I didn’t get the memo

You know which one. The one that gives you the instructions for life.

Like that maybe not all relationships that start in college are just college relationships – some last for ever.

The one that says you should really do your best to find a partner by the time you hit 30, because it gets MUCH harder to do so after then.

The note that tells you that time really does go by quickly and you need to DO things, otherwise you’ll end up wondering how you spent all those years.

That one day when you’re in your mid thirties, you’ll go to a lunch at a friend’s beautiful home, and be the only single person there – the only one without a family. When people look at you, you can see they’re trying to work out what’s wrong with you. Suddenly you wonder if you’re missing out. And what IS wrong with you.

That for all your independence, travel, career and trail-blazing, you’ll become an outsider if you don’t have the spouse and 2.4 kids by the time you’re 35. And that the pool of ‘people like you’ – and your social circle – is fast diminishing.

For the first time, I’m wondering if I’m missing out by being single and independent. Don’t get me wrong – my biological clock is still definitely on ‘snooze’. But I’m tired of flying solo, of feeling left out, of not having someone to share life with. Of having women sidle closer to their husbands when I’m around (and I am so totally NOT a femme fatale, by any means). Of having my Facebook news page filled with photos from friends’ childrens’ birthday parties (not that I mind not being invited – rather, that I’m left out of their social circle).

The problem is that if I do realise I’m over the single life, it’s up to fate as to whether I meet my soulmate. Sure, I can put myself out there, but ultimately, it’s not up to me. And for a control freak like me, that’s terrifying.

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21 thoughts on “I didn’t get the memo

  1. Wow, I think this could have easily been written by me! My thoughts exactly! I was invited to a couple’s baby shower this weekend and felt a bit relieved that I couldn’t attend. I was travelling out of town to run a marathon instead. I would have been the only “single” there and this is the 10th person in my circle of friends to be pregnant – right now. I’m feeling a bit suffocated!

    If I hear, “It’ll happen when you least expect it,” ONE MORE TIME, I think I might explode! 🙂

    All I can say to you is, “I understand,” which is more than any of my friends will ever be able to do.

  2. I think that if we keep on trying to control everything, life does become very terrifying indeed. Sometimes, we need to allow ourselves to relax, and go with the flow.

    This does not mean allowing ourselves to be battered by whatever crops up. It does mean, however, that, if we let go from time to time, and just let things happen, we can be pleasantly surprised.

    When we are travelling on the right road for our life, doors tend to open. When we are determinedly trying to crash through a closed door on a different path, we might succeed in breaking it open, at the cost of total exhaustion, but the next door on that path will be just as hard to open.

    When obstacles keep on getting in the way, it is sometimes wise to stop for a moment and see if there might not be another pathway to where we want to go. I have forced a few doors in my time, only to find that they weren’t the right ones for me.

    Stepping out of the rat-race, for a bit of quiet time, can be very helpful. Switching off the noise in our head is a great relief. We just have to remember to do it. To take time out to smell the roses, as they say.

  3. @They Call The Wind – So glad I am not alone! I had 8 friends pregnant at one time last year so I feel your pain. As for the ‘It will happen to you…’ comment – aargh! I’ve recently been getting ‘Oh, you would be SUCH a great mother.’ What IS the point of saying that to me??

    @Marilyn Hey, good to hear from you again 🙂 I love your point about hammering down a door only to find it was the wrong one for you. I guess we live and learn – but I do believe that the ‘right way’ should feel natural – we shouldn’t have to force it if it’s meant to be. I’d LOVE to be able to switch off the noise in my head… the monkey chatter is quieter for me though when I’m out with other people – it’s when I’m in a beautiful, quiet place that my thoughts run riot!

  4. Oh! I never got the memo either. For a while I would go on these walks around the big lake in my city and there would be these stroller gangs of women all the same age, all the same body type with babies all the same age and they even had the same strollers. I was like “they got the memo”. They somehow all bred at the same time and married at the same time and bought their strollers at the same time at the very same price at the very same store and meet every day and walk around the lake with their babies and talk about their very same lives. I bet they even vacation together and their husbands all work together.

    That is an extreme example, of course, of what getting the memo could be like.

    My memo never existed. Which is great because I get to write it myself. But at the same time, I DON’T get to write the marriage part — the find true love part — because that part is not up to me.

    And I 100% know what you are talking about when you find yourself in a room of people who did get the memo and you are the only one without and you start to think awful thoughts about yourself and you leave feeling utterly diminished and utterly awful because you let yourself look at your life through someone else’s eyes.

  5. Wow – you are living in my head! I know exactly what you mean and definitely didn’t get the memo either. The more married my friends get, when the children come along, the further they seem to be drifting. Exactly when did I become the only freakily single person out there??

  6. It is so nice to hear I am not the only one! In the past few months I have been thinking about where exactly did I go wrong.
    Should I have married the guy that proposed to me? No. Should I have stayed with my first boyfriend? No, I was too young. And the other two boyfriends, should I have made it work with them? Well no, I really didn’t like them all that much. Everyone else thought they were all good, but I didn’t. Should I have read the memo they did which said I should have made it work with one of them??? I don’t think so, really. But then, gosh maybe I should have. Should have, could have but I didn’t.

    For some strange reason, I still do actually believe that I will meet, fall in love, form a forever lasting relationship and create a family with the exact person whom I am meant to be with. Some days I do forget though and thinking I am a complete loser and what the
    hell happened.

  7. Dear single thirty-something,

    I have just named you as a recipient of the Kreativ Blogger Award. Congratulations!

    There are certain obligations connected with this award. I have listed them on my site in “Kreativ Blogger obligations”.

    Welcome to the fraternity!

    Marilyn

  8. @Singlutionary Hey! Great to hear from you 🙂 Had to laugh at your ‘extreme example’… yes, even though it is tough to look at ourselves through others’ eyes, I wouldn’t really want their lives. I sometimes think I’m envious of my married girl friends and then look at their husbands and ask myself ‘Would I want to be married to any of those guys?’ Even though some of my friends’ husbands are absolutely lovely (some not so much!), I still don’t fancy them, nor would want to marry them myself.

    @Mud Maybe they are the freaks! What gets me is how many talk about how blissfully happy they are and really, they’re not – they just feel that’s what they have to say. How come we single ‘freaks’ can be totally open and honest about our lives, but once you tie that knot, you’ve got to act like everything’s perfect? I’d rather be true 🙂 Love your blog, BTW, esp your travel pics – very envious!

    @davi Welcome 🙂 You are SO not alone! There are lots of us out there who have those same thoughts AND who are waiting for that person you KNOW is out there for us. Not Mr Perfect, but Mr Perfect for me. If I ask my married friends how they were sure they were doing the right thing by marrying their husband/wife, they all say ‘I just knew’ or ‘It was just so natural and easy’. I’ve had boyfriends but not yet one who I ‘just knew’ I wanted to be with forever. He’s out there… I’m sure. But in the meantime, I really enjoy living my own life the way I want to 🙂 So, I’d say you need to find some cool single friends who ‘get’ you 😉

    @Marilyn Thank you! 🙂 I’ve just left a note on your blog…

  9. True – but when control freak tendencies take over, it’s easier said than done 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Lauri.

  10. Thank you for writing this. I’m always talking to my friends about this memo that somehow didn’t get to me. I’m trying not to care about being single, but there’s a (large) part of me that really wants to meet a fabulous partner already. I don’t think it’s because I feel incomplete, blah blah blah. I won’t lower my standards as a few oh-so-helpful folks have suggested. I asked them which qualities I should chuck out the window: intelligence, thoughtfulness, affectionate(ness)? They just stared at me.

  11. Hi K Star – you’re not alone! I’ve been single this long… if I wanted to settle, I’d have done it long ago. No, let’s hold out for someone who ticks all the important boxes 🙂

  12. I also like the part where you mentioned that “time goes by quickly”. You when its glaringly obvious. When I view my former classmates from highschool/college Facebook profile and I see some of them has teenagers. I’m like I’ve been out of school for 13 years and I do not have kids yet. Then I ask myself, “where does the time go”.

    Seriously, I do want to be married and have kids. But my biological clock is on “snooze”. My current status would not bother if I didn’t feel so bored, restless, and etc. When the weekend rolls around I would love to just pick up the phone and call a friend to go out to the movies, dinner, play, concert or whatever. But I cannot because the majority of my friends are either married w/kids or single w/kids.

  13. I’m married but I can still relate to what you’re saying. We don’t have children (by choice) and choose to live like many younger people do – in a city centre apartment, enjoying what our city has to offer and going off on holiday when we get the chance.

    But having moved to a new country (Australia) we’ve found it really hard to make new friends. Most people our age are focussed on bringing up kids, and there is an assumption that once you pass 35 you don’t want to try out new bars, or go to interesting events. I’ve even tried searching for organised social groups here in Perth and there seem to be plenty for under-30s and over-50s, but in the years in between it’s clear we’re meant to be raising a family.

    I’m sure there’s more people like us out there…just have to find them!

  14. Hey Downunder – you know, I think that maybe couples like you are becoming (a little) more common. Hope so anyway! Sometimes I just say to myself ‘in 15 years I will get my friends back’… i.e. when their kids are old enough to be left alone when their parents fancy a night out with me 🙂 But until then, like you, I’ll also be looking out for other thirtysomething singles and child-free couples to have stimulating conversations and go to interesting events with 🙂

  15. @simom I’d also like to know where the time goes – LOL! I wonder how we can ‘identify’ all the singles and child-free couples in our towns… events for singles always become sad meatmarkets.

  16. As a single man approaching his 32nd birthday, I have to say, I agree with all the comments above. Strangely enough, the biological imperitive to breed isn’t so strong amongst my attached male friends, much more so amongst their partners. I’m noticing that most of the single women I meet in my age group have this almost fanatical desire for a relationship as they have visions of having children and they feel the clock is ticking. It’s a great way to make a man feel like he’s required as an accessory on not for himself and his own set of qualities, ladies! I’m really grateful that I no longer have to deal with that, having been in a three year relationship in which it was a serious bone of contention (she wanted kids NOW, I wanted kids NEVER)!

    The problem is really that I work nights in an all male environment, I’ve tried internet dating in the past and it’s lead to some long relationships but ultimately it all seems a bit contrived and extremely difficult to meet anyone who shares the same interests as me. I’m not a bad catch, own house, own teeth, own cars, plenty of hobbies and interests and if I say so myself, good looking. Finding a partner who’s similar, particularly one who shares my childfree stance, is proving nigh on impossible. Of course, it gets lonely at times and I’d like to meet the right woman eventually. In the meantime, I’m enjoying watching the world going by and my freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it! Great blog, keep it up!

  17. I didn’t get the Memo either! Your post is so spot on I feel like you’re in my head. Doesn’t it help to know you’re not alone? There have to be guys out there in the same boat who didn’t get the Memo either. I love your blog. I’ll be back.

  18. I have a newsflash about all of this. People who “got the memo” had something that others didn’t–parents. It’s the job of a parent to teach their child and prepare them for life. Otherwise the child grows up ignorant and has to figure it all out the hard way. By the time they figure it out they are usually in there 30s like me….when it’s too late. That’s why parenting is so important. You literally shape your child’s life. Unfortunately some parents like my are so ignorant about what parenting is they leave it up to the child to parent themselves and figure things out on their own.

  19. I agree parents have a super-important role to play in shaping a child’s life, but disagree that ‘not getting the memo’ as describe in this post is due to bad parenting. I have wonderful parents who brought me up to believe I could do and be anything I wanted to. Perhaps I was so busy doing that, I missed the memo… 🙂

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