“Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I heard this quote for the first time in a Beyoncé song, but haven’t we all? For some reason, it stuck with me. It stuck with me, and it rang through my head over and over and over like the bells on Century Tower because the unfairness of it all hit me straight in the face all at once.
I feel like maybe some time ago, I may have considered the traditional route. I vaguely remember wondering if I would like wearing a fluffy white dress and getting married, starting a family, being a mom. But just like those checkerboard Vans I bought last summer, no matter how much I tried to make it fit, it wouldn’t—and I knew it.
When I was fifteen years old and I told my friend’s mother that I didn’t ever want children, she laughed and said it was something I would grow out of. When I told my friends that I couldn’t ever picture myself walking down some elaborately decorated aisle on my dad’s arm, they were incredulous.
“You’ll change your mind.”
“Every girl wants to get married.”
“Motherhood is the best job in the entire world! Why wouldn’t you want to be a mom?”
Yet, here I am. Twenty-two.
Let me first say that I mean no disrespect for those who do want marriage, who want children. My mom did it, and the amount of respect and admiration I have for her could move mountains. But it isn’t for me.
To be completely frank, I am tired. I’m tired of being made to feel like a teenager on the brink of some rebellion as opposed to a woman who has completely valid opinions and a different plan for her life. I know that there are some people out there who, when they think of their futures, see a beautiful home, a wonderful spouse, maybe a child or two. No matter how many times I have imagined what my life will be like in the future, one thing remains consistent – I don’t want to be married. I do not want children.
I’ll be honest and admit that I consider myself a super selfish person. I tell my friends to always “put yourself first” because it’s exactly what I do every day of my life. I joke to people that I am the love of my own life, when I secretly do feel that way sometimes. For one reason or another, I just never felt as though my personality and outlook on life meshed very well with the requirements of a parent or a wife.
When I voice these thoughts, at least one person always says: “But you have a boyfriend! Why are you dating if you don’t want to be married?”
To be honest? It’s literally none of your business. I have a boyfriend. We love each other. There’s not much you need to know, and there’s not really any reason that I should have to explain myself to you. People are often quick to assume that I am abandoning some of my “duties as a woman,” or that I must hate women who choose to marry or have children. And none of that is true. First of all, my “duties as a woman” are to seek success and joy in every aspect of my life, to uplift myself and love others with every fiber of my being. Secondly, marriage is a choice. Motherhood is a choice. And finally, like I’ve said previously, I respect those who feel differently about life than I do, and I support those in my life who choose paths that may be different from my own. Isn’t that the whole point of feminism? To uplift other women, to support other women?
Motherhood and marriage may not be my forte. I may want different things in life than what most people assume—but maybe the key is to stop assuming. Maybe the key is to spend less time being judgmental and more time having an open mind.