.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Isn't it pretty?

Friday, August 17, 2007

What Shidduch Crisis?

There has been a lot of talk recently on one of the Yahoo! Groups that I am a member of about the shidduch crisis. Comments have been made about the price shadchanim charge to set singles up, about the lack of venues for singles to meet, about the nasty things that are said to females who are not a size 2 or do not dress themselves to the nines for dates. Suggestions were also made for solutions and constructive projects in order to attempt to help alleviate this crisis in addition to attempts being made to explain the perspective and feelings of singles who sometimes get inappropriate comments made about their single status.

I was discussing it briefly with a friend, and she asked me, "Do you really think there is a singles crisis?" After thinking about it briefly, I responded that I actually think there is much more wrong with the mind-set about singles than the fact that people are actually single.

Ezzie wrote about a similar view a while back when rabbis were calling for guys to start dating younger in order to balance out the male-female imbalance in the dating circuit. He argued that this was a horrible idea, and I'm quite inclined to agree with him.

Here's what I think the issue is. Singles are given way too much pressure to marry too young, and before they are really ready to handle being married. At the age of 21, some girls are being pressured and made to feel awful about themselves because they are not yet married. 21 years old! They have so much to do with their lives, and many of them are in the middle of school or training programs. If they get married, and are forced to quit these programs, along with the pressure given to pop out a kid immediately, it is going to be very difficult for these girls to ever help out financially in their families. Couple this with the fact that guys are encouraged to learn full-time, and not be gainfully employed before getting married and you now have a couple who is untrained to work and unqualified to do much besides collect welfare. Great, that's a nice picture of a good Jewish family to display to the world.

What's wrong with encouraging women to wait a couple years before starting to date, therefore giving them the opportunity to achieve goals other than being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Or pushing a guy to wait to get married until he has a degree and a plan to earn a salary to support his family? Hmmm, to me it sounds like a wise and responsible plan, rather than a crisis in the making.

Furthermore, even for those singles in their late 20's and 30's - I still don't see what a huge crisis it is to be single. I have friends getting married all over the place - of all ages. It does happen and a lot of those people really know themselves and, I think, are making much wiser decisions about marriage. Likewise, they are much more economically ready to deal with the realities of supporting themselves rather than expecting their often already financially strained parents to support them.

I understand the stress of a woman in her late 30's and older, with her "biological clock" ticking and worrying about whether she will be able to have a child. But for someone in her late 20's, it's not that much of an issue. And to have rude people make comments like, "Aren't you old to not be married" (yes, I have received this one) is ridiculous. I have lots I want to do in my life. One of those things is getting married, but it is not the only thing. And honestly, I am very happy that I was not married at 19 because I like the fact that I have had the opportunity to do things other than just have kids. I want a family, but I want more than that also. And there's nothing wrong with that.

So basically, I think the crisis is in thinking that everyone needs to get married off super young. There are other things in life, and every person should be encouraged to explore his or her interests and passions. A person should not solely be steered by communal pressure dictating what one "should" be doing in life. I think if more people accept that, then they will be able to view those who are single much differently. Let people get married in their own time. Let them lives their own lives. Maybe that would also alleviate the skyrocketing divorce rate. Just a thought.

Just a note - I do know that there are other issues involved that I have not addressed, but in general, I think a shift in outlook about marriage and singles is necessary in today's Orthodox Jewish society, regardless of the other issues. It's certainly worth a try.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lessons from Moving

I'm all moved in to my new place. It was a stressful ordeal, from beginning to end. And I still have a lot of work to do, but it's really the good kind of work - organizing and getting everything all pretty in my new place.

Throughout this whole situation, I've learned some things about myself and about others. Since I don't have anything to write about at the moment, I figured I would share.

About myself -

- It's ok to ask for help. It takes a lot to get me to that point, but when I do, the world does not come crashing down nor do I lose my strengths. There are just some things that I can't handle all by myself.
- I'll persevere.
- The little things really do mean a lot to me. The small things that people have done for me have meant a lot.
- When I am a good friend to someone, they are often a good friend in return.
- When in stress, it's good to get away from it and enjoy times that are completely unrelated to the situation. It gives me energy to get through more.
- I suck at packing ;)

About Others -

- People help in the ways they can. This may not always be the way that I need help. But they do what they can to the best of their ability.
- Some people really come through in times of need. They go out of their way, at their inconvenience, to do what they can to help.
- Some people really only care about themselves.
- Often, those you wouldn't have expected to be there, are. These people are sometimes those you don't even know that well.
- Some people are really thoughtful and their shows of concern are very special.
- Some people are really good at packing.

About Life -

- A situation like this is not the end of the world. It will pass, though it is genuinely stressful.
- You have to have perspective.
- Hang on tight to those people who are really there for you - they are worth having in your life and working to keep in your life.

All in all, I don't want to do this again. People keep telling me that I'll be able to look back and see that it is all for the best - I have to admit that I'm not sure, that I have my doubts. But I got through, and I found some real friends and some qualities in people that I hadn't before seen. I'll take what I can from the experience.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Brauch Dayan Emes

I've been asked to let the Blogosphere know some very sad news. Unfortunately, Sarah's mother, Gittel Chava bas Pessia, who had been in critical condition, passed away over Shabbos. Baruch Dayan Emes. May Sarah and her family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sarah and her family.

Hamakom Yenachem Eschem B'Soch She'ar Avalei Tzion V'Yerushalayim.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Four Years Ago Today...

"Ok, a Blog for my musings. I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but wasn't sure how I felt about exposing my thoughts to the public forum. Oh well, I figure that probably not that many people will read it anyway!"

And with the above words, this blog was launched, exactly four years ago, in a small corner of a boring office in Baltimore.

I'm still not sure how I feel about exposing my thoughts in a public forum, a forum which has become more and more public throughout the years. What started as a semi-anonymous secret that I told no one about has become a big part of my life and the way in which I have met many people, lots of whom I would consider friends and many who really have been embedded in the fabric of my life (how's that for a nice metaphor?).

Ok, so here goes the compulsory "things that have changed" list:

In the past four years:

I've gone back and finished my Bachelor's degree.
I've moved to the NY area.
I've finished 2/3 of my master's degree.
I've learned how to navigate the subways in NY (most of the time).
I've looked at people standing on 34th Street and scoffed, "Tourist."
I've built a long blogroll of fellow bloggers whose writing and thoughts I enjoy.
I've inspired a couple people to start blogging (at least, they let me take credit).
I've developed a strong affection for purple and glitter.
I've learned a drop about HTML and how to make my blog look kinda cool.
I like to think that my writing has improved, and I've learned a bit about myself through introspecting my way through posts.

I keep telling myself I'm going to quit this blog. Walk away and never look back. It could happen any day, but I think I'm gonna try for a nice, round five years. Hopefully, I have enough more thoughts in me to last one year. And I am quite sure that my internship this coming year will provide some interesting anecdotes, stories and learning experiences to share.

Ok, I'm trying to come up with something profound but it's not really happening. Basically, I just want to say that four years of blogging has given me more than I ever expected it to - it's taught me about myself, about people, about stalkers (I'm not the only one out there!), about writing, about being open (and when not to be), about building a community based on thoughts. And that's way more than I ever expected. Here's to four years!