In my post entitled, "I (Do or Don't) Wanna Grow Up" I mentioned that I had a wedding to go to this week, didn't want to go, and wasn't quite sure why. I discussed what I didn't think was the reason for not wanting to go tothe wedding (jealousy) but didn't get to what the reason actually was.
The reason why I didn't get to the reason why I didn't want to go to the wedding is because I still didn't know why. It took me until after I got home from the wedding to figure it out.
Yes, I went to the wedding despite the fact that I really, really, didn't want to. And I smiled and danced even though I didn't want to do those things either. That was after a margarita and half an apple martini. I'm not a drinker, but I thought it would help me be a bit more freilich (Yiddish: joyous). I really wanted to be happy at the wedding; it's a big mitzvah (generally translated as, "good deed") to make the bride and groom happy on their wedding day, and there's no way that you're going to do that if you yourself aren't happy.
I did my best, honest. And I think I managed pretty well up until I left. Which was early. I'm blaming it a headache from the music, which was so loud it had babies screaming, and possibly on the alcohol. Subconsciously, however, it was more than that.
It took me a little while to figure out why I was so uncomfortable about going to and being at the wedding. It wasn't the fact that I was among the top five oldest single girls there. (At 23!) It wasn't that I was jealous of the bride, because I most definitely (as I mentioned in my earlier post) was not.
It was the older women staring at me that clued me to what all my negative feelings about this event were really about:
It wasn't about me being unhappy with myself; with me being single or "old". It was the community's attitude about me being single that was bothering me. At an event celebrating a wonderful simcha (joyous occasion) where everyone was thrilled for the 19 year old bride (including me), there I was, being pitied for not being married yet.
The looks I got as women said to me, "G-d willing you should get married very soon too," irked me terribly because they spoke volumes about the attitude of the community that being single at 23 is a tragedy.
I've written about this before so it shouldn't have taken me so long to figure out what it was about this wedding that upset me; it was being in a place where I am looked at as a tragic case because I'm not married, which is, after all, the only thing I'm good for, right?
Wrong! The attitude of these women that I must be so unhappy because I'm not married points to a general community attitude of marriage being the only way a woman can go for happiness. A dangerous attitude, in my perspective, because as I've said before, it's better to be single than sorry.
Being at a wedding celebrating a 19 year old girl getting married, where everyone is thrilled for her while I'm considered a tragedy is what I was subconsciously dreading. I, thank G-d, am happy with where I am in life. I'm not jealous of the bride, in fact I'm very happy for her. But in a community where getting married at 19 is considered the best thing that could happen to a girl, being at an event celebrating that "best thing" wasn't easy.