Recently, I find myself inexplicably, yet understandably, pissed off. I’m not really sure who I’m angry at, but I think it’s a mix of the Church, American culture, and myself. For whatever reason, I’ve developed into what is generally known as a hopeless romantic (a cruel phrase really, as it implies someone who desperately desires a romance that they have no hope of obtaining), but to an absurd degree. I fawn over the romantic relationships in every piece of media I consume, the more “real” and “raw” the better. While I recognized this about myself years ago and have tried desperately to curb this tendency, I still find myself day dreaming about someone (anyone really) coming along and showing true interest in me, desiring my company, making me a priority in their life. I wonder what it would be like to have someone in the passenger seat on a long drive (or better yet, to be in the passenger seat while someone else drives), to show up at a friend’s wedding and not feel awkward and isolated, or to come home to a family instead of an empty room. I try to convince myself that these things aren’t necessary, that I can still have a good life and I really do believe that’s true, but I can’t shake these intense desires for companionship and that’s what makes me so angry!
I’m not the first to point out how the Church has elevated marriage and set it as the ideal for all people. Sure, people will say that being single is good too and my married friends often express jealousy at my nearly limitless freedom, but that doesn’t change the fact that the church bulletin is full of announcements about family camp and marriage seminars and how to a better husband/father workshops. When it comes down to it, I’m not upset that the church caters to couples and families since they are the majority of the church, but I am frustrated that I was raised to believe that marriage and family are inevitable. I wish it had been clear that some people’s lives don’t go that direction so that I could be better prepared for a more solitary kind of life.
Popular culture has also promoted ideals of love, though not necessarily marriage. So many movies revolve around two people who just aren’t happy and whose lives aren’t fulfilling until they meet and then they spend the rest of their lives together and everything is perfect. Even films that try to avoid this cliche end with the protagonist alone, but with their dream job or some other prize that still ends up feeling like a consolation or sometimes with a feeling of, “it’s gonna be alright.” The truth is, I don’t want just alright. I want to flourish and not simply spend my days on this earth waiting to die. The trouble is, I’ve been so programmed to focus on love, marriage, and relationships that I have a hard time not planning my life around it. I need to work on forging my own path and living a life that makes my Creator proud.