by Lynn Kim Do

Street Talk | The Uncommon Path

It's a funny thing when the most common path becomes the uncommon path. Or a new path becomes a pioneering path. But the thing is no one path is THE path. We all have different paths.

From the moment I was born until my last year of high school, I was only taught that a very specific path. School, marriage…a heterosexual marriage, kids, grandkids, and then you die. Maybe there would be some traveling here and there, definitely a house with a white picket fence, god forbid it’s yellow or red or something, and divorces aren’t allowed, and oh, a career was optional.
And then I entered college and I was taught that everything I just stated was an absolute lie. Not only was it a lie. It was almost downright brainwashing. It was what THE MAN wanted you to believe, to put women down, so they can stay down—oppressed, compliant, voiceless, and baby-making robotos. It's a man's world. And we live in it. Don't fall for that trap. So, they taught us a different path. And it looked something like this: school, career, empire, help other women, change the world. Men were optional and if they were involved, they needed to support your dreams and have their own dreams, and sacrifices were little, if there were any to be made. Kids come later, when everything is secure and both careers allotted time for it (which is never by the way). Oh, and it can't interfere with the ultimate "change the world" plan. A house was included but also optional because there were more options now—a penthouse, a Brooklyn studio, a cave in Minnesota, a shack in Mexico. Eh, divorce was fine. Love was optional, a fairy tale created by The Man to hold us back from the ultimate goal—again, to "change the world". Attainable shit, isn't it? 

Now you can imagine why all these twenty-something years old are all fucking confused. You can't blame us. We have two choices and they both sound fucking looney. And impossible.

If you're asking me which one I vibe to more? If it isn't clear, then let me tell you. It was the latter one. This made it quite difficult for me growing up. During high school, I questioned everything around me –my role, my mother's role, media's portrayal of everything from race to gender, I questioned religion and in college, I even became an atheist for all of two weeks. Love, psh... I somehow convinced myself that I wasn't capable of it. I just needed friends. Until I realized they suck too, and love would find me over and over again, hit me on the head, slapped me in the face and with a little self-retrospection, I knew I couldn't let the love of my life walk away so I hit his head with a large wooden bat and dragged him into my cave. Curiosity, while helpful, can be a real pest when aging during such impressionable years—middle school to college. I had always felt like an answer was never straight forward and, of course, a straight forward answer was all I craved for. At 24, most days, I still feel that way. But I remind myself that it is also why the world is so beautiful. Life is a large fuckin' riddle. 

Fast forward to now:
I came to an epiphany on the couch with my friend the other night. After watching a rather confusing movie on motherhood, she felt compelled to release a confession held tightly in her chest. A little backstory on this twenty-five year old life-loving beauty—She just moved out of her parents' place, just found a man whom she allows herself to love, just realized what she was passionate about—fashion, especially children's apparel. And no, she is not a mother. In fact, she, like many millennial women, wants a career before a family. But in this very moment, she had to tell me something. "My uterus spoke to me the other day." "Interesting...", ironically, I generally question a ton of things but never abstract stuff like this. "It's telling me that I'm ready for a child." 
This is traumatic for anyone who thought they had finally written a path they could be comfortable with, an idea they had finally felt attached with. That uterus comment alone is scary. What would your millennial friends think?  Would they call you a traitor, a basic ass bitch, a sucker? Our parents' generation would fully understand, right? For them, a family was built by the time they were 23-25 years old. As we're coddled until 21 years old and fed with their regrets, "wait, honey...I wish I did more before"...being trapped and throwing their life away for a shitting, eating, life-sucking baby or babies. I get it. Until we get pregnant before saying "I do," and then oh no, we're the worst. Dammit. 

But what if that common, uncommon path becomes your path. What will it be met with? And what about other paths?

I wish we were taught the possibilities of all paths including the numerous paths people have taken and all their outcomes. Kinda like a chipotle line, "guacamole or nah? It's $2 more..." as you watch the person in front of you order. And you’ll know if you want a life like a fat burrito, a taco, or, maybe naked. Being a twenty-something year old and watching inspirational videos about this entrepreneur and this other leader who did this and that and then made a billion dollars, I compare myself to them endlessly. Like damn, I'm not like that. I'll never make it. Even then, we need to be encouraged to make up our own paths. I wish schools and leaders, influencers, and parents would encourage us to create and take untredded paths and territories as they share theirs.
Because in the end...I am not like any one. I will never be them. I am me. And my friend is her own self. Our paths are totally different and unique. Listen to your gut, tune out those comments that will make you feel shitty even if they mean well, and be endlessly and unforgivable you. Because the path will be beautiful, the voyage crazy and a mouthful of stories you'll be happy to tell, and everything will be okay.  Just keep telling yourself, like I tell myself—Everything will be fuckin’ amazing!

Photo by Daniela Spector 
Written By Lynn Kim Do