Poor Delusional Me
Being a single bloke in his forties draws all kinds of comments, suggestions, inferences and questions from a broad cross-section of people, with responses ranging from pity to surprise, through to outright jealousy. Apparently the most interesting thing about me (for some people) is my wife-less-ness (Craigism). Clearly there’s something weird, dark and dysfunctional about me that needs to be explored and explained.
Or… I could just be a happy, single bloke.
Women periodically feel sorry for me (while simultaneously trying to hook me up with their sister, cousin, neighbour or girlfriend), while blokes have been known to ask if I’d be interested in trading lives with them. According to some people, I must be miserable, lonely, unfulfilled and emotionally inept. Apparently I just think I’m happy; I’m just telling myself that to make ‘me’ feel better about being tragically single. And lonely. Poor delusional Craig.
Gotta say, my delusion is quite the place. You should visit.
The Happiness Fraud
After all, we live in our head and we create our own reality don’t we? So if I think I’m happy and I feel happy then that would make me… happy. Wouldn’t it? Nope, apparently I’m in denial. Consciously happy but subconsciously miserable. All this time and I didn’t realise. So ignorant of me. I’ve been a happiness fraud without knowing it. I best start working on my frown. And my country music CD collection. If only I could find an unhappy married person to challenge the marriage-happiness correlation theory. As if I’m gonna find one of them.
A Rubik’s Cube with Hair
Last time I spoke about being single on my site I was inundated with feedback on the matter. I personally seem to go through cycles where my wife-less-ness is of greater or lesser interest to other people. For me, it’s a non-issue but it seems that some people are always trying to figure me out. Apparently I’m some kind of complex human puzzle that needs to be solved. Or cured perhaps. Someone raises the subject with me at least once a week. Never smoked, never consumed alcohol, never been married = weird. At least once a week I hear something like “it’s strange that someone in your position (my position?) isn’t married.” Okay, it’s official; I’m strange. If not me, my situation.
Ticking the Boxes
But this article is not about my marital status, it’s about pressure, standards, expectations and the unwritten rules. You know the rules. Living in Western Society there are certain boxes which (allegedly) need to be ticked if we’re going to fit in and be seen as normal. The irony of normal being that while it’s apparently desirable, it’s not necessarily where happiness lives. In reality, some people’s (version of) normal is actually what provides them with the most pain, frustration and grief. We think we want normal but perhaps what we really want is exceptional. Abnormal even. After all, take a look at society’s normal and it ain’t really that attractive. In fact, we could say that it looks kinda broke, a little chubby, somewhat unhealthy, not particularly happy and decidedly unfulfilled (miserable) with it’s career.
Of course there are the accepted (expected maybe) social standards and behaviours; kind of like a life TO DO list. It’s not always spoken of… but it exists. All the stuff us normal folk are meant to do over the course of our normal lives. Marriage (at least once), kids (2.3 of them), annual holidays (2-4 weeks, somewhere warm), buy a house (pay it off over two hundred years – can’t go wrong with real estate), a sensible job (large firm, good conditions, something secure, potential for progression), weekly attendance at a house of worship (keeping in mind the eternal consequences of non-attendance)… you get the point. Of course there’s nothing wrong (at all) with aspiring to marriage, a good career, financial success, a couple of rug rats or a respected place in the congregation or the after-life, but the problem lies in our (society’s) consensual thinking that ticking these boxes automatically provides an individual with a better (more balanced, more fulfilled, more worthwhile, happier) life than the person who ticks zero (of those) boxes.
The Enormity of Conformity
On some level we all want to fit in, but it seems that in trying to blend in with the landscape of humanity we often lose our purpose, our individuality and our sense of self. We lose, or maybe never discover, the real us. The us we could be. Should be. Rather than exploring our potential, our talent, our curiosities and our passion, we become what’s expected of us. We tick boxes. We keep parents happy. Bosses happy. We say the right things. Do the right things. We conform. We become another clone. And living in a world which so often punishes individuality, conformity is understandable. Sad, but understandable.
I often think about the impact that the great unspoken TO DO list has on our lives. The rules, the expectations, the pressure, the confusion, the embarrassment and even the shame of not conforming, not ticking all the boxes and not living up to society’s standards or the expectations of others in our world. Some of us have spent far too much time, ticking way too many boxes. Perhaps it’s time to stop.