New York City lifestyle is like a prolonged college-life. Young adulthood lasts for however long you want it to. Every time I go on Facebook, I see that someone else at home in the Midwest has gotten married/ having a baby. When I go home for Christmas I’m always asked about my plans about settling down. I mention those things here in the city and it’s met an attitude of “but we’re doing so much more with our lives.” Mothers at 25 are treated like welfare cases; “How can she have a child so young!” Although, I love to have brunch on a Sunday with friends or go out for a last minute drink with a co-worker after work, I have to question if I could be doing something else while I am at prime childbearing age. Many of my friends are in their 30s, so they tell me constantly not to worry about men or children because I shouldn’t be ready for that. They tell me that they still aren’t and they love their lives. To each her own, but I know how I feel. I want a great career, but at what cost?
I had former co-workers that were in their late 50s and early 60s. They have never been married nor had children. On trips to the break room, I would hear comparisons to my life; “We’re just a couple of single girls.” Another one would say, “I always thought I’d have a big wedding, but life doesn’t always go according to plan. Remember that.” That particular coworker had cats that were like her children which she talked about with her octogenarian mother everyday at 4 PM. She happily did impressions of them on the phone. The fear that this induced in me was shared by my fellow young colleagues. Listening to the stories of older colleagues that they insisted I hear, I realized that they thoroughly enjoyed the fast lifestyle of Studio 54 New York when they were my age. I have heard women in their age range tell me, “Don’t even think about any of that domestic stuff. I never did.” And I see a woman with a job that she visibly hates, who married too late in life to have kids. Her hair is always perfectly blown out and her nails always manicured. For me, it seems selfish.
I did not give up dating, but found that it involves a lot of hooking up without commitment. Being raised Christian, I feel that it is pointless to date without a reason besides he works on Wall Street. As a feminist, that doesn’t feel empowering; maybe to the Cosmopolitan readers, but not to me. The men just can’t commit whatsoever to anyone because they have so much choice in a city that is filled with so many professional single women. My friends who are over 35 are now scrambling to find someone to settle down with.
Often with peers, we have discussions about “getting [my] life together” or “finding myself.” I have gathered that many people believe that to become parents or to be in a committed relationship, everything needs to be perfect. Adulthood is perfection that is achieved after one gets all the partying out their system, and then they will magically be responsible. No riding bikes for fun, no lunches, and no ridiculously expensive clothes. Not long ago people half my age were expected to shoulder immense responsibility because they did not have the luxury to “find themselves.” Even people in other countries in 2011 do not have such luxuries. I am glad to be awarded that luxury, but I do not want to stay in young adulthood forever. I was teased by older friends for cooking my own healthy meals each night rather than dining on the greasy neighborhood fare. They seemed to take it as if I were growing up before them. The same happened when I started my first serious relationship earlier this year. In the past year, I have fought with this concept of growing up, knowing that at 26, I should be at nightclubs drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and taking newly acquainted men back to my apartment or having complicated relationships with guys who have a band. Instead I would rather spend my Friday night meeting with friends for one quick drink, going home to make jewelry all weekend for my business, and cooking on Sunday. I do not do this because I should, but because I want to. The nightclubs did not feel like my world; neither do the art exhibits that are really just a place to meet people to hook up with.
In the past two years, I have learned that my biological clock is ticking and it is okay for me to listen. It does not make me anti-feminist. I believe that parenthood is the best job you will ever have. My parents always say “There is never enough money for kids, don’t make that your only reason for not having kids.” Being married is just about the only career that I would commit myself to outside of my entrepreneurial endeavors. In my late 20s, it is time that I look forward to that part of life rather than just pushing it aside and saying, “I’ll deal with it later.” Now is all you have because later may never come.
Alyson Jon is a designer, blogger, and artist who moved to New York City after graduating from Columbus College of Art & Design to pursue a career in Fashion Design. After reaching that goal, she is currently working to become an entrepreneur. You can find her on Twitter: @alysonjonlife
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.