A few months ago, I was talking to an older man about getting married and starting a family. I mentioned that I hope to someday have a little brood - lots of babes running around, because that's how I grew up and loved it so much.
How old are you? He asked without missing a beat.
29, I told him, thinking, oh boy, here we go.
Well. You better get started! You don't have much time, he told me quickly, casually before walking away.
I laughed and agreed, but wanted to say: Really?? That is brand new information!
He meant no harm - in fact, he probably thought he was helping me out. Giving me a little tip about the ole ovaries, in case I missed that class in biology.
But, what I felt, deep down, was shame. I felt like he'd taken the glass of cold water in his hand and dumped it on my head. He thought he was helping me cool off, when, in actuality, he made me feel like I'd been part of a drive-by shaming, leaving me soaked and speechless.
And this happens all of the time to women. It's the casual remarks, most often:
Have you thought about online dating?
You can meet your husband anywhere, you know.
A baby looks good on you!
Better get started; you don't have much time!
Why haven't you found a husband yet?
Maybe you're just too picky.
A therapist once told me that the most shaming question we can ask someone is: What's new? Because it sends people into a spiral, trying to come up with something, anything new they could share. When, in reality, a lot of us are thinking:
Well, still single. No kids. Same job. Same apartment. Nope, no pets. Nope, no promotion.
At the heart of it, no one is trying to tell you that you aren't enough as you are. But, the problem is that we're already primed for these messages to land. The world sends us constant reminders to get better, do better and be better:
Get prettier with more makeup
Get skinnier with more exercise
Be more productive with this service
Be more lovable with this app
Be more likeable with this purse
Be smaller, be more productive, be busier, be happier...
These daily messages create the perfect runway for small, meaningless comments to land perfectly, leaving us wondering if the world was right to send those messages after all. Leaving us wondering if maybe we aren't good enough as we are.
I can't help but wonder what would happen if we just stopped buying into it. If I'd replied to that man: Oh yes sir, that is probably true. But I'm doing my best and that's all I can do today. If we stopped buying into the idea of scarcity. If we believed that neither a baby nor husband nor dream job can make us more lovable. If we believed we are enough and we do enough. Because, our worth is undeniably in the fact that we were designed to exist. Our lives matter regardless of what we do or achieve. Our lives matter because we are children of God and, in that identity, we are enough.