“Normal” and Pop Culture

I’ve always had this specific image of what I wanted my life to be.  I wanted the classic high school experience, going to football rallies with my friends and ridding a limo to prom.  In college I wanted to cram into a tiny dorm room with a roommate I had just met, stuff my face in the dinning hall, and wear my pjs to early classes.  I envisioned the classic white wedding dress, my husband carrying me over the threshold, and one day giving birth to our children.  I’ve had a vision of what I wanted my life to be at each point, and wherever possible I made it happen.  “Wherever possible” is a key phrase there. Sometimes it’s just not possible.

Recently I’ve wondered, where did this vision come from? I didn’t have an older sibling going to those high school rallies before me, and my parents both lived at home when they were in college, so I didn’t grow up hearing stories about dorm life.  As much as I’d like to think that I’m an independent and free thinking person there’s no denying that my image of what my life should be comes directly from popular culture, and my childhood addiction to TV.  I wanted to go to Bayside or West Beverly High, then to Pennbrook with Cory and Topanga!  After my ratings grabbing sweeps wedding my life would mirror the classic sitcom family with pivotal moments underscored by the perfect emotion inducing music.  Most importantly, everything should proceed down the classic formulaic path that every Hollywood life takes.

The problem is that, though TV shows increasingly take on more and more of life’s big issues, there are some that still remain untouched, or at least not accurately so.  Infertility is one such issue.  Adoption is another.   When they’re addressed it’s often glossed over as a small subtext in the character’s lives (Gray’s Anatomy) or very inaccurate and oversimplified (Friends).  Let’s not even discuss the Lifetime movies that grab on to the most unlikely turn of events and blow them up into a two hour tear jerker.  In the end we’re left feeling like these issues are not an acceptable, normal part of life.

But both are remarkably common, and are perfectly reasonable ways to build a family.  What’s interesting is that I find myself unsure of how to model my emotions without a Hollywood model to guide me. I’ve found myself craving an imagined map to help me navigate my real world.

Maybe one day Hollywood will catch up with modern adoption practices.  Maybe They’ll begin to portray adoption as more than trivialized subtext without turning it into sensationalized drama.  For now I’ll accept that my life exists outside of that box in my living room, and start painting a new image.


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