Sunday, October 9, 2011

Questions

In the course of changing paths in my life, I have met lots of new people and have encountered some of the same questions time and time again.  I'm not complaining in the slightest--I actually really enjoy meeting new people, learning about them and of course if they ask me about myself that is all part of the process, right?  I do find it interesting that I get a lot of the same questions and reactions to my responses over and over again.

For me, it almost becomes a study in human nature.  I expect the responses and if I were in their shoes I'm sure I would do the same thing.  As a sort of an "outsider," though, I get an unusual perspective and this allows me to not be surprised by the reactions of others as much as it allows me to study and analyze them.

It's just the geek in me, I suppose.

Here's how the Q&A usually goes:

Them: "So Jessie, how many kids do you have?"
Me: "None."
Them: "Did you say...'None?!'"
Me: "Yep," I say nonchalantly with a smile.
Them: "But...uh....what are you...like...in your thirties?!"
Me: "Yes, I'm 36."
Them: "Oh, you don't like kids?"
Me: "No, I like kids."
Them: "So...uh...why don't you have any?"
Me: "I just never found myself in a place in my life where I felt I was responsible enough to care for another human being."
Them: "Oh.  Are you married?"
Me: "Divorced."
Them: "So are you with anyone?"
Me: "Nope, just me."

Awkward silence.  Crickets chirping in the background....

This is how I imagine they think I must feel. 

I can understand to someone who has several kids, a spouse/significant other, etc that it would seem very odd for someone to live by themselves and probably completely foreign to them that a person could be very content to do so.  I suppose I could easily be psychoanalyzed and a conclusion could be drawn that because of previous bad experiences I am afraid to set myself up for any more emotional pain, that I'm distrusting of others, or that I'm a control freak and bringing more people into the mix in the form of a significant other and/or children would throw my OCD out of whack.

Or, one could just say, that I am perfectly content being the captain and crew of my own ship for the time being.  If that changes, then that's just dandy, but I'm just not into trolling the shores desperately searching for a crew.  Shiver me timbers, you know?

I honestly don't know what the answer is.  I just know that I feel like I'm not in any hurry at all to have kids.  If it ends up being "too late," that's ok by me.  If something changes in my life that I do get to have a child then that would be fine, too.  The way I see it, I have many more basic things to worry myself over at the moment--changing careers, building my home, becoming financially stable.  A lot would have to come together for me to justify caring for another human being in any capacity.  Struggling is difficult enough when you're on your own, but being in this situation with a family--well, that would be truly devastating.

Perhaps it is my lack of a sense of urgency that is unsettling to many people.  I hear this a lot: "Aren't you afraid to die alone?"  Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but everyone dies alone.  There's no great leap into the clouds, hand-in-hand.  Even the people who I have been close to when they died passed away when no one was in the room.  Honestly, even if we were there, I'm not sure if they would have even known.  For the animals I have had to put down, I am not sure if their death was any "easier" being close to someone who cared about them.  Death is an ugly, difficult thing.  Unfortunately there's just no getting around that part, but what we can change is everything we do with our lives up until that point.

We're born alone.  We die alone.  It is what we do in between that really matters.

If my "in between" doesn't include reproducing, I'm not sure that it means that my life was incomplete.  I know there is a lot of joy that people derive from their families, but there is a lot of heartache as well.  I have friends with kids and friends without kids and I cannot honestly say that one group has a better life than the other, in either case.  There are both happy and unhappy people in both groups.  What I see, that separates the "full lives" from the others, is their willingness to LIVE their lives, no matter who they are with.  The ones that embrace their lives, that do what they can to experience the things that they love, seem to be the happiest people I know.  The ones that don't make excuses, that love themselves, that purposefully seek out ways to have fun--just plain old fun--are the ones that have the fullest lives.

I'm not sure what the future holds for me. I used to think I could plan out the path ahead of me but now I know it is futile. All I can do is do my best each day, be thankful for what I have, and hope for the best.

Oh, and have fun.  Have lots...of...fun!
~J

5 comments:

Annette said...

The important thing is to be happy with yourself and the life you have. I never particularly cared about having kids but somehow ended up with them -- and a divorce -- anyway. I have friends with no kids who are perfectly happy. I could have been too. If I weren't with Brett, I would be by myself. And I would be content. I'm a solitary soul by nature -- he's the only person who fit comfortably with who I am. So, I say, pursue your new career, remodel your very cool house, love your animals and love your life.

smazourek said...

People don't ask me that question much, maybe because I'm in NY and procreation isn't such a big deal up here.

I do have a response if somebody asks me that in a way I feel is rude. I'll just touch my hand to my abdomen and say, "because I can't," while looking away all depressed. (for the record I have no idea if I can or not, I've never tried to get pregnant)

If they're rude enough to ask a personal question then I don't feel bad about making them feel awkward about it.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I'm right there with you sister!

Not ruling out that the right partner will come along, but neither am I centering my life around pursuing them.

I've noticed that often, the (married) folks who seem most disturbed by my solitary life, also spend a considerable amount of time complaining about their marriages...

And I take exception to the very common attitude that if you haven't fulfilled your biological imperative you are not complete. Reproduction should in my opinion be a very intentional act.

Keep up the good work! :)

Nicole said...

I'm 27 and get strange looks when people hear I've only been married for 1 year and that I don't have any kids (but I have a step-daughter, but I didn't birth her so she isn't "mine"). I sometimes feel like I'm getting to old to have kids based off when everyone else has kids in their life b/c most people have at least 1 by the time they are my age... and you know what... I might be 28 now.... I forget....

MTWaggin said...

Just found your blog (linked from Aspen Meadows) and read this post nodding my head in agreement. Nicely written!