3 Questions to Avoid this Holiday
This is truly one of my favorite times of the year. The magic of the season, the lights, the gifts, the decorations, the food, the parties. Ah the parties! Which of course include conversations that inevitably lead to questions about your personal life. Questions asked with no mal-intent, but can leave party goers with a dose of anxiety, sadness and sometimes even shame.
We live in a world of categories. Single, married, mother, father. Our personal development is even broken into life stages that leave little room for differences.
My goal for every one of my clients is to feel confident in being the most authentic version of themselves at any life stage. However when it comes to gatherings, it is only a matter of time before people become curious about other's stories and begin asking questions. What we often do not realize is the impact this curiosity can have.
The big 3:
“So are you dating anyone?”
In the spirit of authenticity and true transparency this is my frustration inducing question. I truly know my friends mean no harm when they ask me this question. I am 30 and single and have been open about the fact that I would love to meet a wonderful man someday. However, dating is hard and takes a lot of energy. I am at a point in my life and career that I am carefully choosing where that energy goes and I am happy with my current story. However, when I am anticipating seeing someone that I know is going to ask that question I start to feel nervous and anxious. I know my answer is going to be a simple, confident “nope” followed by an awkward silence or “oh that’s ok” and it leaves me feeling as if I am doing something wrong and need to immediately start making excuses, explaining myself or pull out my phone and start swiping right.
I guarantee if there is someone special in your single friends life they will tell you about it when they are ready. In the meantime, generically ask them about their life or their work. Allow them to share with you what their priorities are and tell you about the things they are choosing to focus on
”Do you think this will be the year he finally pops the question?”
No matter how confident you are in your relationship as soon as someone ask you this question it is a natural instinct to start wondering. Knowing that everybody else is anticipating the little box under the tree can make the individual feel more shame when it turns out that box was actually a necklace. If your friend or family member sees you as a safe person she will come to you if she needs help processing her feelings around where she is in her relationship.
Then there are those who don’t ever want to get married. It is becoming more common place to live together your whole life and never walk down the aisle. When we assume people want their “big day” with the 3 tiered wedding cake we are continuing to put them in cookie cutter boxes of how society tells us life should be. Instead just ask them about their life together and allow them to share their happiness in how they are writing their story.
“When are you going to have a baby?”
First and foremost a special hello and love sent to the beautiful women fighting the infertility battle.
If you read nothing else in this blog please remember these wonderful women and how painful this question is for them. Not everyone is open with their infertility struggle and there are many women suffering in silence. They want more than anything to have a baby and some have no idea how to answer this question, or may be physically unable to answer because of the wave of emotion it brings on. Please be aware of this and allow people to share their plans and desires on their own terms.
Second, a special shout out to the couples who choose to be so authentically themselves that they say “babies aren’t our thing”. I met a woman several years ago at a baby shower. She had been married a few years so inevitably she was asked when they were going to start trying. She informed us she and her husband didn’t think they wanted kids. I never forgot that moment. While there were awkward mumbles and questions asked, I was left thinking how brave she was. This couple was looking inward and realizing kids were not something they felt drawn to have. As someone who sees daily how hard parenting is and the amount of effort it takes, I praise those that say it’s not what their heart wants.
Christmas is not about walking on eggshells so please know that is not what I am asking you to do. I am simply asking that you be aware of the bravery and courage it takes to say " you know what the stereotypical life stages aren’t for me" and respect their choice to pave their own way. It is each individual’s responsibility to deal with their own shame these questions may bring up for them. But going against the grain is hard enough without constant reminders of how unusual it is or constantly explaining or questioning ones choice to be different.
This year challenge yourself to avoid these questions and celebrate the different stories individuals’ write for themselves. I think that makes a much more interesting and magical world!
Happy Holidays Everybody!