Dating Diaries: Life is a Race and I Feel Like I’m Losingby Nikki Metzgar on March 28, 2012
Editor’s note: In case you missed them, catch up on Nikki’s previous Dating Diaries posts here.
One of my college roommates is pregnant. She only got married last June and now she’s pregnant. We had been at a coffee shop catching up for almost an hour before she broke in with the news. I swear to god my ensuing scream wasn’t one of horror, just surprise.
She is going to have a badass baby and I know I’m going to love his little cheeks off, but when we parted ways that day my strongest impulse was to walk into the middle of a field, lie down in the grass and stay there until either the sun came up or my life was fixed, whichever came first. She and I could not be at more different life stages and yet we are the same age (25). Starting this summer, she’s going to be responsible for a baby, then a toddler, then a teenager — a whole other human life, forever.
I distinctly remember arriving at the coffee shop thinking, “Man, my hair is dirty. When is the last time I bathed?” I am a 25-year old single girl, who can’t cook and doesn’t want to, and spent the majority of the past two years as an underemployed writer. Upon getting a cat, I found the duties so overwhelming that it actually dissuaded me a little from ever having a child. How did I get so far behind?
It confuses me because when I ask myself, “Am I happy?”, the answer is yes. But when I compare my life to someone else’s, mine always pales and it’s always the relationship part that gets me, even though I’m not really lonely and have plenty of career ambitions to worry about.
It’s like some old lady is pointing at these pictures and saying, “Look at this. This is what you should be doing.” My mother has seriously started asking me about when I’m going to deliver her a grandchild. She’s not even 60! I’m not even 30! I feel a combination of jealousy and complete bewilderment towards married women and women with babies.
The truth is I don’t want to be married. I want to be on target, as if life works like that or something. I believe in marriage as an idea. I think it’s good for society for people to pair up and have a safety net as they get older and I also enjoy having someone to come home to and have been in love and loved it. But the last guy I dated had a tattoo of his motorcycle’s name on his arm and my last serious boyfriend was a vegan who has terrified me about the feasibility of lifestyle compromise. I have no idea what kind of man it would take for me to think, “Yes. Betting on us as a couple would be a smart move.” The more I date, the more confusing that actually gets.
Even though I don’t logically think that a person is supposed to hit certain life benchmarks at any certain time, I still feel guilty or incapable for not meeting them anyway. My friends hitting the finish lines for marriage and babies just makes me feel like I’m being dragged along before I’m ready. Oh, am I supposed to buy you this pasta drying rack for your wedding? With this invisible money that I have? What? Now what do I do for a friend with a baby? Seriously, what do I buy for her? Why is the answer not always, “Let me buy you a beer?”
I try to tell myself not to have low self-esteem about not having made the same choices as other people. What’s right for someone else is not necessarily what’s right for me. But the doubts creep in there. What if I never find another person to fall in love with? What if it’s too late by the time I figure it out? What if my friends all get married and don’t relate to me anymore? What if they start to think that I’m “that girl,” that single girl that couldn’t hold it down?
Related: This is NOT Why You’re Single
Being a rebel is harder than the movies make it look. Even when you’re living by your own standards, other people’s measures of success are still very powerful. But in the bastardized words of Mitch Hedburg, I’m sick of chasing my future husband, man. I’m just gonna ask him where he’s going and hook up with him later.