walks, sunny weather, good food, and a good line in a book. I sit around my apartment in only my robe while drinking old coffee and binge watching whatever I want on Netflix as a light breeze flows through the open window.

On rediscovering laughter

Laughter has also been something I’m rediscovering; there was a long period of time in my 20s when I didn’t laugh very much. Maybe it’s because I don’t take life as seriously as I did in my 20s. When I started laughing again, it felt strange and familiar at the same time, like seeing a childhood friend for the first time as an adult.

On letting go of expectations

As a single woman, letting go of my expectations has been very hard. After understanding the amount of expectations and hopes that have been set aside due to the reality of my current situation, I’ve tried not to become disillusioned with life. I used to get so disappointed; disappointed in other people, disappointed in myself, disappointed in the direction of my life, disappointed in the choices I made and how they eventually caught up to me. But now, I’m trying to move past that. I don’t want to disregard those disappointments as I think they are valid, but I try not to let them keep me from enjoying today. If I’ve learned anything in my 30s, it’s that I’m not “getting any younger.” I want to appreciate the wisdom age has given me. But it can still be very hard to exchange old expectations for hard-earned wisdom.

On dealing with anxiety

Those 3am fears and insecurities, oh, I definitely have them. In fact, I think the past few months have been some of the most anxiety filled months of my life.  I’m even seeing an acupuncturist to help me deal with some of my anxiety. While I think the anxiety has more to do with my job and school, I’ve thought how if I were married, would I have the same issues? Or would it be better because I would have someone to talk to when the occasional late night panic attacks start? Would I spiral as much if I knew that there was an extra layer of financial security that comes with the extra income of a spouse? Maybe, maybe not.

On the horrendousness that is dating

Then there’s the actual reality of being single. As an introvert, I find dating a horrific idea: the pressure of a job interview with the extra layer of having to look desirable. No thanks. I don’t have the patience or the time to spend with someone I don’t really know.
As I’ve gotten older, I feel the tension between not wanting to settle for just anyone and the need to lower my expectations. There’s a part of me that is ready to love and there is another part of me that doesn’t believe it will ever happen. “All the good ones are taken!” or, “He’s too young” doesn’t seem like such a cliché.

On rediscovering desire

I have found myself doing things I never thought I would do, like exchange flirtations with a married coworker, wanting more, even though it’s morally wrong and I would never act on it. It’s the excitement that there is someone who makes me feel again, when I believed those feelings in me had been buried so deep I would never find them again. It’s the desperation I don’t want to acknowledge, because I’m a strong independent lady, right? And then there’s the human element of just wanting to be desired and loved. Because there is still a part of me, the little girl who believed that her main goal in life was to fall in love, that is still there, kicking and screaming and won’t shut up, no matter how much I tell her she is capable and strong. 

On self-discovery

My singleness has allowed me to embark on a journey of self-discovery, where I’ve seen myself shine the brightest and seen the shadows that lurk in the dark corners of my heart. I have to face myself over and over, no matter how much I want to avoid my own presence and I’m finding that… I like myself. And despite the disappointments and anxious nights, I’m glad that I’ve gotten to know who I am and what I am capable of. Who knows what I’ll be writing in my 40s? So in the words of Rihanna, “Ain't got no time for no haters, just live your life.”



Thank you, M!



Photos: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

3 comments:

  1. i LOVED this interview!
    thank you dear Anna for inviting M
    and
    thank you M for sharing with us!!


    Vibeke

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    Replies
    1. One of my favorite parts of this interview is when M talks about rediscovering laughter as an adult, describing it as re-meeting a childhood friend. So poignant.

      I am so glad you're reading, Vibeke!

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    2. that part of the interview is my favorite!: )

      Delete

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