How do I say this…
My whole life I thought I’d be married one day. It’s just what you did. You grew up and you got married, everyone knows that!! Hello!!
So, imagine my surprise when that didn’t just naturally happen to me. I wasn’t given my government issued husband at the appropriate age of 24. Not too spinster…not too young.
I woke up in my 30’s, still single and without a single viable prospect in sight. At least from where I was standing in New York City at the time.
But hey, it wasn’t for the lack of effort. Since I was in college, and probably before that, I had been TRY-ING, capital letters, bold font!!!
“Hey Clint, do you like me back? Here’s my whole heart.” *chucks heart directly at target, doesn’t stick*
“Hey Scott, is it possible you might wanna like me, maybe?” *has learned to throw heart like a throwing star, still no direct hit*
“Hey Andy, CATCH!” *heart is now loaded into a bow and arrow type situation, to ensure precision accuracy…target not acquired*
“Hey JOSH!!!! You want this old thing? Please, for the love of God, take it!” *loads heart into a gun, spins the chamber…shoots…shoots…shoots*
Even on dates with new people, my entire personality was tailored like a personalized resume. What will make this person like me, let’s show them those things and ONLY those things. And like a Price is Right showcase, I’d wheel it out with the flashing lights and fancy price tags. In the hopes that someone, FOR THE SAKE OF PETE, would just win already. Like when the lotto gets so high that we’re all inspired to buy a ticket just in case. Just like that!! Exactly like that.
It may come as a surprise to you, that these strategies didn’t work.
And soon…the ole ticker was bruised and instead of hurling it at the closest whoever, I didn’t even take it out of it’s cast anymore. Too damaged. No 1-ups left in the game.
I had one job. To give this ole beating thump-thump away. Hopefully whoever got it would give me their thump-thump and I’d fulfill my life’s purpose. Then I’d get to move to the “be fruitful and multiply” portion of the test. And God would be happy with me. (Ooof…this one cuts deep, ya’ll.)
That was the narrative for years and years and years. Until like…yesterday, when I had a thought!
See, every member of my family (the ones I’m closest to and who are of age, at least) is married, all of them. I’m the outlier. The square peg. And if I’m being honest, back when I was trying to play the Game of Life and load my little red car up with blue husband peg, pink child peg, blue child peg, pink child peg, blue child peg…it felt inauthentic. It didn’t feel right. But it’s just what you did, so I did it.
Growing up in the church, there just wasn’t a place for single people. Even the single’s groups were really breeding grounds for dating and finding “the one.” The married’s took it as their personal missions in life to see everyone happily paired. And the older singles in the church were viewed through a sad lens. “Poor Sally, couldn’t find herself a nice man to settle down with. Now she’s 40 and her life is basically over. At least God loves her.”
All of that felt incorrect to me. I just couldn’t put my finger on why. Cause plenty of people seemed to be getting married and being happy about it. But what I was doing was trying to fulfill an expectation sent down to me through generations of societal standards and biblical #lifegoals. But they weren’t really me.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I thought out loud, “Thank God for MY journey. Thank GOD it never worked.”
Let’s keep being honest here, I was never in love with any of the men that I tried t-shirt canon-ing my heart to. Not a single one. That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt when time after time it turned out they just weren’t that into me.
But let’s give credit where credit is due. If any of my little strategies had worked, what would they have been falling for, exactly? What kind of snake oil salesman was I back then? In 3, 5, 15 years, we both would have woken up to the very harsh reality that we’d built a life on shifting sand.
Who I am today is so far from who I thought I’d be. And what I want out of life now is a multi-verse away from what I wanted then.
So I didn’t fail.
I protected myself without even knowing it. 28 year old Lizzie was RIDE OR DIE for me. 31 year old Lizzie was playing the long game. 35 year old Lizzie knew it was time to pack it up and today…38 (almost 39) year old Lizzie…she’s free.
Free to be what I want. And who I want. And go where I want. And maybe fall in love and maybe not. But if so…it’s with arms wide open. With hearts, stars and horseshoes all printed on the box!! There are marshmallows in this cereal!!! If you don’t want marshmallows, pick another cereal.
We had a team meeting and the marketing department is finally showing what’s inside the box. And what’s inside is so good!! There’s a theme song and merch. Cause the team has finally learned the value of the product.
Are we still making mistakes? Sure, even Taco Bell tried selling a waffle taco once. No one gets it right 100% of the time.
And 39 year old Lizzie will make mistakes too. But all the stuff that came before is being viewed through a new lens. It wasn’t me who failed. It was the narrative that failed me.
I’m just not normal like that. (What is normal, I ask you.) I’m a mother fucking unicorn! And now is my time to ride! I thank God for what came before. Because I wouldn’t be this awesome if it had played out any differently.
What’s a narrative that has failed you? Cause I’m here to tell you, it’s time to flip the script!!