For a lot of my life, I viewed college as an in-between step, a middle ground, if you will. It was a pit stop, a no man’s land, a waste of time. To me, college was the place you went to find your husband. It was the stepping stone from your parents’ house to your husband’s house. Nothing more, nothing less.
This backward and archaic opinion is through no fault but my own and is certainly not a reflection of my raising. My parents, both very educated people, pushed education and self-fulfillment upon my siblings and me. We were taught to be ambitious and to succeed in life. We were not taught to take the backseat or play second fiddle. We were not taught to settle.
I can’t exactly pin point where this mindset came from, but regardless, I had it, and when my very serious boyfriend broke up with me my senior year of college, I was destroyed. My world as I knew it came crashing down around me and I didn’t even know where to begin picking up the pieces. I was lost. I had assumed that we would get married after graduation and I would follow him to his military base. I’d forget about the classes I had taken, my thesis, and any career ambitions. I’d leave my diploma to collect dust in the attic and my college photos in a box at my parent’s house. I’d lose my last name and my identity all at the ripe old age of 21. But that didn’t happen. And thank God it didn’t. A month after my obligatory cap and gown pictures, I moved from D.C. to Florida to work on the presidential campaign. And I never looked back.
Through the devastation, I rebuilt. I found that I love working. I recognized that I’m independent. I finally realized that I am fully capable of taking care of myself. And you know what? I really love my last name. I’m not ready to get married. I’m not looking to be someone’s wife. Maybe someday I’ll want children, but that day is not today. I recognize that stay at home moms have the hardest job in the world, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be one. For years and years, I thought that all I wanted was to be someone’s wife. But now, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
1. I’m Educated
I don’t mean this in an egotistical or self-important way, and I recognize that many people (women especially) feel uncomfortable acknowledging their own strengths, but the fact of the matter is that I’m intelligent. I went to a good college. I watch the news and read the paper and I’m knowledgeable in current events. I don’t want to spend my days vacuuming and dusting to the sound of Kathie Lee and Hoda in the background; I want to discuss global issues with my coworkers, not Barney with a 3-year-old.
2. I Enjoy Working
Sure, waking up early sucks some days and there are times when my boss irritates the hell out of me. I don’t always enjoy my commute and every now and then I want to bash my head against my desk. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love working. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t give me great fulfillment. That doesn’t mean that I would rather not be working. I wake up every day and know that I am going to accomplish something. I am going to push myself, I am going to test my limits, I am going to create something. I’m going to feel fulfilled. And only I can make that happen.
3. I’m Independent
It took me a long time to realize that my happiness doesn’t depend on another person. But the wait was worth the realization and understanding that I am truly capable of being my own person. I don’t need someone to fulfill me and I certainly don’t need someone to support me financially. I get great satisfaction from paying my own bills and being on my own. I make my money and I get to spend it however I see fit. I pay for my apartment, I pay for my car, and if I want to treat myself to a pair of designer heels, there’s no one to tell me I can’t. I’m responsible for myself. And I like it that way.
4. I’m Not Ready For Children
A lot of my friends are having babies, and I’m truly happy for them. But I’m not ready for that yet. I enjoy going to happy hours after work and not having to worry about getting home to relieve the babysitter. I like that I can spend money on vacations rather than childcare. I enjoy staying up late watching reruns of The Office and not because I’m desperately trying to put down a teething two-year-old. I want to care about myself. I want to be selfish. I want to drink too many Margaritas on Friday and stay in bed all day Saturday. I want to spend the day at work without worrying about a call from school or finishing my project in time for Little League. I want to be a young professional. I want to concentrate on myself.
5. It Wouldn’t Make Me Happy
I’m at the age where a lot of my friends are getting married and having babies. And that’s wonderful for them – if that is truly what they want. But I know a lot of girls with advanced degrees who are going to Mommy and Me Yoga by day and crying themselves to sleep at night. Do some women love being stay at home moms? Absolutely. I was raised by one and I love her for it. My mom was hands on, involved with our schools, and coached our Little League Games. It made her happy. But it doesn’t make everyone happy. I fear that a lot of women I know are letting their degrees gather dust because they feel it is what society expects from them. They’re putting their own happiness on hold for the sake of their husband’s or their parents’ or society’s and that is wrong. I know that being a housewife would not make me happy, at least right now, and so it is not something I am seeking. I love my life. I’m happy. I enjoy being independent and I absolutely love working. I don’t want to be a housewife. And that’s okay.