You know the High School idea of the mean girls sitting at one table in the dinner hall, the geeks at another, and the sporty ones elsewhere etc? That still exists. There’s just different categories or cliques now. Women are particularly bad for this. I don’t actually think it’s because people (both women and men) are intentionally categorising people, but more that’s what society has led us to believe needs to happen- we’ve all done it without realising. I’m noticing it because I don’t ‘fit’ in society at the moment- I’m jobless, childless, ‘have no purpose’ and I’m sick without having made any positive health progress for a while. So I spend a lot of time watching how society has taught us to interact. I should probably say that if you’re easily offended you should probably avoid reading this, and emphasise the point that it’s supposed to be funny, not serious or critical.
The two main categories dictated by society seem to be ‘successful in life’ or ‘failure in life’ but there are sub categories too. Let’s start with how to succeed in life:
Getting married/moving in with a partner
If you’re engaged and planning your wedding or planning ‘the big move’ together, your relationship is seen as moving forwards and you’re allowed to give updates on absolutely every detail involved, including every new appliance, paint colour or sequin for your dress that you buy. If you’re in a long term relationship or have been married a while, or have already moved in together, you’re not allowed to talk about such things and you’re not allowed in this category. It doesn’t matter how much you love your partner, it’s not ‘new news’.
Buying a house
People who can buy a new house are obviously succeeding in life. It means that their income is sufficient enough that they have enough money at the end of a month to buy a bigger house. You’re not allowed to just say you want a bigger house though, you have to give ‘hints’ about how you’re trying for a baby because you’ll ‘need the extra room’. If you just want a bigger house for the sake of a bigger house, that’s not being successful, it’s failing in society.
Getting a promotion
You either need to be constantly looking for a better job or getting a promotion. If you’re happy in your current job and love it, you’re failing in life- how will you ever get your bigger house?
Buying a ‘big purchase’
You can put off some of the ‘so, when are you going to have a baby?‘ questions and narrowly avoid the ‘failing’ category if you buy a big purchase. A new car, TV or a second home are appropriate, they have certain status. It can’t be a used car though. Unless you can talk about the amazing features it has.
Trying for a baby
Once you’ve moved in or got married, got your promotion and bought your bigger house, you have to immediately start trying for a baby. And you must tell people about it, but pretend to not be telling people about it, but really tell everyone not to tell anyone about it. That’s the best way to be winning at life. But if you don’t get pregnant straight away, you’re not allowed to say that you can’t get pregnant or it’s taking time, that would be failing. You have to pretend that you’ve decided to focus on your career or your next big house instead. No pressure or anything though.
You’re obviously succeeding in life. You’ve entered the club of women who feel justified in making demands of other people or doing whatever they feel like and blaming it on hormones or baby-brain. If you don’t say one of those phrases at least nine times a day then you’re failing at being pregnant (and therefore life). You’ve also got to talk about your vagina and cervix to everyone later in pregnancy, either directly or indirectly is fine, otherwise you’re failing. You’re also failing if you don’t try to offer tips or consoling sympathy to those couples who didn’t get pregnant as quickly as you did- it really makes them feel better.
Having a baby/children
This is a very exclusive category that no one can possibly understand unless they have a baby or a child. Not enough sleep? Unconditional love? True happiness? Not possible unless you have a baby. If you’re talking about something you’ve done or enjoyed, you have to say whether your child/baby enjoyed it too. Otherwise it doesn’t count. Oh and you have to post 95 photos a day of your child(ren), join in with and be tagged in every parenthood Facebook challenge going round and discuss their pooing/weeing/vomiting habits on your status regularly, otherwise you’re failing at being a parent.
Photo: Non-Motherhood Challenge by Ellie Taylor, BBC Source
PANIC!! You’ve got to the end of the succeeding in life categories! What do you do now?! Start back at the career move, big purchase or trying for a baby stages immediately. Alternatively, make sure you go to as many baby/children and parent groups as possible to remind everyone that you ‘have children’ and are successful. There are obviously other success stages to come, like kids starting school or going to uni or retiring, but it’s not ok to just sit around and wait for those. You must always be actively succeeding in life.
Here are sure ways you will be placed in the category ‘failing in life’:
Not wanting a baby
Why would you choose not to have a baby? You’re clearly a failure of a woman. You’ll change your mind at some point obviously, you don’t know what you’re saying right now.
Being content in your job
Not possible. Everyone can always earn more money. You’re wasting your career if you don’t make some kind of move, particularly if you’re a woman- women had to die for equal rights remember. Wear higher heels to the office to rectify this.
Having something ’embarrassing’ happen to you or your family
If ‘it’ happens to you, you mustn’t talk about ‘it’ because ‘it’s’ too embarrassing. ‘It’ will, of course, be discussed at length when you’re not around. (‘It’ probably isn’t even that ‘bad’ a thing, the jungle drums of the village tribe are what makes ‘it’ ’embarrassing’. But the bottom line is the same: you’ve failed somewhere). I would mention examples, but I’m not supposed to talk about ’embarrassing things’.
There are some subgroups which are undecided as to whether you’re succeeding or failing in life, depending on how you react:
Medically not being able to get pregnant
If you let people give you consoling, pitying glances and are happy to let everyone talk about how brave you are and how it shouldn’t happen to you (mostly behind your back while people are ‘competing’ as to who has the most knowledge), then you are still succeeding in life. Side note: Consoling doesn’t mean you being able to control when you want other people’s support, it has to be when it suits them and you’re not allowed to move on, grieve or be happy at your own pace. You can’t make your situation too much about you, you know. Your purpose in life is to remind everyone how lucky they are. They will regularly make sympathetic noises and clutch their own children to their chest in your presence at random points to demonstrate this. And you can always fall back on your career.
If you take it on the chin and don’t want to play the part of the ‘poor woman who can’t get pregnant’ then you’re failing in life and have no purpose. Plus you’ll never be able to say you know what lack of sleep, unconditional love or happiness are either.
Getting sick/having an illness
Again, you’re succeeding if you’re happy to let people console you and say ‘poor you’ a lot- you’re helping them realise how lucky they are. But it depends on what you get sick with: it has to be judged as serious enough by society in order to qualify. If it isn’t deemed serious or if you don’t want to be pitied, or, worse, if you manage to still be positive about life while being sick, then you’re failing in life. People will still talk behind your back and share information, but it’ll just put you more in the failure box because their interpretation of medical fact clearly counts more than any doctor. Unless you are positive enough to be called an inspiration, but no one really knows the criteria for that.
You have to have a courageous fight with your illness and get better. It doesn’t count if you’re never going to get better or it’s invisible. If you don’t get better after an unspecified period of time, the support stops without warning because it’s carefully rationed out. You’ve got to keep positive, remember.
When someone dies
I think you can guess how it goes by now. Let people console you= succeeding. Reacting in a way that suits you and grieving how you want= failing in life.
Whether you’re ‘succeeding’ or ‘failing’ in life shouldn’t be measured against the rest of society and what everyone else is doing. It should be whatever is right for you. But society conventions are bloody hard to break sometimes!
** I wrote this completely as a joke. If you’re ‘succeeding’ in life, this isn’t a passive aggressive dig – I’m happy you’re happy! 🙂 **