There are certain questions that people ask that quite frankly get on my damn nerves. There is of course for the chronically single, the proverbial—so, when are you going to find someone? Or if you’re starting to hover over that thirty mark—do you have a man yet? This type of question always seems to get asked during social occasions where you least feel like answering that question, and in a particular tone that lets you know that at some point your perpetual singlehood has been the subject of discussion. You answer this, with the quiet politeness that demonstrates your parents’ well-bred manners, all the while barely managing to suppress the–fuck off—that so desperately wants to come out.
Aside from that, there is of course another question that is even more nauseatingly insidious, which is—what do you for a living?—or even better—so what are you doing with yourself? Again, this type of question always seems to be posed during social occasions where the urge to remain polite adds fuel to the irritation. Now for those of you who find nothing wrong with what may appear to be harmless social inquiries, I’ll elaborate more just why these types of questions (and the myriad of others like it) get under my skin.
It all has to do with the perception of success. Success, according to mainstream society, equates holding down what is considered to be a steady job (though not necessarily working—as you could be working your ass off, just not pulling in sufficient enough income for that to be considered a real job) that if truly successful would net you an income of 100K+. You would be in a stable, committed relationship that should ultimately lead into marriage and then in several blissful years, purchase a home with a sizable back yard and people it with at least two adorable children. If you have achieved all this, then you will have the true emblem of success—the American dream, par excellence.
The problem with this dream is that it has more to do with the emblems of status, then genuine personal fulfillment. It is something to flaunt—even if it means absolutely nothing on the inside, and something to judge yourself and others against—sometimes most cruelly. We buy into it, just as we buy into most commodities packaged and sold to us as outright necessities. It’s kind of like how the diamond company DeBeers, in the early twentieth century, wanted to find a way to sell more diamonds, so they cooked up an advertisement that connected the idea of love with a ring that was so successful (considered one of the most successful advertisements in history) that now a woman in the twenty-first century deems it an unquestionable fact, that a man on bended knee with a ring in his hand is the true symbol of love—even if that symbol never existed less than a hundred years ago.
What disturbs me the most, isn’t the individual elements in themselves, or that there is something malicious embedded within them, but that we perceive and believe these things to be what makes a human being somebody is what is problematic. So that if I were to tell someone straight up that I’m no longer gainfully employed—in a traditional sense—not fully settled in my academic career—self-publish books that aren’t flying off the book shelves—and at near thirty neither married, engaged or dating—I would unquestionably be labeled a loser. I’m then—when asked questions—perpetually forced in a defensive mode, and that irritates the shit out of me. Because what I really feel like saying to the people that ask me these questions is—what the fuck difference does it make to you whether or not I’m going to a job that I hate or am hooked up to someone that you probably wouldn’t give a shit about. You’re not paying my bills, and if I was broke and asked you to, you wouldn’t do it anyway. If I am single—it does not mean that I’m lacking or somehow “unfulfilled” as a human being—it is merely a determination on my part not to settle for bullshit and a realization that sometimes the loneliest people on earth are those nestled in the comfortable confines of a conventional relationship. I need neither your pity—nor your righteous indignation—so please save those things for yourself.
If I had the bravery and audacity of my mother (who is actually one of the few souls I know that hardly gives a damn what people think of her) I would states that. Hopefully one day I will, but in the meanwhile I’ll continue to journey miles and destinations in my mind that most people never dream of, and attain my true fulfillment writing down and sharing those journeys with the world.