BY Laura B
I am a 31-year-old woman. I have gained success in my career and I have a wonderful circle of friends and family. I’m in good health, adventurous, well travelled and intelligent. I have learned about myself, my good and not so good points, and I like myself. I am funny, witty and a social butterfly. I must say, I’m pretty great! So, why do two harmless little words send me reeling with fear and make me question myself? Those two words…“AND GUEST.”
My cousin and his wife will soon celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. We’re a close family, so we meet up on these joyous occasions and celebrate with food, drink, music and lots of fun. I received my invite recently, and there were those words… “To Laura… and guest.”
Having been ceremoniously dumped earlier this year (ask me, I’ll be happy to tell you the tragic tale) I have been flying solo and enjoying my single status. I date, I socialise and I like it. However, being single and 31 at these events sends a specific fear through me. It’s a similar feeling I get when I log onto facebook and see another old-school friend is pregnant or getting married while my life doesn’t so obviously grow. I hear that clock ticking in the background; it’s getting louder.
Over the past few years my friends have married and had babies and I’ve been ecstatic for them. I have happily watched them exchange vows and flourish in pregnancy. But, there has been a tiny little part of me that feels sad; it whispers, “Why not me? Why have I not worn that white dress? Why has my belly not bloomed with a growing baby inside?” The words “and guest” remind me that it hasn’t been me. While everyone else around me has been through these life experiences, at the times we’re all expected to go through them, I have not. Why not?
After much thinking, I don’t have an answer. I know a catch, but I can’t speculate on things I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll get married or have children. I want to, but it’s not happening right now. Society’s ideals say, that I SHOULD be going through these experiences now. But honestly, “society’s ideals” and “should” are the words I need to fear. Not “and guest.”
In my quest to fill the “and guest” void, I decided to seek council from a friend in a similar predicament. We spoke frankly about being single at our age. It’s hard and sometimes lonely. She told me how she’d booked a hotel on her own for a similar function, and commented that it was liberating. I thought about her choice of word, liberating. Feeling free from restrictions. I made a choice to be free. “And guest” can’t scare me, nor can another’s relationship, life or facebook statuses, and nor will society’s ideals. I know that attending my family function alone, I’ll have a perfect weekend.
My friend is right, going to these events and appreciating who I am, rather than being frightened by what I do not have, is liberating. Being free from my self-nagging doubts and denying those social restraints, allows me to have a lovely time. Maybe one day I’ll have an “and guest,” and maybe I won’t. Either way, I know I am still pretty great.