Guest Post: I’m Crazy, But Only For Today

I’ve never done a guest post before, but YH landed this in my inbox, and I like it. Even better, YH is a guy.

When I got back into shidduchim last year, there was one rule first and foremost in my mind: I wanted to get married, not play games. One of the reasons I want to get married is to find the happiness that comes from stability, because it’s hard to be happy when you have this huge gaping hole in your life. It’s hard to see the positives past such a big negative. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when all you want to do is lie down and indulge in self-pity. We’ve all had something which makes us feel incredibly lousy. It’s the essence of the shidduch crisis. The crisis isn’t that there are thousands of unmarried men and women who desire strongly to have kids and raise a family. The crisis is you and me. It’s a personal crisis shared by thousands.

I know what it means to hold a baby in your arms, to teach a child to read, to show little ones right from wrong. Boruch Hashem, I’ve been blessed with several ridiculously cute kinfauna (kn’ayin harah) whom I treasure more than anything and who love me back unconditionally. Boruch Hashem I have a close relationship with my married siblings, so I have a glimpse at the inside of the married universe.

It’s the hardest thing for me in the world.

How can I maintain a balance, an equilibrium, when every day I’m constantly reminded that I’m still alone, that I’m still single – especially in a culture that revolves around family life? How can I maintain yourself through rejection after rejection; to see my optimism and self-confidence crumble into dust?

I have to take some time off. Indulge in a little of that self-pity, and do it without feeling guilty. Just let it wash over myself. Watch a movie, seek out sympathetic friends. Do something relaxing, comforting. Then think it through – remember what my life is about. True, the life I want includes a wife and family. But that’s not the life Hashem has given me – not yet – and I have to live the life I have now to the best of my ability. There is so much out there for me to do: I have no business wallowing in yearning for something out of my reach.

To the contrary: it’s time to grab life by the horns. Time to kick back into high hear, make a goal for myself, follow it through to the triumph. Start exercising, drop a few pounds, ditch the raggedy sweater with the nachos stains and get a nice shirt and new tie. It’s time to feel better about being me, to start being proactive about life in general.

It’s okay to have a bad day, but only as a launchpad for a better future. It’s okay to crazy – but only for a day.

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Are People Pitying Me?

I remember when I thought 24 was kind of old to be single. Being single at 24 meant you were having an unusually tough time getting married. You’d been out with a gazillion guys and seriously, you still couldn’t find anyone to marry? You were nebach and you were suspect.

Now I know that at 24 you haven’t gone out with a gazillion guys. That engagement isn’t a milestone you pass like a birthday, and that it’s not something you can miss by accidentally taking the scenic route. It’s something that very consciously doesn’t occur when it isn’t a good idea for it to happen.

But most of all, I don’t think 24 is kind of old any more. Women my age with 2.5 kids fill me with wonder, not envy. Maybe I’m behind in building a family, but I haven’t been wasting my time. I’m not a pathetic single, sitting around waiting to get swept off her feet. I’ve been busy, living and learning and growing.

Now is not as good a time for marriage as ever before – it’s better. I’m older, I’m more mature, I know more and can do more and can feel more. I’m more patient and less judgmental, more crystal about my own desires and less clouded by the expectations of others. I’m different from the person who graduated seminary, in some ways perhaps for the worse, but on the whole, I think, for the better.

It was that high school self who thought the current me was a sad case. And the people who currently agree with her are probably in the same stage, or never had reason to move beyond it. To all those people: I’m sorry for causing you such distress. But please don’t waste any sympathy on me, because I don’t feel like a nebach case. I’m 24 and I feel great.

Grateful for…

After yesterday’s Thanksgiving post, someone commented that yes we have lots to be grateful for – like being alive.

I’ve never been a big one for the “let’s be grateful for being alive!” business. I mean, only someone who isn’t just alive would say that. Because if you were merely alive, with no pleasure at all except the dubious one of being alive, you probably wouldn’t be grateful for it. People want to live for a reason, not for the sake of life itself. (And usually it’s not the sake of life so much as the fear of what dreams may come when we shuffle off this mortal coil.)

Also, with all due respect to the commenter and all the people who go on about being grateful for being alive, I think it’s lazy to be grateful only for the big obvious things. We’re given so many gifts in life: we ought to appreciate them. Because if we don’t – well, then we deserve to have them disappear.

To illustrate, the commentators brings the following parable and explanation:

A shana-rishona wife makes her husband a seven-course meal. She serves it up and what does he do? He smiles and says “I’m so lucky to be married to you.”

Yes, a wife wants to hear that. But save it for the pizza nights. Right now she’d like you to please take a moment to appreciate the delicate balance of flavor in the butternut squash soup that took  seven hours, four pots, and most of the spice rack to make. It would be in order to marvel  a bit at her skill and say “oh you shouldn’t have – but I’m glad you did. This is amazing.

If he doesn’t seem to care, well, no more butternut squash soup for him. Being married to her will have to do.

So –

Things I am thankful for:

  • The heightened color of tree bark when it rains
  • Pictures of cute fuzzy animals with funny captions
  • Humanity’s infinite capacity for creativity and humor
  • Being cozy indoors on cold rainy nights
  • Seasons, so the weather is always an interesting subject
  • USB flash drives (remember the days of rewritable CDs?)
  • Short and clever divrei Torah
  • Good novels that keep you reading into the early morning because you have to see how it’s going to end
  • Shoes! No, not as in “things that keep your feet warm and dry” (they don’t always) but as in “pretty things that are fun to buy and wear”
  • Family game nights
  • downhill – a recent invention (if grandma’s stories about getting to school are anything to go by) which affords us the best parts of sledding, skiing, skating, biking, rolling down hills, and hypermiling. (Why do people say “it was all downhill from there”? That should mean “it was easy coasting.”)
  • Those friends you can always count on
  • Variety – the spice of life (and spice, for that matter)
  • partly-cloudy skies (because the patterns are so pretty)
  • Water in every form: crisp and cool in a glass, rolling in to shore as a wave, roaring over a falls, splashing down a riverbed, splatting down into puddles on warm summer afternoons, shooting out of sprinklers that you run through, floating across the polar oceans, steaming from a mug of tea or the jets of a hot shower, frozen under your skates, lapping against the walls of a clean blue swimming pool…
  • All the best traits of people: compassion, sociability, curiosity, ambitious discontent, etc.
  • Children between the ages of 1 and 5
  • Kinfauna
  • The silly way ducks turn rump-up when they’re feeding
  • The way everyone around the world eats Swiss fudge cookies the same way

Okay, I’ll stop here. What am I leaving out?

Can’t a Person Lose a Little Weight Around Here?

It isn’t Friday, so this isn’t really a repost, but Blobby’s post about people engaging her for no particularly good reason reminds me of  the other things you can do to get engaged before your time.

  • Dress up a couple of times
  • Do your hair/makeup a little more often or more extensively
  • Lose weight
  • Be unavailable for telephone conversation for a couple of weeks
  • Be busy in the evenings more often than usual
  • Examine household items in the store
  • Smile to yourself a lot
  • Say “I have great news!” or something along those lines
  • Tell people that you’re busy