Here's what to say when your someone asks when you're having a baby...

When I visit relatives abroad, I am often asked when I’m going to start a family (or have any sort of romantic partner). The questions make me uncomfortable because according to my family, I should have hit several life milestones by my late twenties, one of which is to get married and have kids.

Much to their disappointment, settling down and establishing a family is the last thing I’m thinking of. Here’s why:

1. I want to know that I can provide for myself before providing for anyone else.

I want to be sure that I can do my part and provide for my family. At this point in my twenties, I don’t believe that I’ve done enough in my career to warrant starting a family. Settling down and having a family is a big choice, and a major investment, both personally and financially.

I’m not saying that you have to have all of your ducks in a row before you start a family, get married, or go through any other major life change. If you feel like it’s the right thing for you, than by all means go for it. At this point in my life in career, however, I know that I would feel a lot more comfortable starting a family if I knew I could provide for them.

Starting a family doesn’t have to tie you down, but in many ways, it does, especially when you have kids. You’ll be responsible for another human being for at least the next eighteen years, and having a child costs money. There’s no way around it. The truth is that I’m not ready for that.

Just because society tells you that you should have ticked of a certain number of boxes by the time you reach a certain age doesn’t mean that you have to have accomplished everything. Everyone does things on their own time. Life happens and plans can change. As I’ve often explained to my family abroad, when I want a family of my own, they’ll know. That time, however, is not now, no matter how much they may want to influence my choices.

2. I have other goals that I would like to accomplish first.

I have wanted to travel the world for years. I have gone abroad many times in my life, but there’s so much of the world that I still want to see. Yes, you can travel abroad with a family, but having a family makes international travel slightly more complicated.

Your goal may not be to travel the world, but some of us in our twenties have goals that we would like to achieve in our work lives. Settling down and having a family makes those things doubly difficult. Yes, some of those goals may be accomplished if you put in the work after you come home from your nine to five job, but that isn’t always the case.

I learned early on in life that giving up a dream can hurt. Yes, it may seem like the best decision at the time, but if you give up a dream, it can still hurt. I personally don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking back and wondering what if. I won’t lie and say I don’t wonder sometimes what would have happened if I had decided to pursue figure skating or if I had done some other things in my life that I ended up choosing not to do, but wondering what if doesn’t get me any closer to achieving the goals that I have now. I would rather pursue my goals to the end, regardless of the outcome.

If I end up not achieving my goal, at least I go to bed at the end of the day knowing that I tried my best and gave the goal the time and effort it deserved. I would rather be proud of the journey and the growth I gain than settle for something I don’t really want.

3. I’m enjoying my life right now.

 While I’m sure settling down and having a family comes with its own pleasures, I am enjoying being a twenty-something right now. I enjoy meeting new friends, learning new things, and learning how to be an adult. I’m not saying everything is rainbows and flowers, but I’m enjoying the growth that I’m experiencing as a result.

Take the time to enjoy where you are in life right now. Utilize the skills and the assets you have at your disposal. This is not to say that you won’t use those skills and assets when you settle down and have a family, but you are only a twenty-something once in your life. Take full advantage of that and relish it.

When you are ready to have a family and settle down, you will. Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to be older? I don’t know about you, but I certainly remember those times, and I don’t know what I was thinking. Take full advantage of this time while you can. Enjoy your friends, your family, and the people around you. Relish the experiences and opportunities that you are given.

The truth is that I don’t want to settle down and have a family now, no matter what sort of timeline my family has set. I will reach that milestone when I’m ready, on my own time. My timeline is not their timeline, my goals are not their goals. I’m okay with that.

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