I remember watching He’s Just Not That Into You and wishing desperately that I had seen that movie in high school, until I saw the ending. The main character, Gigi, ends up with the guy, because she realizes that she is the “exception” and not the “rule”. This movie could have made a profound point, but instead, it followed the basic romanic comedy plot.
These movies teach me that there are two important categories: single and married. My tax return teaches me that there are specific categories: single, married filing separately, married filing jointly, widow(er). When I am at a wedding, if I am unmarried, I am required to stand with the desperate bouquet-catchers (not that I EVER do that if I can help it). Even churches give us these categories: college, young adult singles, young adult marrieds, older adults, seniors…
Even though these classifications have societal importance, they erode at our minds, causing us to put ourselves into these categories over and over. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether I’m single or married, but what I do when I’m single or married does matter. How I spend my days matters a lot.
But if I let myself think that getting the guy is the climax of my story, then that leaves the rest of my life as the dénouement. I have a problem with that, because it means that all I have left is falling action. That’s where I’m at now, and occasionally, I will catch myself being a little disappointed with how quickly my story ended.. And I am not unhappy with who I’m with or where I’m at! Somehow, along the line, I bought into the lie that once you get the guy, things are easy and that life is just falling action.
It isn’t, though. It goes up and down all the time, and I am still unprepared for that. Now that the first couple years have passed, I’m having to wake up and figure out who I am. Yes, I still have to make an effort to look pretty. Yes, I still have to make sure my personality is pleasant. But I also have to figure out what to think about in my spare time, who I spend my time with, what I read. Because it doesn’t focus around this high point anymore. My dimensions are more than I thought they were, and I am finding out that there is more and more to life than I thought there was.
It is wonderful to have a companion, but having one has not ended feelings of loneliness or isolation. It has not given me emotional stability. It has not given me a clear future. Life doesn’t happen in pretty, contained boxes. It is wild, erratic. I am happy, but my struggles in a relationship are largely the same as they were before. I think that’s a bit of what feminism is: coming to an understanding of who you are as a woman, and what you mean to yourself, your family, your community, and your nation. It is not allowing yourself to be defined wholly by these groups, and that is very Christian.
Life, as Andrée Seu said, is a series of moments. Some good, some bad, some average. I’m reminded of something that was said in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants:
Maybe the truth is, there’s a little bit of loser in all of us. Being happy isn’t having everything in your life be perfect. Maybe it’s about stringing together all the little things.
Our lives don’t follow the same pattern that good literature does. I think I’m glad of that. It’s motivation to never stop trying, always striving for more and for better.