Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

Assuming "green" is another word for "married college student," that is.

I'd like to start out by saying that I have never for a minute regretted my decision to marry while still in college. Dave and I are very much in love, and it was exactly the right decision for us. We are very happy, love our little life together and love to watch everything fall into place around us.

However, sometimes I can't help but think how nice it would be to just "fit" somewhere. Our pastor, when making a point about how everyone can and should do something, used to say "Now, don't say to me, 'Jim! I'm only a housewife!' or 'Jim! I'm only a student!'" I would sit there thinking "Jim, I wish I was 'just' a housewife or 'just' a student!"

Both jobs are full-time, meaning my time is extremely limited. On top of my two full-time jobs, I carry two part-time jobs (the real kind... where they pretend to give you money and everything). During the school year, all of this business builds up to make me very stressed.

But lately I've been thinking that the stress isn't even the worst part. No, the worst part is the not fitting.

My dad used to try to help me understand people by explaining to me how everyone loves labels. "Rachel," he'd say, "people like things to fit. When they don't fit, they get uncomfortable. They like to label everything, so they'll be uncomfortable with you until they can figure out where you fit and label you."

No, he wasn't trying to tell me to conform, he was simply explaining how things work. Sometimes, people need to instantly know where you stand, so it's easiest to fit yourself into a category.

Unfortunately, I don't fit into a category. I don't know that I ever have, really. But it's painfully obvious now. I suppose it could show up from either direction, but usually people first know me as Dave's wife. If conversation goes on from there, it goes something like this:

"So, how long have you been married?"

"A little over a year."

"Oh, how nice. You two must be so happy."

"Yes, thank you."

"So, do you have any children?"

"Oh no, we've only been married a year, and I'm still in school."

**conversation comes to a screeching halt.** At this point, the woman on the other end of the conversation either gives me a pitying look, or looks at me like I'm insane. Pity is usually accompanied by something like "Oh don't worry, you'll be blessed with a baby soon then you won't have to worry about any of that anymore," and crazy eyes sounds like: "What? In school?"

I don't think anyone's ever gone so far as to say "you're crazy." But that's the sort of thing that shows through the eyes quite easily.

I suppose to a certain extent I can understand. I mean, many people hear "young wife" and think this:

or this:

I suppose I've just dropped the bombshell on them that I am neither of those things, I am, instead, this:

Unfortunately, I think when people hear "college student" when they expected to hear "mommy," they instead see me as this:

Hmm, come to think of it, the Girl Scout does look the most like me. I may have to rethink this whole thing.

Anyway, sometimes I leave parties angry, or at the very least disgruntled. When older women learn that I don't have any babies to talk about, they don't have anything to talk about. Except maybe everything I have to look forward to. Or labor horror stories. Honestly, I'm not sure how those are supposed to encourage me to have children or ever be excited about it.

When younger single girls find out I'm married, they have nothing to say, either. After all, they can't talk about how cute such-and-such a guy is... I'm blind now.

And whenever anyone finds out that I'm a married student, they're struck dumb. Unless they call me dumb. I suppose some people find their tongue in telling me that I should have waited or dropped out. And if I had just gotten married, they'd be looking for the tell-tale bump.

Newsflash: I didn't have to get married. I wanted to. And, I'm still in school because it's important to me. Oh boy is it important to me. It would be so much easier to drop out. But I won't.

Sometimes I want to hand out cards to people before we're introduced, just to save headache. They would look something like this:

But that might be rude.