Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer of My (Joyous) Discontent

This being the 31st, I am gladly waving good-bye to August and to summer. It's not that I haven't enjoyed my summer at all, it's just felt like more of a transitional time to me the past several years because summer has always been when I move or relocate. Summer has felt restless.

End of summer also signals the significant slow-down of wedding season.

Emailing my RSVP for SR's wedding rehearsal dinner a few weeks ago, I tried to word it to sound non- depressing, but somewhere in the short email I had to convey that I would not be opting for the "and guest" portion of my invitation.

"I won't be bringing a date- it's just me!"

Never has there been a less enthusiastic use of an exclamation point.

I doubt that I will ever bring a date to a wedding, unless: a.) it's someone I am actually dating and comfortable with asking that of him and I'm positive that it does not coincide with an important sporting event, or b.) in finding that I am the only one of my friends not in a relationship and seriously need a plus one. Luckily, I don't have to worry about that yet.

Operative word being yet

As a result of my friends marrying loving and wonderful guys, I find it hard not to look around at the increasing number of husbands showing up to social events with my friends (their wives), and hear myself think: "I want one too!"

Part of me loves this stage of my life. I like the freedom I enjoy with my schedule and my budget (or lack thereof). I am figuring out the real world for myself. I got to live in New York, I work with good people, I live near my family, I have hilarious roommates in a cute little rental house with a dog who LOVES IT when one of us walks in the door and I am in a Community Group with new and old friends who encourage me in my faith. Life is great.

And yet.

And yet marriage seems to be where real adult life happens. Sometimes, as a Single, you feel like you are still in your track suit, warming up for a big race; stretching your quads and doing jumping jacks in your Adidas gear while others were somehow afforded an inexplicable head-start. Marriage grounds people, makes them more established with the house thing, the kid thing, the 30-isn't-actually-that-far-away thing in general. And you know what the great part is? They get to do all of it with the person they love most in the world.

I look at my married friends and I'm envious of the pair; the team dynamic. I'm not delusional enough to think that marriage is all love letters and weekend getaways- I know that you have to work for what you have and that, like anything else, you have good days and not so good days. The better and the worse.

I feel like it's normal to want that, right? Something in me is annoyed with myself for admitting it, because I'm at a place in life where dating someone you actually like, who actually likes you back is an audacious enough aspiration in itself; making marriage seem distant, unattainable and something everyone else gets to do.   

And yet.

And yet in the midst of feeling discontented, I try to look at what God could be teaching me through this. Patience? Peace? Gentleness? Joy? Joy has taken on a new meaning to me because I spent a great deal of my discontented summer searching for it constantly. Joy is not found in perfectionism. Joy is not found in things. Joy IS found when spending time with my family, realizing for the thousandth time that I could not possibly ask for better friends, focusing on the things I do well and finding satisfaction in my relationship with God as opposed to seeking it in a relationship with another person.

At the end of the day, I know that I often forget I am a mere 24-years-old, a whippersnapper by most calculations, and I'll probably look back on this phase of my life and realize that I didn't always appreciate it enough for what it was. After work today I got to go to the gym without needing to be home at a certain time, I cooked a late dinner; a new recipe I had been eyeing, I got to sample all four of the different flavors of sherbet that MG brought home and then finished my second novel of the week undisturbed on the couch. Everything was at my leisure; my whim. I feel certain that many moms of toddlers would have killed for a night like mine.

Watching friends get married makes you realize that from now on, timing is not the same. Whereas everything was on the same clock for the first 22 years of life, it doesn't work that way any more, but it's actually okay. You embrace it. It's just important to see that there's also nothing holding you back. Not marital status, not a job or school or geographical location or anything else.
Nothing is holding me back, either.

Scatter joy.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson 


Piper Jacquelyn said...

Most of my friends are married or in the process thereof...I am not. I have been w. my bf for 3 years, but that is all I can say about that, ha.

I think you're right about the timing/everyone moving along the same for the first part of our lives...things certainly change & as the person who hasn't been married, it's super fascinating to watch it all happen!

Andhari said...

hmmm although I can't say I feel the same way, I do know what you mean. Some of my friends are like that also, and we're all just about to turn 22. I think it's just how your surrounding is, do you think if you still live in New York you might appreciate your singledom more? I think I haven't thought of that for living in similar huge city where all the fun material shallow things and full social schedule still excite me but correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm sure it only takes time, and you'll find yourself a fabulous husband too :)

But call me Carrie. said...

I love this post! As a dating-but-not-engaged/married girl myself, it is nice to see that you are so grounded about your singledom! I bought a house with my bf and, although we aren't married, it is SUCH an adjustment. I am definitely envious of my single friends at times since you really lose that complete sense of independence once you become serious with a guy. I have friends who are CONSTANTLY on the lookout for a husband and it totally drives me crazy. I want to scream and say ENJOY the freedom while you have it! We are 24! Again, it is so nice to read your post - I am going to share it with my friends :)
Keep on truckin girlfriend!!!

Bluebelle said...

I consider myself crazily blessed that I am married but I feel this way about different things - everyone else is getting the headstart on their career/travelling/doing exciting and independent things. I love being married and wouldn't change it for the world, I know it is completely and totally what God wants for me right now - and I'm sure the same is true of you being single. And just because its good to end on a cliche I'm sure the right man will appear when you're least expecting him. Enjoy it 'til he does! :)

tootie said...

For a long time, I was one of the only people in my circle of friends that wasn't married/engaged, so I know how you feel.

I bet you will find your future husband sooner than you think! In the meantime, enjoy being single!