Essays & Thoughts, On Jobs & Careers, On Motivation, On Relationships

Laugh Without Fear

An Essay by Julianne Day Ignacio

I have reached that age when I just laugh if people ask me whether I have a boyfriend yet or how many kids I want to have in the future.

Like, calm down. 💁🏻

Take a breath, grab a seat, and relax. Let me clarify a few things.

AHEM.

There is no point in worrying about me.

I repeat: there is no point in worrying about me. 

I may not have it all figured out just yet, but I am an adult. I am a full-grown woman holding down her own fort with a full-time job, a part-time job, as well as graduate school and diving into artistic passion projects. I can handle making my own decisions. I have a mind of my own, and I am more than capable of thinking for myself.

There is no point in worrying your lovely little head over whether or not I’m going to get married, or get pregnant, or have kids, or buy a house and a car and move to the suburbs. (I’ve always wanted to live in my own apartment in the city, anyway.) That’s for me to figure out and for you to start minding your own personal life.

I swear you’ll feel so much better if you just stuffed your face with cake and ice cream instead of asking me whether I’ve gained weight or not. I swear you’ll feel better about yourself if you asked your significant other about how their day went instead of suggesting that I need to go out and “find someone.” I’d rather find myself first—actually, no—I’d rather create a life for myself that’s goddamn worth living. Don’t tell me I wear too much makeup. Don’t tell me I don’t wear enough. I swear you’ll feel better if you revisited your own bucket list. Perhaps there are a few things you’ve always wanted to try, but never got the opportunity.

I may aim to please, but that doesn’t always mean that I owe you a pleasant attitude just because I’m a seemingly nice and sweet Asian woman. Fuck that. Fuck the silence of the China Doll or the Geisha Girl. I ain’t your Barbie. I’m not your mail-order bride. I’m not going to bow down to you just because you’re a man, or you’re older than me, or you’re richer than me. No fucking way. I may be a bitch, and I may get shit done, but I am not your bitch. I am my own person, and I refuse to play into those tired old tropes and those sappy stereotypes to make you feel comfortable. To make you feel like you’re somehow a man. No. A real man won’t pressure me. A real man lets me be. A real man understands that for a woman to truly feel loved, she has to feel liberated and free. (I’m a real woman without you. You’re a real man without me. Get with it.)

Love means nothing if you have to lock away your feelings for the sake of living the lie of another’s lust.

If I sound intense, it’s because I live with intention, despite the impulsivity of my momentary youth. Yes, even at my age, I am fully aware of my own existentialism. Whether I consider it a “crisis” or not is debatable, but it most certainly is not up for you to debate. (Hint: I’m not in a crisis.)

Marriage, kids, the whole starting a family fairytale fantasy… I’ll get to them when I get to them. Don’t get me wrong—I want the opportunity to experience those things. But I also won’t beat myself up for feeling like I’m falling behind, just because most other people at my age are getting engaged, getting married, having babies, or celebrating their anniversaries. They deserve to be happy. And heck, so do I. But I’m not just going to settle for the sake of “settling down” just because I’m three years shy of reaching thirty. I’m going to live my life it at my own pace and on my own terms. Happiness is not an achievement; it’s a state of being. It’s a choice.

You can choose to be confined by your circumstances, or you can choose to confront the challenges that await you.

And what’s so wrong about being a “cat lady”? It’s not exactly an insult if you do genuinely want to adopt a couple of kittens. Cats are sassy, intelligent, independent creatures who make you earn their trust. And if I happen to eventually find a life partner who loves me and also adores kittens, all the merrier.

FIRST, let me figure out how to start my own company and be my own boss. 👩🏻‍💻 (And have a little fun while doing so.)

It would be nice if people asked me about my personal interests rather than project their idea of how my life ought to look like according to their psychologically conditioned cultural expectations.

Because if you know me well, you’ll know that I’m not exactly a traditionalist.

I’m a nerd, I’m a rebel, and I laugh without fear of the future.

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