“You’re not married?”

February 18 2016

“Not married! You don’t want kids?” I often receive questions regarding my relationship status. My answer, it seems, disappoints/confuses many, as if some defect on my part has rendered me less valuable or ambitious.

A little under three years ago, I came to a developing country, alone, where I have volunteered as a social worker and teacher. I established an education center, built a solar grid and fundraised to bring clothes, scholarships and learning adventures to friends in need. Before arriving in Nepal, I qualified for Boston the first time I ran the NYC Marathon. I counsel students, entrepreneurs and notable personalities. I’ve traveled to over twenty countries, finished my Master’s at Columbia University, completed an original research project and graduated with honors from CU Boulder. I have started pro-social groups for adolescent delinquents and have a baby named after me. I’ve organized events that have brought people together from different disciplines and have maintained a weekly blog since 2012. My writing has been published in journals and online. I’ve listened to stories of immigrants and middle class families struggling to pay bills. I’m working on a book. Yet the question isn’t about what I’ve done or plan to do, it’s who and when I will marry.

This is a question I receive in all parts of the world, developed and less so. My single male friends, also in their 30s, seem to evade this inquiry. Instead, they are asked other success indicators: work, house, salary, dog. Isn’t it time we see each other for who we are instead of expectations we carry?

Isn’t it time to have conversations based upon the individual, without of assumptions of race or age or gender or income? Isn’t it time we listen for what drives another’s actions to hear what fuels their beliefs, their convictions, their dreams?

If we could listen more and judge less, our world would move closer towards that tolerant, respectful place we all deserve.

“What is your greatest accomplishment?” serves a much better bridge for meaningful conversation.