This afternoon I went to a baby shower for one of my best friends since middle school, Marianne. Her due date is on my birthday (December 22nd) and she’s just glowing with the radiance of impending motherhood. She’s having a boy, and she and her husband are going to name him Jordan, which is ironic because my parents were going to name me Jordan if I had been a boy. I sense an already-cemented cosmic connection between me and this little man.
I was mildly to moderately apprehensive about going to this baby shower because I knew who was going to be there, and knew that I would probably be the black sheep among the flock of engaged girls and married mothers. A lot of the girls that were at the baby shower were girls that I had small group with in high school, so I’ve known them for a really long time and they’re all pretty close to my age. I think my apprehension was rooted in the fact that we’re all about the same age and that they’re all married or about to be married, and some even have little human carbon copies of themselves walking around and talking all over the place. I thought I would feel depressed or left out, or like they were judging me because they all have similar lives and I don’t have the wonderful, beautiful thing that they have, namely husbands and babies. Let’s just say I smoked a lot of cigarettes while I was driving over there in an attempt to calm myself.
But what going to this baby shower made me realize is that I’m so lucky for the life I have, and so grateful for it. None of these girls got to go to college or move away from Vancouver; they all just graduated high school and worked whatever jobs they needed to until they were married and pregnant and could be full-time mommies. And I’m not saying that I feel sorry for them, or that I doubt that their lives are fulfilling or that they don’t have the exact life they want: I’m saying that that life, right now, isn’t right for me. And I think maybe that’s why I was feeling so weird about being around girls my age that have such different lives from me: when you’re trying to qualify your life in comparison to someone else’s, it’s difficult not to place more weight and importance in one and not the other. But the thing is: my life is not better than theirs, and theirs isn’t better than mine. Our lives are just different.
I could have conceivably been married by the time I was twenty or twenty-one, although I shudder to think who I could have ended up married to during that period of my life. I could have easily taken the plunge into a life that I never would have been able to walk away from, but instead, I had so many options. I was able to go to college for four years and be challenged and stretched, and to grow. College was an unbelievably invaluable experience for me because it allowed me to find myself, to find out what I believed and what I was passionate about and what I wanted out of life. I got to live in a big city and to go to South Africa and to edit a student art journal and to have an internship and to be a nomad this past summer after graduation, all of which were things that I never would have been able to do if I had gotten married and had kids at the same time these girls had. I never really thought of any of these things as options before now; it was just like, “Well, this is my life… it is what it is.”
But as David Bazan says, “It’s good to have options.” And I still have so many options! I can go to graduate school if I want to, or I can start a small business. I can travel to Iceland, or I can move across the country to a place where no one knows me. I can work hard and learn and figure out how to do some good in the world, all on my own. And I know that someday I’ll do good by getting married and having kids that I’ll raise to be polite and caring and genuine people, but it feels really liberating to know that I get to choose that life when it’s right for me, and that until then, my life is a novel waiting to be written, the plot unknown even to me but filled with boundless possibilities. Someday I will have the life that the girls at the baby shower have: a married life, a family life. And somewhere in next ten years, when I’m ready for that, I know that I’ll love every minute of it. But until then, my plan is to exhaust all of my options.