Where Have We Gone, Girls?


A strange thing happens when I start seeing someone new. I think about them, a lot, and I start to think about all of the things I usually think about a lot less. That may not seem like that strange of a thing – after all, getting close to someone is exciting. For me, though, this phenomenon causes anxiety because I like the things that go on in my head when my emotional energy is not spent decoding another person.

I know I am not alone here. In the movie Gone Girl the main female character goes crazy after losing herself to her husband’s desires. A cosmopolitan intellectual woman moves to a Midwestern suburb to be a housewife, where her previous modes of stimulation are mostly unavailable. To me, “gone girl” is a reference not to the main character’s disappearance in the story, but rather to the question of where people go when they find themselves absorbed into someone else. What happens to a woman when her dreams are deferred for her family, or to a man when he looks up one day and the aspirations he had for himself are nowhere in sight?

I fear for my dreams often, regardless of whether or not I am not dating someone. However, when I like someone my fear is heightened because I feel myself catering to that person’s desires more than my own. In these situations I ask myself, where have you gone girl? Where do any of us go?

What happened to the “bossy” girls who led group projects in elementary and middle school? It is no coincidence that in almost every region of the country girls are the ones who do better in school, who lead projects, who lead student councils – they lead as a natural extension of their abilities. So where do they go? People ask this question all the time now since more females than males graduate from college, yet there is still an overwhelmingly large proportion of males running the mechanisms of the country.

My question about it is more personal. When I took the lead in school it was something very natural, it was not something I forced myself to do. Curiosity drips from my pores and a tendency toward productivity propels me often. I knew other girls like this too – in dance classes, in band, in choirs — yet no one ever vocalized an expectation of us to become CEOs or world leaders, even though it would make plenty of sense. But everyone, even the less old-fashioned, expects us to find love — myself included.

I’m not indicting anyone on anything here, which is unusual for me because typically I can pinpoint a cultural critique in anything. This is more of an observation of my own behavior – a question of why my mind succumbs so easily to thoughts of love, yet so often toils over thoughts related to my own ambition.

The dream is that one day a person will come along who inspires my creativity to the point that being with him encourages my own mind. I’ve not quite found that yet, and to be honest the pursuit of it takes up more of my brain space than I’d like to admit, but I think the yearning for companionship is completely human so I’m not too hard on myself for it. What I do need to monitor is how I allow the introduction of other people into my life to alter my mood, my thoughts, and my actions.

I’ve grown up in a world that says that people are more complete when they’ve found a spouse to hold onto – especially women. But I also have an amazing mother who was never married, so I have two conflicting models, both of which will work for some and won’t work for others. I guess what I’m trying to find exists somewhere in the middle and somewhere in my imagination, but ultimately the thing I want is to always be proud of myself and my own mind within the quest to find someone who will do the same. Or in other words, delivered perfectly by the great Eartha Kitt, “I’ve fallen in love with myself, and I want someone to share it with me. I want someone to share me with me.”