My summer and fall were quite eventful with family parties, birthdays, weddings, family visits and other such get-togethers among those that share the same last name. This is the last name that I will eventually assume as my fiancée and I get ready to be married.
Ask any of my friends if I typically do the family thing and you’ll probably hear a sarcastic laugh followed by, “Are you kidding? Jo doesn’t like people”. Though that’s only partially true, I’ve grown to not mind participating in family functions so much. Granted, I don’t always like it, but I don’t loathe it either.
Sure, the awkward small talk and unpleasant interrogation about our undefined wedding plans make for an uncomfortable situation. Not to mention the room full of kids who look different every time I see them that I can’t remember their names or ages. But what makes up for it is the abundance of food and alcohol and the laughs that seem to come naturally after consuming both.
Coming from a very small family (and about to be married into a very large family), I can honestly say that the transformation from being the “girlfriend who refused to go to family events” to the “fiancée who makes an appearance almost every time” has been overwhelming.
There are a number of reasons why this has been so daunting for me.
Firstly, I’ve changed.
I went from being me (who was perfectly content only seeing my family a few times a year) to this “new” me (who sees her future in-laws at least once or twice a month).
Secondly, I always feel like I’m sitting in a job interview.
Sweaty palms, jittering hands and pre-thought out answers consume me as I constantly feel the pressure of impressing everyone and proving that I’m “good enough” to be part of their family.
Thirdly, I look and sound fake… so fake that I find myself annoying!
I’ve never been one to succumb to the pressure of acting a certain way just to be accepted. Yet, there I was trying to say the right things and laugh at the right time, so these people would accept me.
After several months of wearing the mask, learning the lines and playing the part, the real me (deep inside) snapped. It felt like being trapped in a small box and trying not to scream… until the oxygen runs out and the suffocation forces you to holler helplessly for air. That was when I decided to take back my November.
With Christmas right around the corner, family events are inevitable. To prepare my sanity for the bombardment of family festivities and the hectic holidays, I decided to go into hiatus for all of November. It took a deep heart-to-heart talk with my better half to reach this conclusion, but it was well worth it.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since I’ve been in-law-free, but I’ve already grown to appreciate a lot.
It feels good to be me again.
I can say what I want, act how I want, and cuss when I want. Fortunately, my fiancée loves me for me, so in our home, I get to be me. And to him, that’s more than good enough.
I miss my own nutty family.
Last week, I decided to visit my parents for the first time in months. It’s nice to gather around a dinner table and enjoy good food, family stories and laughter with your parents – once in a while.
Nothing beats quality time at home.
As you get older you really start to recognize the difference between family and relatives. Though your relatives are those who raised you, grew up with you and have holiday dinners with you, when you grow up and meet your soul mate, that person becomes your family. And there’s nothing better than spending quality time at home nurturing your own family.
With a couple more weeks left in my November, I plan to appreciate every moment of simplicity.