"And the daily engagement and pregnancy announcements continue... #thelifeofatwentysomething :)"
About a month ago I tweeted the above statement. I didn't mean it as a negative (note the smiley face) but more just as a matter of fact. I am in my mid twenties---the next two decades will be full of announcements. We're adults and these are normal milestones that begin to happen with increasing frequency in adulthood (until it peaks and the trend starts to go the other way).
Graduations, new jobs, moves to new cities, engagements, weddings, pregnancies, travels...these are big things, exciting things! Yet they seem to be met with a mixture of strong reactions and with more frequency...negativity or annoyance. It's a little disheartening to me. These are milestones meant to be met with joy...so what's the issue?
Here's some of the possibilities I've come up with in my musings:
1. The Constant Barrage of Announcements
People seem grumpy about the amount of announcements. Maybe they're not against your pregnancy specifically, but you are just one more announcement in the sea of estrogen. Maybe it's just annoyance at the general excessiveness. Or maybe, the constant reminder that you are not in that phase.
2. Being in a Different Place in Life
There is a very wide range of reactions when you're not in the same place as others. For all those single people out there seeing the influx of milestone announcements, it can incite a reaction anywhere from jealousy to disdain. If you want those milestones, and don't feel anywhere close to attaining them, seeing the announcements can make you depressed, sad or jealous. It can be hard to be happy for others when you're hurting. On the other end, maybe you don't want those things right now, or ever. It can make you feel outcast, weird, or judged to want nothing to do with marriage or parenthood.
3. Lack of True Community
I think what it comes down to is lack of true community, or at least, an excess of superficial community. And yes, as usual, I am picking on Facebook a little bit.
Facebook and other social media sites allow us to stay up to date on the lives of...well everyone we've ever encountered if we really want to and they agree to participate. For example, I've been able to reconnect with people I went to elementary school with. Without Facebook I'd probably have never seen any of them again much less known about their marriages, kids, and divorces. But I do know about those things. Unlike any generation before mine I suddenly know whats going on in each and every one of their lives whether I really know them on a truly personal level or not.
Now obviously, I enjoy the benefits of Facebook and social media even as I am being critical of them. I like knowing whats going on in the lives of friends I don't have the time or ability to keep up with otherwise. It's also enabled me to develop better relationships with acquaintances. But the downside is this barrage of milestone announcements from people we aren't close to anymore or barely knew to begin with. In a way, it is devaluing the announcements for those people making them and the people who really do care about them.
I'll admit I am excited about reaching my own milestones and I selfishly want my friends and families to be as excited as I am about them as they come.
Everyone has insecurities, and most people care what others think on some level. So whether we are being annoyed at the barrage or are feeling hurt by friends we expected to share our joy...we're all pretty focused on ourselves and how all these milestones make us feel.
I guess my challenge is this: Regardless of which side you fall on...try to consider the other person. Whether that means being understanding of the friends who are reacting unpleasantly or choosing to celebrate the joys of others even if they cause you pain or just plain annoy you. Part of building real community is the willingness to invest in others.
So here's to milestones: marriages, babies, or lack there of...we're all celebrating life together.