Sometimes it feels unbearable being a woman. We have to keep grooming ourselves from head to toe with never-ending and live-adding tasks (30 years ago no one did brazilian wax but now it’s a regular appointment everywhere in the world, on top of having smooth heels, satin-feel calves, non-cellulite ballerina bump, a six-pack tummy, golden-color skin, heavy-but-bare-look make ups, and hair color that changes at least 4 times a year according to the earth season), to keep up with trends (the hottest clubs, the newest gym, the hottest celebrity gossips, the it color, the most talked about movies/soaps), to watch our figure (hence the newest gym or diet method), must be successful at work but can’t show it in case it will intimidate men (so no tears because it will show weakness rather than a compassion, no yelling because it will show temper tantrum rather than knowing what we want), and be a good girlfriend/wife/mother (which means we must be a great cook, a nice hostess for parties, and a slut in bed altogether).
The ideal life journey map manual (finish college–>find a boyfriend–>find a husband–>make babies–>and live happily ever after) that is printed to every woman is so strongly stick to our head we sometimes don’t see that we are overwhelmed by all of those. We put so much burden onto our CV I can’t understand why we keep doing it to ourselves. Aren’t everything at the moment enough? Isn’t time to stop trying to accomplish more and enjoy what we have?
When we are single, people keep nagging us with questions like ‘why are you still single’, ‘let me set you up with my friend/cousin/brother/father’, ‘are you too fussy/successful/busy so men are afraid of you?’, or even ‘what’s wrong with you?’ and ‘tick, tock, your biological clock is ticking’. But there is no more offensive comment like ‘come on, get yourself a man and settle down…. like me‘. It’s like being single is a sin and whoever commits to it will go straight to hell, and whoever lands in a coupleland is better than the singletons. I have read comments like that in my friends’ Friendster and I couldn’t understand why my friends let their friends say things like that, in public. Me, I’d just delete the person from my comment and friend list altogether.
And then we finally meet someone. We date, we go to dinner and movies, parties, we introduce him/her to friends and family (and it’s best if they approve), we basically try to get to know each other better. Soon we take him/her to weddings, and suddenly people ask ‘when are you two getting hitched?’ or ‘what are you guys waiting for? you’re not getting younger’, without even care that we probably even are not sure whether the relationship will last until next month. And then the final remarks: ‘come on, get married soon,…. like me‘. I think the worst example would be Ecky, who was asked in front of 2000 guests at one of our friend’s wedding by the MC that if she and her boyfriend will follow our friend’s step to settle down. Gosh, I didn’t know what went through her mind at that moment. If it’s me, I’ll just throw pies to the MC and ask them to mind their own businesses.
And we finally decide that he is the one we want to spend the rest of our life with, and we get married. We think the question will stop, but nooooo! Soon after we say “I Do” people will be ready asking questions about, what else, babies. If there are several women getting married at the same period of time, some even think it’s fun to make a virtual race between newlyweds, who gets pregnant first. Seriously, I’ve seen the comments like this in my and my friends’ Friendster. Some just simply ask ‘when are you going to have babies’, with additional remarks, ‘just like me?’. Like if we don’t have one, we are not complete and what the purpose of getting married if not to pass your last name to others. Like if we don’t want one at the moment, we are a complete freak. Like if we do get pregnant, it’s our another accomplishment and not a gift from God, and if we don’t fall pregnant rightaway, for Godsake, go make an urgent appointment with your OBGYN doctor.
When we finally pop one, they will ask ‘do you want another one?’ or ‘when are you going to give brother/sister to your first one?’. When our children are old enough to be kicked out of the house, the questions will be something like ‘where does s/he work?’, ‘how much money s/he makes’, ‘does s/he have a boyfriend/girlfriend? (hopefully a famous one)’. The journey continues. I believe my grandma still races against other grandmas regarding how many grandkids she has or who has great grandchildren more than others.
Mind you, all of those things I experience between women. Women tend to be more vicious and put higher ‘standards’ amongst themselves. And if we pass the bar, there is another level of accomplishment we yet to achieve. It feels that we are racing (against what? against whom? for what?).
WHY? Why do we think our life is better than others? Why do we think that there is no other way of living rather than finish college–>married–>making babies, altogether before 30s?
I’m lucky because my parents never ask me personal questions like when I am getting married and when I want children. But they are not normal, considering other Indonesian parents are so cruel to their children and keep nagging them with endless and pushy questions. The only thing my mother ever complaint was that she wishes I had a more normal life just like my friends from high school. But it’s more about where I would be rather than what I would be, since I left home at 18 and have never lived with them since and keep moving further from them (for consolation I told that among 4 of us best friends in high school: Grace, Maggie, Desieree and me, none of us lives in Indonesia, except me for a while). When my then boyfriend was about to propose to me, rather than jumping with joy like other parents, my mum just asked me gently, “are you sure?” (I should’ve known better. Folks, never argue with your mom, ever, period). Even when were told about my plan to move to Aberdeen they were more concerned with my job rather than when we will get married. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t get questions from other family members and friends. There was one time I took Stuart to my cousin wedding, who got married to a German and threw a posh party with a lot of guests. Soon we were cornered by several aunties, and mercilessly they started firing questions like ‘when are you two getting married?’ (Stuart answered, “Err.. I don’t know, 2010, maybe?”, and let them gasped and looked horrified), ‘Get married soon, and order the invites and souvenirs from me, I’ll give you big discounts’, and ‘Have a honeymoon in our resort. It’s very beautiful, you know’. I was never more embarrassed and my headache got bigger every minute. I thought, that’s it, Stuart will break up with me right away because my family is crazy!
So I guess I want to say to other women to stop feeling better than others. Just because you are married/having babies, it doesn’t mean that everybody is drooling and wants the same thing. Just because you are single, it doesn’t mean that people are not jealous of your independence and your rights to change partners until you meet the one (that if you believe in the theory). Just because you’re a mother, it doesn’t mean that others who don’t have children don’t deal with their own real problems every single day. Just because you don’t want a kid in your 30s, it doesn’t mean you’re an evil woman whose life isn’t complete.
Everyone has their own journey map. We have to respect what others do in their life at the moment. Your map is designed exclusively for you. Stop trying putting your map into others’ life.
Stop the race.