Nobody Can Have It All8:00 AM
I graduate almost exactly a year from now. I'm facing life-altering decisions. Marriage. Children. Career. Part-time job. My education affects the kind of jobs I can get. The kind of jobs I get affects future goals. Who I marry changes a lot. Whether I have children or how many children I have will alter job opportunities, lifelong dreams, and future projects.
Obviously, life has always presented me with open doors and many options. I'm just conscious right now that every door I walk through may slam shut and lock another door.
If I say "I do" to my chemistry-minded, quiet, athletic-but-bookish boyfriend, I close off all the alternate universes where I'm the wife of a pastor or a philosopher or an extrovert or a romantic. Not that those options are even available practically, but theoretically, I had those opportunities, and now I don't.
If I get married straight out of college, my choices of grad school and work shrink. If I add a child to that mix, those options pretty much get wiped off the table for quite a while.
This is what it means to "make a life," right? To make decisions and face the consequences, good or bad, that stem from them.
It's incredibly exciting to do this life thing, to step into fuller being, to window shop the myriad of lives available to me. And it's also ridiculously scary. What if I make a stupid decision? What if I get into a job field I hate? What if my marriage brings less happiness than I wanted? What if I end up hating motherhood? What if I can't have children or don't get married or end up working retail for the rest of my life? Even as a college kid, I know: it's hard to make dreams happen when you've got bills to pay and lives to love.
It helps to remember that nobody can have it all. The more conservative side of Christianity likes to remind women of that, to trap them into an either/or of marriage and children or careers and hobbies. And they're right that nobody can have it all in an absolute sense: nobody can embody three different lives and do all those things that three different lives can do more fully. Nobody can. Not a college girl, not a mother, not a grad school guy, not a husband. Nobody can have it all.
Whether in the blink of now or in the eternal time scale, yes to something means no to something else. Yes to the Shakespeare play means no to sleeping in Saturday mornings. Yes to this internship means no to unlimited writing time. Yes to marriage means no to independent living. Yes to children means no to sleep, sanity, and almost everything else in life. (I exaggerate. I hope I exaggerate? I have a lot of young fathers as professors who make me think I'm maybe not exaggerating.)
I really do get to make a life...a singular, finite life with a definite past, a quickly-ending present, and future of possibilities gradually limited by that past and present. I'll grab on to this life I alone can live -- grab on and hold on for dear life. I've got one shot, after all. No second drafts. And that's okay. I'll celebrate with contentment the life I live and cheer on the lives everybody else lives. . .because while nobody can have it all, we can have all of it right now.
Are you facing big life decisions? How do you handle them?