My friend got engaged this weekend. We sort of knew it was coming. They’d talked about getting married. She and I had even stopped by at a few jewelry stores to try on engagement rings for… you know… ideas. Just last weekend we laughed while sitting on her couch as we perused The Knot website because she was morphing into that very girl I made fun of — the girl who plans her wedding before she’s engaged. I have to admit it. I actually enjoyed looking at centerpiece ideas.
Even though I knew it was inevitable, I was still surprised when she told me he’d proposed. My heart immediately filled with excitement for her. The ring! The story! The guy! The undeniable joy she was feeling! And I was happy, too. Genuinely, truly happy.
So why, if I am so happy for her, do I still feel that little twinge of loneliness? Not the run-of-the-mill, everyday loneliness that I feel just because I’m single. Not even the loneliness I feel on holidays designed for couples, like Valentines and New Years Eve. But the kind of loneliness that creeps in when you start to question if it will ever happen to you.
She reads this blog, you know. Because she’s a great friend who supports what I do. And here I go, talking about how I’m jealous of her and her newfound happiness. I’m a terrible friend.
Oddly, you know what she’ll do when she reads this post? She’ll tell me she loves me. She’ll tell me I’m a great writer and I was just being honest, and that’s what great writers do. And she’ll tell me that I’ll meet the perfect man for me one day. She’ll say all those things because she’s a good friend.
You probably don’t believe me when I say that I am very happy for her. Because how could I really be happy for her and jealous of her at the same time? That doesn’t make sense.
Listen. I can’t explain it. But it’s the truth.
And this isn’t the first time it has happened.
For women, it’s always been about the competition. And I hate it.
- We compete for men.
- We compete to keep up with other women.
- We compete to have the best bodies, the shiniest hair, the smoothest skin.
- We compete to convince men to date us, to marry us.
- We compete to have the sparkliest diamond rings and the most glamorous weddings.
- We compete to be the most beautiful, magazine-cover-worthy brides.
- We compete to get married by a certain age, to have children by a certain age.
- We compete to be the best moms, the ones that use organic peanut butter and pack our kids’ school lunches every day.
- We compete to breastfeed for at least two years, because that’s what the latest mommy magazines say is right.
- We compete to be successful career women, to climb the corporate ladder and show the men who’s boss.
- We compete to volunteer the most in the community.
- We compete to get the best solos on the church worship team.
- We compete to have our kids attend the best colleges.
- We compete against society’s standards of how we should look and what we should be doing.
And here’s the kicker:
- We compete against our own biological clocks.
That last one’s got me falling behind on all counts. How will I possibly squeeze in all of the above and still fit baby making into the next eight years of my life, which I’m told (sometimes by complete strangers) are all that’s left of my prime childbearing years?
I will never win in this war between women. Frankly, none of us will. So today I’m choosing to count myself out of the fight. I choose to step out of the ring and throw off my gloves. Now don’t get me wrong — I’m only human. There will be days I fall victim to useless time- and energy-wasters like jealousy, envy, and hatred. But I will try my best not to. That’s the choice I’m making.
What I want is to be a good friend. I want to support the people I love in both their joys and in their trials. I want to grab hold of who I am today, where I am today — and live.
I am a single, 32-year-old writer.
I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt.
I am a worshipper. I am a child of God.
And I am a friend… who is very, very happy for my friend. Feeling slightly lonely, yes, but choosing to be happy, thankful and hopeful.
What choice will you make today?