Let me start off by saying that I truly do wish to get married, and if life had turned out differently, i probably would have already been married. Actually scratch that. I probably wouldn’t have, because of the way I am in some respects. I have always been an independent spirit, roaming from place to place and I am not entirely sure if I would have been able to do the things I have done if I were married.
But at any rate, I have always loved the idea of being married. I always pictured my house and a husband and although i am not a huge kid person, I always envisioned having kids around me. My Plan was never this, I always thought I would be married by 23.
But the world takes you different paths. New adventures , unspoken mysteries and truths. Had I imagined that I would live in Madrid among the gypsies and morrocan kids, or the quiet suburban life of Chertsey Uk, or the bustling life of an indigenous radio in Ecuador. None of these paths led me to anyone I wanted to settle down with as far as I know.
I am happy with these choices, I am content with the life I have carved so far and the knowledge embedded in this. Independently of what I will do or not, this is something I chose for myself.
However, for some reason people feel compelled to make me feel bad about my choice. Despite the fact that we live in modern times, a woman unmarried has a lowered status, an unspoken look of pity and chagrin etches people’s faces.
I was away from El Salvador for three years. I have had countless adventures , had interesting jobs and made amazing friendships. Yet no one asked me about that. What was asked was ” You were there for three years and you couldn’t find a husband?”
And there it is. In one word, phrase or stroke people belittle your choices and make you feel less because you can’t achieve something that is really beyond your control. Why was I made to feel that somehow it was my fault that I wasn’t married? Why did people somehow think this was the only important thing I could achieve in my life? Why weren’t people interested in anything else other than this? Why did they feel the need to place blame?
I felt like I was in a Jane Austen novel, the poor spinstress with no future. But why do we still place these antiquated roles ?
Family , children and marriage are important but why the need to make me people compelled to feel inferior if they haven’t achieved this?
I look around at my friends. Some have divorced, some have children but are unhappy and others have complete and frenzied lives. There are some who are lonely , frazzled and lost. There are others who remain who they are.
I am not sure why we think marriage is the end, or why it carves out our identity . It is part of a passage of life but if people do not achieve it , it does not make them less of a human being. In fact, in some ways it makes them brave.
I wish we would stop thinking in dichotomies. Single, married, mother, daughter. Why are these the things that solely identifies us , sets us on a boat for which we cannot return to our former identities? Why do we leave our former friends behind just because they do not share our same experiences?
When I typically go out for coffee with friends, a lot of the conversation revolves around relationships. If women are married they complain about their husbands, if women have children they talk about their children, if women are single they complain about being single…
But why, pray tell, is this the only thing we can offer in conversation? How does this broaden our understanding of our life, our concept of society and our pursuit of knowledge? How does this deepen our relationship with our friends?
For the past year, I have not had a relationship . I haven’t really thought about it at all, liked anyone or even really let it occupy my thoughts. Surprisingly, when i stopped doing this I found I had a lot more time to do other things. Read books. Write. Paint. Serve. Pray. I realized how much empty space this idea occupied my time, how much of my identity was wrapped up in another person.
Don’t get me wrong, I do want to find someone. But I want to do it whole, I want to do it because I love my life and want to see it grow and expand with someone else but not because I want that person to be the sole reason for my existence. I want to have my own goals and not give up my whole sense of being and worth for someone else. Because that thinking is dangerous, no one can possibly fill the void that you need to fill with God and yourself.
This past year I have been alone a lot. Most of my friends are gone now, and those that remain have little time. Having the courage to get up and be content despite being alone was hard. Writing to myself instead of sending long emails to people who couldn’t care less was painful. Stopping myself from trying to be liked, trying to be what others wanted to be and just started to listen in what I wanted for myself was brutal.
It wasn’t without it’s tests. In the past 2 years, 200 people I know have gotten married. I have had to endure countless remarks from people telling me that if I didn’t hurry I up I would become a spinster for life. People telling me ” You should be embarrassed , I mean your little brother might ” win ” and get married before you”.
These are all made in jest, for fun, but I cringe anytime people say these things. I am not sure why they do it, or what they want to accomplish. But I have to remember that I know who I am. I know my life. It might not be perfect… it might be where I wanted it to be but it’s my life.
I have survived a lot of things, abusive relationships, drug addicted father estranged friendships and betrayals . But what keeps me going is my faith in God. Sometimes it is mired but I have to believe that wherever the path God is taking me is the right one, even if it is hard to follow at times.
The next time you feel compelled to give someone a hard time about being single, stop and think if it makes them feel bad. Try to get to know their life, who they are instead of who they are with. The answers might surprise you.