Earlier this week I cried at a bluegrass festival. *Pause for a second while no one is astonished.* I cry in public a lot. Most often because of something beautiful I’m seeing or reading or in this case hearing. The Crane Wives opened the festival, and I’ve been listening to them for the past few weeks while I slog through the toughest part of a tough semester, and their music is beautiful. So here is the perfect storm that facilitated my most recent public display of emotion.
I don’t want to have children; I’ve known this about myself since I was 14 and have solidified it into a certainty over the past twelve years. Marriage is still a question mark in my mind. Maybe it’s an adventure I’d be willing to embark on, maybe it’s not. I’m in no hurry to find out. In spite of these less than traditional views of marriage and family, I am still a very relationship-y person. Add to this already complicated mix a key ingredient: relationships in graduate school are challenging if not impossible to maintain well.
So, in addition to weird societal pressures that complicate my life decisions (or what looks to most people like a lack of life decisions), I often struggle with asking myself: if I don’t want to get married or have children, then what’s with all this relationship-y stuff? Why do I intertwine my life so closely with another person’s life when I have no ultimate end goal in mind? Rather than being discouraged by these questions and uncertainties when they insist on pushing in, I like to live in them for awhile, give them their due diligence. “The unexamined life is not worth living” or some other viral internet quote. JK, apparently that’s a quote from Socrates; he can stay.
I also feel like because I don’t want to have a family/children I should want to be a kind of heavy hitter academic, leader in my field type. But I’m not sure that that life’s for me either. I do want to have a vocation, not just a job or a career. I want to love the thing I do and be happy in doing it. But, I don’t want my life to be a constant performance, like I imagine that kind of intense job-only, career-mindedness would be. And these tensions lead to an intensifying of my already thriving impostor syndrome. Again, rather than be discouraged, I try to live in these uncertainties for awhile. And music helps.