Are your parents still together? Mine are. And a lot of my friends’ parents are. Mine have been together for 38 years. Can you imagine?! I haven’t even been with someone for longer than 3 years. And the older I get the more I’m afraid that I’m going to be alone forever. Or at least not be able to find someone who I can imagine spending 38 years with. Why is this? How do my parents make love seem so easy?
Times were simpler then. People were getting married right out of college and starting families right away. So is it the kids that have kept them together? Is it the choice to keep loving the same person year after year? Or is it that their dreams and career goals just weren’t as ambitious as mine? How come they found each other so easily and have had smooth sailing ever since? Why can’t I have that? Why can’t my friends have that?
My parents are very content to spend their days with each other, have white collar careers, and raise a family. They get excited about their kids getting married or giving them grandkids. They look forward to small trips within the US and relaxing at home and doing yard work on the weekends. I guess what you could say is that my parents enjoy a simple life. I have never wanted just a simple life. The idea of that seems worse than death. So is that the trade off then for me? That I can either find love and happiness or I can live a more exciting life?
I can’t help but feel like maybe my career choice and my location have thrown a wrench into my plans for a solid, loving relationship. And because my career has caused me to think more selfishly does that mean I have to find someone who has a completely opposite career path? Because two selfish people does not a healthy relationship make.
But I live in LA! I’m surrounded by actors, writers, directors, musicians, and creators! They are the ones I WANT to be with. We understand each other and have similar interests. We get it that the career comes first most of the time. So maybe we have harder relationships. We have to make more effort and sacrifice more than my parents did. They had 9-5 jobs. They had more time together. They never had to go on “tour” or “shoot on location”.
In my acting class I worked on a play for a veryyyyy long time called, “Isn’t It Romantic” by Wendy Wasserstein. My teacher gave it to me because she knew that I embodied the character of Harriet Cornwall better than anyone else. Harriet is a Cambridge and Harvard educated woman living in NYC who is on the verge of turning 30 and experiencing an existential crisis. She has always put her career first and dominated in the business world but has nothing real happening in her romantic life. She has wonderful friends and a cool mom and seems so happy on the outside but is screaming for more on the inside. One day at lunch at The Four Seasons she asks her mother this question:
“Mother, do you think it’s possible to be married or living with a man, have a good relationship and children that you share equal responsibility for, and a career, and still read novels, play the piano, have women friends and swim twice a week?”
And her mother responds with, “You mean what the women’s magazines call, ‘having it all’? Harriet, that’s just your generation’s fantasy.”
IS THAT JUST MY GENERATION’S FANTASY?! Will we never be able to have it all?! This idea simply CRUSHES me. I want to. I need to. I have to. I can’t compromise in any area. But what if Harriet’s mom is right?
At the end of the play Harriet ends up “settling” for a nice man who she can make a nice life with. She gives up on the idea of waiting to find her one true love and making that relationship work and instead creates the opportunity for herself by taking the easy thing.
I hate the word NICE. It’s so plain and stupid. If I ever meet a man who I just describe as “nice” we will never have a relationship. I can’t handle dull but easy. I want a fiery, complicated love. I want passion and excitement. And maybe that’s the problem. That kind of love distracts you from your goals.
Did my parents settle so that they could have that “nice life”? Maybe they had bigger goals for themselves that I just don’t know about! I know they are both happy, but could it be possible that they had to sacrifice certain things in order to create a solid, loving family life?
When I told my Mom I wanted to move to LA and become an actress she said, “why don’t you just stay here in Indiana and have a family and do community theatre” as if that would be enough for me. Did she not understand my burning desire for more or did she know that I wouldn’t be 100% happy and wanted to save me from that feeling? Or is that the whole thing? Either way I am not going to be 100% happy. Maybe I should just settle now and get it over with.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and writer of the book “Lean In”, seems to be doing this thing we call “having it all” and is of my parents’ generation. Also see, Tina Fey. But maybe they settled too. One can never be sure. Find a man who loves you more than you love him and who is NICE and maybe a solid 6 while you’re a 10 and you can have the career you’ve always wanted!
But we all know that I’m not going to settle. I may have to continue to follow my career and push down these impatient feelings of yearning for love until it pops off and THEN follow my dreams for a relationship. Or I’ll just be exhausted trying to keep a bunch of balls in the air while pursuing all of it at once.
Here’s to hoping that I experience the success I’m looking for soon so that I can shift my focus, because I am BEYOND ready for a real, true, amazing love.
“You throw yourself into your work with a determination that can only come from trying to find a replacement for love.” @WRDSMTH