I can still remember the conversation as if it was yesterday...
"You’ll be the one with the house with the white picket fence and 3.5 kids…” Though the .5 was somewhat confusing, (Half a child? Does .5 mean a dog?) I knew I had been labeled. Everyone expected me to be the future homebody. To marry. Have kids. I already knew half of my college classmates thought I was a goody-goody. I even had a good friend tell me that most guys we knew wouldn’t ask me out because I was “too good.”
They were all dream-chasers. They wanted success in The Biz. To be on Broadway. To be a star in Hollywood. At that age, New York City was terrifying to me. And I never once thought about Hollywood. I loved to write, ride horses, acting and especially singing. I believed I was good at it, just not Broadway good. I shake my head even now as I think about it. Back then a lot of my life was dictated by other people’s labels.
Fast-forward 18 years. No house. No white picket fence. No marriage. No kids. I’m a writer, director, producer. Most of it in theater and some in film. I gallivanted as an art director in television. It was fun, but grueling. I got started into the scene a bit late. So now I’m a single gal with an ever-evolving career. I’ve lived and worked in London. Studied a summer at Oxford. Lived, worked, and slaved in Hollywood. I’ve hobnobbed with stars and important people among actors, producers, directors, writers. All those people my college buddies wanted to be. A very few of them have made it to that type of success. Once I envied them, then admired them, and now I respect them.
"The Biz" is hard and it’s unforgiving. You either love it or leave it. I chose to leave Hollywood because I didn’t like being pigeon-holed into a position I didn’t come to fill in the first place. But that kind of thing happens, a lot more than people are willing to admit. “I want to be a writer…” Here, hold this cable. And suddenly you’re a gaffer or grip.
I can remember a producer telling me, “You see all the people in [here]? They’re chained to their desks because of houses, cars, bills, kids. They can’t leave, even if they wanted to. If you can do anything else, do it.” Was she trying to run be out of The Biz? No. She was the most honest person I had met in Hollywood. And I am so grateful to her, even today.
We can’t blame people for what we become, but what we become can come from their influence. I’ve come close to marriage once or twice. Future events would teach me what might have been in both instances and now I know I dodged a lot of grief. It’s always exciting to see a possible white-picketed fence in view. I’ve watched groups of close friends yearn for love and marriage, then watched them marry and have kids. The “married with children” crew is also where most of my college buddies ended up and they look pretty happy. I wonder if they really are? Is the grass really greener on their side? I’m pretty sure it’s just as hard to give up being married to chase a career, as it is to give up a career dream to get married and have kids.
Have I given up on the idea of marriage? No. Absolutely not. I want to be married as much as the day my college friend told me I would be. Which brings me to a strong point about coveting something someone else has. You don’t know the journey or sacrifices it took to get there – married, career-successful, or otherwise. Or the pain of loneliness, or being alone in a marriage. I wish people would get this! I wish married people wouldn’t give up on relationships with their single friends. I wish single people wouldn’t isolate themselves from married people they think don’t understand. Guess what, ya’ll? We’re all standing on grass! And everyone needs help keeping it green!
So, now a moment of my own single truth. Yesterday, I got mad. Madder then I have been in a long time. I went to the doctor for my annual check-up. Though I know she didn’t mean to be offensive, my doctor told me about getting genetically tested for cancer markers since certain female-related cancers run in my family. To which she added, “Because if you do have a marker, why not get rid of [the organ] you don’t need or intend to use anyway…" Just to avoid the possibility of getting [cancer]. I was so shocked I didn’t even know what to say. She didn’t even ask me if I wanted to have kids or if I ever would. She just assumed because I am single at my age then I must not. Wow.
Don’t assume you know what someone wants or thinks. Ask them before you make yourself an idiot. I once had a dear friend who was going to have a baby, her second child. I was so excited that I would be able to celebrate with her at her baby shower. I later learned the baby shower had taken place via Facebook post pictures and I had not been invited. I was devastated. Events continued for her children, but I was never invited to them. And I realized it was because I was single, and she had assumed I wouldn’t care for those types of events. Ask, people. Please.
I guess my grass doesn’t look so luxurious green now, does it? Some may envy it, most may not. Fact is, it’s my grass. I love it sometimes, and sometimes I hate it. But it’s my lot in life (pun intended!), and it’s worth all the blood, sweat, tears, heartaches, and joys it has taken to grow it. My hope is that, regardless married or single, you will be able to relate to the importance of embracing where you're at. If you don’t like where you’re at, do something to change it! I know I am. Getting mad can be a good motivator.
I once had a Hollywood producer tell me, “You can’t have it all – the career and a family. It doesn’t exist.” I’m calling her bluff. I can and will have it all. The career. The marriage. The 3.5 kids. The picket-fence. And on some awesomely green grass.
Because no one is going to tell me to “get rid” of my dreams.
Now, sit back and watch me do it.