Imagine this scenario :
A young woman in her late 20’s enters a room filled with family and friends of an ethnic decent. She starts interacting and of course, the dreaded conversation topic arises… “So, when do you plan on getting married, dear?”And no matter how she answers, their rhetorical answer to their own question is, “you can finish finding yourself/developing you career/complete your education once you’re married.”
I’ve experienced this, and I’m sure plenty of South Asian women have had to go through this conversation. It’s awkward and super uncomfortable, especially for someone like myself who loves her independence.
I’ve hinted at this subject in my book Beautiful Thoughts, through the character Ava. To go a little more in depth of the topic; marriage was/is seen as an accomplishment and as something to check off the list of “goals to accomplish in life.” Women would complete their education, but almost immediately afterwards are to be married off and never really given the opportunity to be financially independent.
Historically, South Asian cultures embodied a very patriarchal society. Women hardly ever took the chance to voice an outstanding opinion about anything – including their own life. Unfortunately, this mindset has carried on and into the lives of our so proclaimed “modern day South Asians.”
Fortunately for me, my parents have grown to finally be progressive in accepting that I am not needing another “partner” to make my life complete. Being the oldest female, they’ve always emphasized the importance of education, career, and kudos to my mother – she’s always encouraged to be bold, outspoken, and independent.
Unfortunately for me, this makes me the black sheep amongst various groups, events, and parties I attend. This is honestly why I’ve chosen to stay away from my beloved South Asian community as various instances have come up where I just am dumbfounded with the way I’ve been mistreated.
There were events where I was approached by uncles and aunties and they would all ask to take a picture as they know of a guy who would be the perfect match.
I would politely decline and share that I was not interested, but they would persist attempt to ‘discreetly’ take photos of me. Yes, this happened. More than once.
And if that’s not enough. Speculations as to why I choose to remain single arise, and those are even more annoying. As difficult as the waters have been navigating through “marriage” questions and concerns, I have held my stance on breaking through these traditional, patriarchal beliefs and values—finding my passion and driving that to success. I continue to embody what it means to be single and happy.
In my experiences, I have seen that many women feel insecure about being single. Irrespective of the cultures and backgrounds these ladies come from, it seems to be a prominent theme. When will we begin to understand that we don’t need to be married (or even in a relationship) to live a fulfilling life? Why do we find it embarrassing or daunting to enjoy our own company? Whether that be traveling solo, dining alone and attending events with no plus one. It’s not unheard of, but it’s important to reiterate something here: it’s so important to enjoy your own company. If you’re alone, understand what it’s like to live with yourself and on your own terms, there’s nothing more liberating than that.
I’m not saying that being alone is all fun and games; sometimes, it can feel incredibly uncomfortable to be alone. Especially during times when we are getting pressure from family and those around us who are in relationships. But, let’s fight through this feeling and the pressure and come to terms with being all by ourselves sometimes.
I challenge you to do an activity alone. Find that happiness with it—fall in love with yourself, and your company. It is OK to be single and happy and live the life which you yourself own. And, well for those in relationships/partnerships/marriage, just remember to don’t lose yourself to another. You are you’re own person and you deserve to be with someone who respects your individuality.