Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Defined by Numbers

I decided last night that I don't want to be defined by numbers. 
I am not the size etched in the waistline of my jeans. 
I am not an age
I am not a percentage 
I am not a test score
I am not a number. 

When I think to the times my heart sinks the most, it is often in the realization of man's inhumanity to man. During the Holocaust, one way the victims were dehumanized was through losing their names and identities. Each person was assigned and branded a number to replace their name. Similarly, slaves and prisoners were also branded with numbers. I think to one of my favorite musicals, "Les Miserables," where Jean Valjean is referred to as 24601 in the very opening song:

JAVERT: "Five years for what you did
The rest because you tried to run
Yes, 24601"
JEAN VALJEAN: "My name is Jean Valjean"
JAVERT: "And I am Javert
Do not forget my name!
Do not forget me, 24601"

Thankfully, I am not branded with a number in this manner. However, I see people define themselves with statistics and numbers all the time. I do not want numbers to define who I am. I am not a number; I cannot be a number because a number has no way of grasping my entirety. A number doesn't show you how funny my hair looks in the morning, or the way I crinkle my nose when I laugh. Yes, numbers can do amazing things in computers, machines, codes, etc. But, they cannot define who I am; that power is all mine. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

I'd Like to Clarify One or Two Things

 I have received various responses to my continuous effort to keep marriage near the top of my priority list. I realize that the majority of these comments are meant to comfort me in my singleness, but sometimes they just crawl underneath my skin. "Jenny, how old are you?" (answer) "Oh please, you are so young. Stop worrying so much." OR "When I was your age, I had no intention of getting married. Focus on just enjoying your life. Travel. Start your path to a career. If marriage happens, great! You don't need a man to be successful." AND "Think of all the amazing women who were not married until their thirties -(Insert endless amount of names here). Look at all the wonderful things they accomplished and the great husbands they found!" I'm not saying that I disagree with any of this. I know it was all given to help me feel better and be better, and I appreciate that, but here's the thing...

 I was on a date with a friend a while back. He inquired whether one of our mutual friends was married, so I said "No, she is not." To which he returned, "Jenny, are you really that depressed you are not married yet?!" -- I sat stunned at the thought that my unemotional answer would elicit such an emotional response. Is this what everyone thinks? To those of you with his same question, i'd like to clarify one or two things. 

#1. It has nothing to do with how old I am: My parents were married at the age of 25 and my siblings followed suit. I never grew up with the notion that I needed to be married at a young age. In fact, the earliest age I wanted to be married was 23. (Funny how we think we know how an age feels long before we get there) I don't advocate rushing into marriage, or putting it off. I believe people simply want to feel ready when that big day comes, and we are all ready at different times. As I stated, I am just barely in my designated age bracket for marriage. I don't feel like an old spinster, or that all my friends are married. This is not about age, it is about timing. I had a dear friend once express how nice it would be if God simply sent me a letter one day saying, "Dear Jenny, you're going to get married in a couple years. You don't need to worry so much. Please just work on enjoying the opportunities i'm providing you to be ready." I'm not frustrated that I'm 23 and unmarried. I'm simply trying to plan my life around an unknown. 

#2. I want to stop worrying about this. Another close friend of mine once suggested that if we all stopped worrying so much about dating, maybe it would just happen naturally. He's getting married now, so maybe he's right. No one should try to force marriage; we want that natural progression from friend to boyfriend, boyfriend to love of my life, love of my life to husband, etc. But despite how natural this process should be, the constant preaching about effort adds a lot of pressure. The worries creep in that I am responsible for my situation, I am not putting myself out there enough, i'm not stepping out of my comfort zone enough, i'm not vulnerable enough, I'm not attractive enough, I'm too picky, i'm not picky enough, i'm not going on enough dates, i'm not accessible, i'm waiting for a guy who doesn't exist, i'm not good at this, and I should just be done. So you tell me, how do I not worry about this? 

#3. Depressed is not the word, and Marriage isn't actually the issue. I'm not upset that I am not married, or even overly sad. I'm still so young as you've all mentioned previously. You see, I am not actually worried about getting married right now at all.Yes, marriage would fit fine into my life right now if I were in love with someone I wanted to marry, and yes I still want to make marriage the priority. But to be honest, i'm not anxious about marriage, i'm anxious about falling in love again. 

There's the rub. I'm not envious that all my friends are getting married; i'm envious they have someone to pour their heart into. I've tried to just embrace the whole "I am single woman, hear me roar!" mentality and it doesn't stick. I don't like the "dating around" stage because I'm just no good at it. But, it's impossible to simply skip to the good part, so here I am. I guess i'm learning patience, but what I really want to learn is that my heart is capable of falling in love again. Even if it breaks, at least i'd know it still works. For a while, I feared the beating of my heart was slowing to that monotone sound of a dead-straight line. I looked at it helplessly, crying out for someone to please save it. With a transfusion of love from my friends and family, I began pumping large doses of hope back into my little heart. It resuscitated temporarily, but continues deflating. I've decided there must be a hole; something must be missing. I'm not sure how to fix it, except to find a receptacle for the love that is bleeding out uncontrollably.

So here's the clarification: I am not depressed that I am not married yet, and I don't feel pressured to get married soon. I'm depressed that i'm so bad at being single, and I feel pressured to fall in love again before my heart empties completely. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Medicine Cabinet

It's that time again. Flu and Cold season! When we don't feel well, we head for the medicine cabinet. I'm sure we each have our personal remedies that "honestly work the best" up front on the shelves. But, what do we reach for when we aren't feeling well on the inside? Is there a medicine cabinet for that, and what in the world would we put in it? 

It's just a thought, but a thought that has been ruminating for a while now. I think I want to build a medicine cabinet containing the following:
  1. A book of poetry
  2. An ipod full of my favorite music - specifically replaying the Weepies, Ingrid Michelson, and Joni Mitchell  
  3. A movie that's going to make me cry and then leave me smiling
  4. High-quality Chocolate (best band aids I hear)
  5. Scriptures / My patriarchal blessing 
  6. A coloring book with a big box of crayons 
  7. A cook book with ingredients all ready to go
  8. A pre-paid plane ticket to the beach 
  9. Some of my old writings and letters
  10. A box of exercise clothes with a Zumba membership
  11. A cell phone with all my friends and family on speed-dial 
  12. Fresh flowers
  13. A ticket to a live play
  14. Fall leaves
  15. A cuddly pillow and blanket 
  16. Cleaning supplies (sometimes feeling productive is my best medicine)
  17. Jeans that fit perfectly 
  18. Tchaikovsky's "None but the Lonely Heart" piano music. 
  19. All episodes of Boy Meets World 
  20. A list of friends who need a friend
So, what's in your cabinet?