“Honey, I just want you to be happy” are some of the most loaded words we single women in our 20s/30s can hear. What the words impart is a loving and generous sentiment -- concern for our welfare. What they imply is something quite different.
Namely, that we are not happy status quo. That there is something “else” that would make us truly happy. That the happiness, achievement or wholeness we feel now may be lovely, but it is nothing compared to the happiness, etc. we will feel once married.
I heard these words recently when speaking with a family friend who is much like an aunt to me. A few weeks ago, I realized an achievement with my blog, MartiniRescueSquad.com, that I consider a big deal. No one else has to think it’s as enormous as I do, but I was excited.
My aunt e-mailed 70 of her closest friends about the achievement. As various people replied to her with congratulations and encouragement, my aunt forwarded me each message.
One of those came from a mutual family friend Lucy, who lives back east. “I love you, Paige!” she wrote, and added that she wanted to catch up the following week, when she’d be staying with my aunt and her husband. I replied that I would love to have them all over for dinner -- Aunt Janie, Uncle Gil and Lucy. Although I'm not a cook, I can handle that number.
That Thursday, two days before Lucy arrived, my aunt called me breathless, “Paige, Honey, this is extremely important - are you going to invite Lee and Annette to your dinner for Lucy next week?”
Lee and Annette are a married couple about my age, and they come from the same town as Lucy.
“No, Janie, I had not planned on it, but I will if you think Lucy would like that.”
“Oh, Honey, it’s very important that you let me know right away. Our neighbors want to have Lee and Annette for a barbeque they want to throw for Lucy and would be mortified to have the three of them attend two of the same parties in the same week.”
I’ve heard of many traditions and mores in my lifetime, but have never heard of that one. On the contrary, in any group of friends and neighbors, I have been at the same parties with the same people within the same week many times.
“That’s fine, Janie, tell your neighbor to go ahead and invite them. I will invite them the next time Lucy comes to town.”
“No, Honey, I don’t think you understand…our neighbor wants you to have first dibs on inviting Lee and Annette, but would be horribly embarrassed if they were at the same party with Lucy twice in the same week.”
That is absurd.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Janie, but that does not make any sense,” I said. Please tell your neighbor to invite Lee and Annette and I’ll have you, Uncle Gil and Lucy as originally planned.”
“Paige! Lee and Annette have all of those cute men they want to introduce you to! If they do not spend some time with you and get to know you better, they will probably not make any of the introductions.”
Oh, OK, so I see where this is going. It’s not about how tacky it would be to have the same three people at two parties in one week, it’s about marrying me off as quickly as possible.
“Honey, I just want you to be happy.”
“I AM happy, Aunt Janie.”
“I know…but I just want you to be really happy…Oh, and our neighbors want to know if you will come to the barbeque as well. The Saunders will be there with their cute son.”
So there it is -- the driving force behind this whole back-and-forth was finding a mate for me, i.e. changing my lifestyle so I will finally achieve legitimacy and the happiness that comes with marriage.
Finding the right man and starting a family with him is a top priority for me. When the time is right. I put myself out there, date a fair amount and am blessed with a rather varied cross-section of friends. I don’t sit at home and mope.
However, I’m not sure it’s healthy to base every choice I make in life - down to whom I invite for a small dinner - on the likelihood that it will lead to me meeting Mr. Right.
It seems a lot of us confront such messages and doubts as Aunt Janie’s. The truth is, our happiness is really ours to determine. If we are happy as we are, we don’t have to let anyone else’s concerns delegitimize our lifestyle choices. If we’re not happy with things as they are, we’re in the perfect position to change them.
Paige Nesbitt is a Los Angeles native, an author and a blogger. Her blog www.martinirescuesquad.com is based on her manuscript, Martini Rescue Squad, A Peer Expert's Guide to Being a Single Woman in Her Twenties or Thirties and Loving It. Nesbitt has a Bachelor’s in Theater and French from Vanderbilt University and an MBA in Finance from Pepperdine University.
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