Driving in my car a couple of months ago, I found myself sitting at a red light trying to honor the commitment I made to myself to never text/FB/internet search things while driving – EVEN AT RED LIGHTS. In lieu of reflexively reaching for my phone, I stared out the window to my left.
An adorable pug walked by, dressed in a winter sweater. Awwwww. What is it with pugs in sweaters? I mean, c’mon.
Close behind, leash in hand, followed a classic Congress park-style couple. Half-skipping, half-walking behind the pug pranced an adorable bobbing girl, honey-ringlets framing her heart-shaped face. Clearly lost in her own thoughts, she awkwardly helped push her parents ergonomically correct baby stroller, complete with tiny covered infant inside. Clad in Saturday-mellow, seasonally appropriate Prana activewear, I pictured their adult conversation, muted through my rolled up window, sounding something like this:
“Sven, dahhhhling, have we checked on our Fidelity investments lately? I’m anxious about the orange man with the little hands ruining everything. And we really need to decide on Harper’s summer intellectual activities. I fear she’s getting bored with Mandarin. She seems more restless this semester than the other 10-year olds.”
“Scarlett, dear, relax. I’m on it. We’re thoroughly diversified and I’ve moved us to a more risk-averse investment profile this year. And honestly, snugglebottoms, Harper is clearly too educated at this point to find languages challenging enough. Perhaps we should consider a more socio-ethno-diverse immersion activity, maybe an inner-city poverty simulation?”
A short honk from behind not-so-gently brought me back to reality. Driving away, a very familiar and insidious thought – one I’ve known for a few years now; one that takes on various iterations (often at 2 am) came to mind, echoing like a taunting voice hellbent, as it always is, on making me feel like shit. It sounds a lot like this:
Everyone is pregnant, and you’re FAILING.
Failing at what, you might ask?
Well, courtesy of my cruel, merciless, 2 am inner critic, here ya go:
You don’t own a home.
You’re not married.
You’re not even in a committed relationship.
You’re not pregnant at ALL. Let alone with #3, as you should be at your age.
You still believe that “credit card” is synonymous with “husband.” Or “investors.”
They all secretly feel sorry for you.
They all secretly pray for you, that one day, you’ll finally find your “peace.”
You should have married the last guy. Or the one before that.
Your business is going to fail.
You’re not giving enough to your clients. They’re all going to stop coming.
You’re 36 now. You should feel “old.”
You can only live like this for so long before you finally settle down.
Friends, here’s the hilarious truth in the thing: EVERYONE ACTUALLY IS PREGNANT. I mean, for serious. If you don’t want to get knocked up, don’t hang out with me. Don’t get coffee with me, don’t think about me, don’t even let me breathe on you. I’m like, the pregnancy wizard. (I mean, I know that I can’t take credit for them all, because, ya know, SEX happened, but hey. Just sayin.’ If you want a baby, I’m your gal). I’ve got mad baby juju and I secretly think that maybe my IUD is MAGIC and if you just get in its presence, it will deflect all the currently available sperm directly into your uterus, to at least a 20-feet radius.
A couple years ago, as I was in the heartbreaking process of losing a good relationship with an incredibly kind man whom I loved deeply, I had to face the hard fact of biology – and by proxy, my fertility – with sober, honest eyes. I was 34. I had watched several beloved friends struggle with fertility through their 30s and beyond. They had to be so strong, so steadfast, so unbelievably brave to keep trying like they did. Something inside of me, something deeply intuitive, knew something that my cognitive brain didn’t.
This is going to take me some time to figure out.
“This” being, the kid thing. The baby thing. The marriage thing. The do-I-even-want-those-things thing. The being-uber-honest-with-myself thing. The opposite of the shoulds thing. The grounded, knowing part of me quietly and calmly suggested to me that I consider freezing my eggs. And when we know ourselves, really know ourselves, we trust ourselves. And at this stage of life, I deeply trust myself. When I thought about freezing my eggs, I felt ecstatic. So that is exactly what I did. To this day, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life. A God-infused, miraculous story for another time. I digress.
Here’s the thing I’ve come to know about those incessant demon voices: They’re LIARS, all of them. Every single one of those thoughts are born out of one place and one place only: Fear. And I would add, as a close second, Society. Society says, who the fuck do you think you are? Who ARE you to think that as a woman, you can run a vibrant and successful business that gives you more profit and freedom than most people ever dream possible? Who are you to think that you can be complete and fulfilled and more than OK without a man? Without a baby? Even after the dreaded 35 cut off, when your vagina itself is on the very brink of death? For Chrissake, you’re advanced maternal age, woman! You’re a has-been. A didn’t-make-the-expectations-cut. Well on your way to owning too many cats, having lots of lesbian lovers, and being on the receiving end of boundless pity as you move through year after year, blowing the bulk of your savings on celebrating other people’s big moments.
Our heads are such assholes sometimes. In the last 6 months, I’ve taken to a habit of creating more ritual in my life, one of those being a morning ritual that for the most part, I let NOTHING fuck with. I mean nothing. Come hell or high water, good mood or bad mood, stressed or calm, every morning I rise by 6 am, make overpriced, delicious coffee, set myself toward the sunrise in my east-facing apartment, and get very, very still in my soul. I pray, I cry, I listen, I just be. These simple, quiet, non-eventful moments, these are my OXYGEN. I center. I re-align. I find myself coming back to myself and to God and to truth. And without fail, the truth of my heart and my mind and my thoughts and my feelings, unencumbered by all that shit, sounds like this:
I’m fucking thriving.
I’m so grateful to be single, and so grateful to be involved with good, kind men who journey with me in that.
I feel more sexually self-aware, sexually educated, and sexually satisfied than most people I know.
I’ve never felt younger than I do right now.
I feel deeply loved.
I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will have a beautiful family in beautiful timing, and that for me, it will perfect.
I couldn’t be more obsessed about the puppy I’m getting this year, and the adventures we’re going to have.
I love my friends kids so much it hurts. I pray for them every day. I fly all over the country to see them and be an active part of their lives and know them. I love the precious new lives coming in to my life through my friends and I can’t WAIT to show up for them, and to join in the chorus of adults who grow them in to strong, kind humans.
I feel so spiritually connected and awake most of the time that it’s like living in the Matrix, and it’s the furthest thing from boring.
I just did my taxes, and my business grossed more money than I’ve ever made in my life last year. During that time I went to Southeast Asia for a month, took loads of long lunches, skied on Fridays, and slept about 9 blissful hours each night. My clients are healing and thriving. I built all of that, myself, from the ground up. And my boss? She’s fucking awesome.
How ’bout them apples, society?
When I come home to myself and to God, I rediscover the same beautiful, liberating truth over and over again: I HAVE EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED. Literally. Right now.
I just tend to forget, more often that I’d like, when I fall prey to comparing. To thinking that my particular story should look like someone else’s. To forgetting that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and that it’s amazing, and I get to shape it, to author it, to write my story to the best of my ability at every juncture with honesty and humility. I’ve had to fight for it. To stay the course. To not rush or lie or marry or change or push something faster out of the “shoulds” or the fear or what society tells me to do. And the AMAZING thing is, it all. keeps. getting. better.
This isn’t to say that I’ve arrived, by any stretch. I feel so deeply in process and so confused with SO many things. I’m just learning that I’m only unhappy when I forget that my happiness comes from living out the truth of who I was created to be with unrelenting confidence. And following my strong, wild, God-given intuition.
All that said, my God-given intuition right now is telling me that I should find some pizza, make out with the super hot guy sitting next to me as I write this (don’t worry mom, I know him) and book a trip to Japan with my best friend soon. And that I should go on and get that adorable dog I’ve been dreaming of for the last 10 fucking years. And post pictures of her ad nauseam on Facebook, hanging signs on her puppy neck as she grows like OMG 6 Months!!! Enjoys tummy rubs, frisbee fetch, movie snuggles and long walks.
Because y’all, everyone IS pregnant, and it’s freakin’ awesome. And my new dog will not be a substitute for the baby I wish I had; my new dog will be just what she is: MY FUCKING PERFECT AND AMAZING NEW DOG. The realization of a dream I’ve held deep in my soul for the last 15 years, because yes, I’m THAT obsessed with dogs, and if you know me at all, you know that it’s not babies I grab randomly in public and ooooo and ahhhhh over with crazed eyes and a racing heart.
Keep your eyes peeled for us walking in Congress Park. I’ll be enrolling her at the very prestigious Pavlov’s Obedience School this fall, because clearly, she’ll be more educated at 8 weeks than the rest of the border collies, and I don’t want her to get bored.
Fuck what Society says where you should be at right now. Do what you want as long as you are healthy, happy, and not hurting anyone else.
Love your writing Jen. I have seen many a “Sven and Scarletts” galavanting around town with their perfect little lives. Fuck them.
Also, I read some article about emotions we all have but don’t know about, and it said pronoia is the fear that everybody is out to help us.
Also I need puppy updates on like day one. I’m sure you’re aware.
aw, thanks so much for reading, Colt!! I appreciate the support so much! haha I’m sure Sven and Scarlett have plenty of legitimate problems too…albeit their insecurities may be of a different flavor than mine 😉 OMG “pronoia?!”I am plagiarizing that now. And puppy updates yes. I promise you’ll be amongst the first to know! please give Mace some snuggles for me, I miss her!!
You. Are. Amazing! Love this! Congratulations on the big year! Send puppy pics ASAP!🐶
Great thoughts Jen. Felt similar things and your a great example of how we should change our fears into positive outlooks. You’ve accomplished so much and I greatly respect you. Keep on keepin’ on.
This. Is. Everything. Found your article via Thought Catalog and had to hunt you down. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiring shot of positivity!! Everyone should get to a point where they can proudly declare:
“I’m fucking thriving.
Hey, thanks so very much for reading! It’s a journey for sure, isn’t it?! 🙂 Have an awesome weekend!
THIS right here! You gotta do life your way.