Your Station or Mine?

Recently I had someone start a conversation with me by asking, “So, what’s your life station? Married? Any kids?” I was taken aback by the directness of the questions and the hour of day in which it was asked (7:00AM, pre-coffee), and so I reacted the same way I always do when anyone asks me a question I don’t think I should have to answer: I answered it. “Nope, not married. No kids.” Then I did what I always do after I answer a question I didn’t want to answer: I changed the subject. “You look fit. Tell me, do you work out?” It’s a wonderful avoidance technique I’ve been honing for the better part of three decades.
 
Initially when the question, “What’s your life station?” was asked of me, this flush of embarrassment came over me, Oh God, I don’t have any kids. I’m not married. I’m not even dating anyone. I should go ahead and put my deposit down at the convent now in case they run out of single occupancy rooms. God knows I wouldn’t want a roommate. But as soon as the embarrassment arrived, it left. That feeling of defectiveness or unworthiness in the social hierarchy was replaced with, I don’t have any kids! I’m not married! I’m not even dating anyone! Yes!
 
This is not a slight against married people or parents. Both marriage and parenthood are wonderful institutions. Maybe someday I will be married (to a man, not God, that is) and have children. And maybe I won't. So I find myself grateful for this time alone to figure out who I want to be, what I want to do, and how I want to best contribute to the world around me. 
 
I’m single, have no children, left a lucrative job to chase a dream, and depending on whom you ask, kind of homeless, and have never been happier. For much of my life I have looked to circumstances and others to tell me how I should feel about myself, comparing my life to others'. What does she have (that I don’t)? How much (more) does he make (than me)? Who do they know (that I don’t)? But that thinking has never—not once—been productive.
 
Today, my station is just that, my station. I get to tell me how I feel about me. I get to assign value to my life. Of course I have days when I feel like a fire sale reject. I’m human. But the less I do of comparing myself and my life to others’ and the more I do of living in alignment with what feels like me, the more useful I become. And for me, there is no greater gift than a sense of purpose.