I grew up in upper middle class Christian community in Michigan. I am a white female. I feel the rituals that are important to this culture are: transition into womanhood (puberty), graduation from college, becoming a wife, and becoming a mother. I feel like as a girl my mother and aunts would encourage me to play house and would ask me questions about how many children I thought I wanted and what my dream wedding would be like. There were not many questions about what I wanted to be when I was older or what my dream career. It was always expected that I would go to college but it was always treated like a novelty. They did not care what the degree I had as long as I had one. It was never talked about but I just assumed that I would get married and my husband would be the main source of income for the family.
My first ritual I can remember going through is puberty. I feel like my transition into womanhood was deemed to be silent like the videos we watch. I remember when I started my period I was very confused and did not really know what was going on because my mother had never talked to me about it, all I knew was what I heard from other girls at school. I remember telling my mom and she said she comforted me and told me she would not tell my father. This was the direct interaction of this American ritual that menstruation is something to be ashamed of and to keep quiet about. I recently have just experienced a new transition as I walked in the spring for Michigan States graduation ceremony. Now that I have graduated college I feel like my family is really pressing for my boyfriend and I to get married because they feel that is the natural order. No one has asked me if I want to continue my education or take a year to travel. Looking back on both these rituals I am a little saddened. I think my journey into womanhood should have been celebrated not made to make me feel ashamed of my body and its natural cycle. As an adult woman, I do not understand why a bodily function that has been happening to us since the beginning of time is something we still try to hide and men are still not okay to hear about. I am also saddened that my college transition felt so rushed. There was no time to enjoy this accomplishment or just be a woman who has graduated from college. I was immediately pushed into the next stage of “get married” or “get a job.”
Looking back on my college experience I can definitely see the belonging liminality-belonging transition. Entering in to my freshman year I went a little crazy with the new found freedom of not belonging under my parents governing rules (as I think most freshman do). I loved the of not having to be accountable to someone who was always looking over my shoulder. I spent too much time partying but luckily my grades did not suffer. As the months past new responsibilities were added to my plate: classes got harder, I had to pay my own rent buy my own groceries, set up my own doctors’ appointments, pay my own tuition, figure out my own car insurance, get a second job to pay for all these things, file my taxes, etc. This time was chaos. It had quite a few emotional break downs. This was the liminality of me not quite being ready for all the adult things but also feeling too mature to be treated like a child. I think transitions like this are very hard an emotionally tolling on a person because you are in between groups and you do not have a sense of belonging to either. The feeling of belonging to a group is universally important to humans as a way of knowing what is expected of us. Even now that I have graduated I still do not feel a complete belonging to the “adulthood” group. I feel much more stable in it than when I stated college but I have yet to feel I have fully moved into the role.