It’s not very often that I actually sit down and watch television, but I had read about Channel 4’s one-off drama, “I Am Hannah” and felt compelled to tune in. Starring the talented Gemma Chan as the protagonist, the drama told the story of Hannah, a lady in her mid to late 30’s who was single, without children and – in contrast to the questions being thrown at her from her mother and various Tinder dates – not really set on an interest in changing either of those circumstances. The only thing she was sure of, was that she wasn’t sure, but it was clear as the programme went on that the constant enquiries were wearing her out. We saw her have a meltdown a couple of times.
The script resonated with me in a way that I haven’t experienced from television very often, and left me feeling an overall sense of relief. I Am Hannah may have been a piece of fiction, but it was a real piece of fiction, no doubt influenced by the current state of society and the fact that more and more people are choosing to be single, and fewer people are choosing to have children, whether in a relationship or not. Yet, considering the increasing volume of people making these choices and living this way, there seems to be very little acknowledgement or celebration of it as an option.
When typical conversations among groups of 30 year olds are about engagements, weddings, babies… it’s easy to forget that living any other way is actually pretty common, and an increasing number of people are doing it. It’s easy to forget that happiness and purpose can be found down many avenues beyond the traditional ones, but it shouldn’t be, and it wouldn’t be, if only we spoke out about it more. And if as a society we stopped with the echoes of defeatist mantras like, “you’ll find somebody!” when people say that they are single. These only perpetuate the message that happiness depends on being with somebody else and that what you have right now will never be satisfying enough… and that’s a very dangerous realm of thought for anybody to get into.
I am 33 years old, in two months’ time I will be turning 34. Tickedytickedytock. For basically – well forever, since I am older now than I’ve ever been – I have sailed happily on a wave of open-mindedness when it comes to marriage and children. It’s still very much my belief that life is a matter of fate, and is there to be enjoyed no matter what happens and which way you end up living it. There is a massive part of me that feels more inspired by the thought of a non-conventional lifestyle – whatever that might entail – than one dictated by a set of milestones, and the race to reach each one “in time”. Those milestones don’t stop (“So when’s the next one due?”) and quite frankly, I’ve not been to the gym enough recently to believe I have the stamina to cope with engaging with the race. That’s not to say I’m not interested in having a partner or children, there are many things about that particular avenue that are attractive to me too, but it just means I haven’t got my heart set on it.
But, whilst that may have been a useful and healthy way of thinking for 33 years… tickedytickedytock makes you put it underneath the microscope a bit, particularly when you see so many others out there formulating mathematical equations as to when they should meet someone, when they should marry, and when they should start trying for a baby. Then you wonder if you should be doing that yourself. Then you remember you’re not sure you want those things anyway. Then you get up, go and make a coffee and get back to the billion and one other responsibilities you have as an adult – work, paying Road Tax, hoovering. Then before you know it you’ve turned another year older. TICKEDYTICKEDYTOCK!
“But what if I get to 40 then think I’ve made a mistake” says Hannah, to a friend who looks incredibly awkward about the question. And therein lies the nutfuck. The prospect of trying to prepare today for how you might feel in a tomorrow in which you might be a completely different person, that’s assuming you’re lucky enough to still be alive. Yes, who’s to say you won’t change your mind and become desperate for a child? Equally, who’s to say you won’t remain feeling indifferent to parenthood, or – even worse – end up regretting having a child? But, the response to this dilemma isn’t like stockpiling bottles of water because you’ve heard a draught may be ahead. You can’t apply that sort of premeditated logic to this. This involves human life, and I can think of nothing more inappropriate than going through the motions of having a baby I feel indifferent about now just in case I later decide that I want one. I’d like to have a Wagon Wheel right now though, that’s something that I am certain of.
And actually; maybe that’s the only path which is a necessity to take in life. Concerning yourself only with the here and now and letting nature dictate the rest. Being fulfilled by what you have right now whether that’s a husband and kids or an evening with friends and a delicious lemon meringue in the fridge. Making decisions on the basis of how you feel right now because that’s the only emotion you’re sure of. Putting together the model kit that represents your life without any set of instruction or illustration of the final image, only working out on a piece by piece basis of how it’s meant to connect.
We’ll all have a completely different structure in the end.
And how cool is that?
Song of the Day: The Derevolutions – Spinning Twister Sound
This pretty unique band is so vastly under-rated yet they write upbeat Summer tunes like this. What is going on in the world.