When you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else -- Joseph Campbell.

Love Quest!

Have you ever felt as though you were stuck in a Jane Austen novel? You'd be hard pressed to find sprawling mansions nestled between never ending stretches of perfectly manicured gardens lately - unless you're connected to the Vanderbilts in Newport - or even little tea parties with scones and lemon cake under a lovely lavender umbrella by the river side, but the social expectations and pressures don't seem to melt away. Rather, they keep standing around like brick walls, waiting to block your every move at asserting your independence.

So maybe this post is a little personal (and maybe I’m a little bitter), but the title of this weblog does happen to be Epiphanies, which don’t necessarily have to be limited to the expression of itinerant creative thoughts. Every platform must be backed by a mission statement, but why bother being redundant, no? Yes.

It's been a year since I've graduated, and for an entire plethora of reasons, my plans to head to grad school as a freshly scrubbed graduate ended up buried deep, deep under the sea. It hasn't been all that bad, really. I've found there's a good reason students are advised to take blocks of time off and away from the very cushioned academic environment. Yes, students work part time. Some even full time. And they come from every possible social strata of life. But falling into academia is nothing if not cushioned. If you don't believe me, ask the thousands of graduates who walk right into the arms of the newest phenomenon called the quarter-life crisis.

Coming back to the thought at hand, it's good to take some time off, I've found. You get to meet family you haven't seen for a good four years, you get to travel, you get to meet old friends and hopefully, make some new ones. But most of all, you get to experiment and dabble and get your hands dirty with work you like or positively despise, and for the love of the maker, you get to discover who you really are. Twelve years of formal education and four years of higher education do not a self-aware individual make. You come to understand social settings differently, because now you're expected to be a productive, contributing member.

A significant portion of the contribution, I've learned is procreation. The promulgation of life. At least where I come from, it is. Never mind the trysts with destiny to discover the self. Never mind not rushing into a decision that, ideally, should last a lifetime. Let's just get hitched. All of us. Every single person entering into their mid twenties. I think that by Jane Austen's standards, the mid twenties would be horribly late. By all Indian standards, I've found that I'm well past my expiration date. I'm a crusty, bent out of shape 25 year old who hasn't snagged herself a man yet! (What if I wanted a woman, instead? I don't, but that's besides the point. What if???)

And yet, the feverish obsession with marriage seems to not be an exclusively Indian obsessions.
This is how some of my conversations look with some of my Western acquaintences.

Stranger: Are you married yet?

Neha: Yet? What do you mean yet?

Stranger: Well...it's been a year since you've graduated. I mean...when are you going to get married? At least find yourself a boyfriend.

Neha: Sure I will. I'll be the first one in line once they have boys at the local farmer's market. I hear their turnover is fabulous.

Stranger: You know, you really shouldn't play with your future. Don't you want to find your Prince Charming? What happens to you when you grow old? Don't you want someone to take care of you?

Neha (groaning, very overtly): Dude, I would, but the minute Prince Charming sets his eyes on my life, he heads for the hills in a hailstorm. He wants to save his own damn ass.

I kid you not, I've had these conversations, and many more with the standard, expected variations. I'm trying to realize why a woman who is more than capable of financially and intellectually supporting and sustaining herself, has deep interests in art, poetry, fine dining and wine, books and writing, and plenty of friends with whom to share these passions with, needs to be afraid of turning into an old maid with naught but a spinning wheel by the light of a fading candle to keep her company. I have visions of Rapunzel stuck up in a tower.

Have you ever noticed how girls are conditioned to search for "The One" from the word go? We have entire sections in libraries and book stores dedicated to fairytales and the search for true love. Little girls made to feel like little princesses. Little boys told to go clean the yard. Little girls handed make up before they hit the ripe old age of 10. Little boys told to go build a tree house. Harlequin romances, love songs, Shakespeare, Neruda, Barbara Cartland, the 15 year old boy next door professing his undying love to a beat up Camaro with rusted hubcaps, magic wands and fairy dust.

So really, the measure of my life is not a sum total of my accomplishments, but really an evaluation of how much I mean to the one person who can come rescue me from the depths of depravity my life seems to lie around in. I might be bitter, but not because I'm unhinged, foot loose and fancy free.


bi said...

I find great reason to be bitter about "the one". We train ourselves to be discontented and feel incomplete without a male to save us from our own lives, yet we are the only ones with the power to change where we stand.

Ironic that a ring and a man are so highly revered, though most other dependencies with such long lasting symptoms are considered to be drugs.

Just a thought.

Michael Blowhard said...

Hey, Neha's back! I'd had no idea. Great to see/read you again!

neha said...

Neha is definitely back! It's wonderful to see you back here again! Somebody took over Wanderlust and killed it and I never got to see it again. It was a travesty, really.

But no matter...I'm up with Epiphanies and I can't wait to get into the swing of things. I hope you've been well.