LIFE || Great Expectations

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You know how old people say that the older they get the more they have to attend funerals? Well, at the ripe YOUNG age of 26 the oldermore mature I get the more my Facebook timeline is filled with engagement announcements, baby scans, babies who have been out of the womb for 5 seconds and therefore covered in uterus gunge, wedding photos and one or two domestic fuelled status’ that deserve to be the talking point for Jeremy Kyle.

For those amongst us with specific “life plans” set out, the sheer thought of being single at 26 is enough to send them into a spiral of self pity and lead them to log onto www.findmeareadymadehusband.com* clutching a credit card and deciding on the credentials they want for their future hubby and baby daddy to be. “I WILL HAVE A HUSBAND BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE”

There’s a certain unspoken expectation to live life according to what “they say” (whoever “they are”) Go to school, to college, to uni, find a boy, settle down, if you want you can marry (sorry, slipped into a Boyzone song then), have children, grow old, die in bed with your husband like on The Notebook. Perfect scenario, right?   One of the board games I would play as a youngster was called “Game of Life” which was originally created in 1860.  The aim of the game was travel through life with the winner being the one with the most money, the wife/husband and the most kids.  Talk about encouraging competitive breeding.

All too often I’m faced with exasperated tweets or conversations with people approaching a certain age who aren’t on track for this “ideal” and they’re actually panicking. Ever heard of panic 100 tins of beans, 300 toilet rolls and multipacks of crisps just incase there were to be some kind of reason to batten down the hatches and retreat to ones underground bunker? Well, I have a friend who used to panic buy “relationship” items. From the age of 19 she began buying homeware items for when she moved in a house with her boyfriend. She had cutlery sets, tea towels, plates, pegs, spatulas, bedding and what not hoarded under her bed ready for moving day… only she wasn’t moving in, she didn’t even have a boyfriend. There’s a wedding equivalent of this where there are women amongst us who have their wedding day planned down to the flattering wedding cake toppe. They have the perfect venue in mind, the type of cake, the first dance, the dress… all they’re missing is the groom. Teensy minute detail. It’s expectation is turning perfectly normal girls into bunny boiling dreamers who are living a life of what “should be” instead of what is right now. Thus, forgoing the fly by the seat of your pants happiness that a life of the unexpected can bring.

At the age of 20 I found myself in a long term relationship and partaking in all of the things that is expected when it comes to “settling down”. I fell foul of the “expectations by certain ages” lark and by 23/24 I was well on course for the house, marriage, a child, a white picket fence, 2 point 4 style holidays and trips to B&Q at the weekend. At the time that was what I wanted and to an extent I won’t regret it, I was content in that life.

Fastfoward 4 years and chuck in a bit of (I know it sounds a bit “new agey” but lets go with this description) “self discovery”, my situation has completely changed. I’m now the Stoke-on-Trent version of Bridget Jones crossed with Carrie Bradshaw (lets face it, Bridget didn’t really have the best wardrobe did she?).  I’m more than content with the situation I’m in now with massive opportunities without so much of  a glimmer of a diamond ring or the pitter patter of tiny feet in my forseeable future.  But it appears that there are many people who aren’t. Those announcing their engagements or posting their baby scans on FB recoil almost in horror when I tell them I’m now single AND I LIKE IT.  “But don’t you wan’t children/marriage?” I get asked, as though because I’m 26 and I’ve not signed up to either of these groups I’ve well and truly held up my arms in surrender and said “IM GOING TO LIVE ALONE WITH MY DOG AND DIE ALONE!  THIS IS THE END FOR ME!  GO ON WITHOUT ME!”.  I’ve seens friends hop from one serious relationship to another serious relationship because the thought of being on the shelf scares them.  But, who’s on the shelf?  I certainly aren’t.  I’m Beyonce dancing on the shelf, skydiving off the shelf, turning the shelf into my very own party pit.

It’s even scarier when I see girls of 19-22 claiming that they “need to settledown” before they get too old as though if they don’t they’re going to turn into a pumpkin like something out of Cinderella. Settling down isn’t something that is age dependent, settling down should be something that is feeling dependent and based on the moment you find someone who’s worth settling down for. The thought of “settling down” shouldn’t leave you running in the opposite direction of someone or leave you feeling suffocated or trapped within a situation and if that’s how you’re feeling it’s probably person dependent, not age.

With the “years of experience” behind me, if there’s one piece of advice (that I kind of stole from Sex & the City) it’s this…

Stop expecting it to look like what you thought it would look like. Instead, live in the moment, stop making plans purely because it’s what’s expected of you.

*I’m not sure this is a real website, but if you do buy a husband on there make sure I get commission

  • This was awesome to read. So true & well written. I can’t deny, I’ve fallen into the trap of worrying about “settling down” when I was 17! How crazy! You’re so right, we all just need to live for ourselves. Great post!

    x leah symonne x

    itsleli.blogspot.com

  • Zoe

    Similar to me, dated and got engaged to my childhood sweetheart then when I was 24 and about to start booking my wedding he beat me to a pulp and cheated on me. Put up with it for a few months, realised I’m worth a damn lot more than that and it’s been almost 2 years single now.
    We’ll find someone eventually, but yeah the incessant intruding questions of concerned married/parents/relatives and such are annoying as

  • Absolutely brilliant. Sums up EXACTLY how I feel right now amidst the sudden baby boom and finding friends are starting to change their names on facebook.. Bore off! I’m having far too much fun to settle down unless I meet someone who seriously sweeps me off my feet.. And sadly most of the guys I’ve met lately are fun but pretty mediocre

    Hannah xx

  • Ash

    This is such a great post. I admit I recoil in horror when my facebook feed is filled with engagements/babies. I have been with my boyfriend for nearly three years but there are no marriage/baby plans being made. Honestly the thought of either terrifies me! Life could change at any second, I don’t see the point in making massive decisions because it is expected of you. I doubt I will ever want children & I always get the “you can’t say that” or “But you have to” speech. -.-

  • I cannot agree more with you!

    I was in a relationship for 9 years, we got together when I was 18 and split up about 18 months ago.

    I thought I was going to get married to him, have kids, blah blah blah & so when we split I had this panic of “what am I going to do now?!”

    Fast forward 18 months and I’m the happiest I’ve been. I have done so much that I want to do and totally re-assessed my life.

    We weren’t right together, he cheated on me, he wasn’t actually very nice to me, we were young when we got together and it was all we’d really known. It wasn’t the healthiest of relationships.

    Yes, I wouldn’t mind a boyfriend and if he is the right person then possibly I would like to get married but I’m in no hurry at all. Do I want babies? Mehhhh I’m not that fussed. I think before my mind set was “that’s what you do”.

    I have friends who are divorced already. I kind of think I had a lucky getaway NOT getting engaged/married/having kids while I was younger!

    *Disclaimer – I do have friends who have got married/had kids and are super happy. I just don’t think (for the moment) that it’s something I’m bothered about…

  • Laila Maria Murphy

    This is a great post! I started thinking this way when I split up with my (horrid) ex at 27. Others around me didn’t help – one colleague told me that if I didn’t find another partner and get pregnant soon all my children would born disabled!!

    I am now 34, with a lovely man and though I will probably settle down and breed eventually I can honestly say I’m not in a rush. One of the hardest things you can do is live your life for yourself. Most of my new work colleagues think I am odd for not getting married right NOW but I have to learn to suck it up as I’m never going to fit in until I follow the pattern most people are scared to deviate from.

    My message is – do what you want to do, just don’t expect much support. Most people are intimidated by anyone who goes their own way.

    http://www.lailamurphy.blogspot.com

  • I’m in a very happy relationship and live with my boyfriend but i HATE the term ‘settling down’. What actually is settling down? To me it sounds like sitting and doing nothing and being bored. Well that’s just not me. Getting married and having children shouldnt be a sign of all fun ending and losing your independence and youth. I am in a committed relationship and hope to be together for the rest of our lives but that doesn’t mean I am settling down. Settling down from what? Life? Well I am still living. People make having children, buying a house and getting married so boring; like it’s the end of the line; the nest 40 years of life all samey. But it doesn’t have to be. I dont really want children and i dont want to buy an ordinary house or get a flash car. Age shouldn’t dictate anything, do whatever you want to do and when it feels right. Don’t be a sheep. This country teaches people how to copy everyone else and makes people feel pressured into doing the ‘norm’. Only do it if that makes you happy.
    Jenni x

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