And why it wasn’t by choice!
I thought I’d be married by now. Being single past a certain age, for a woman, is often subject to scrutiny and judgement. There is no sugar coating it. And yes, times are changing as women are redefining their role in society to extend beyond antiquated stereotypes and limiting expectations, while demanding respect in their freedom to be who they want. But, let me be honest with you. I do not feel empowered by my status. I will not claim that I am single because I want it this way, because I value freedom and independence over partnership and compromise. It is not a deliberate conscious decision I made to remain unmarried until the age of 37. It is the factor of a series of choices and circumstances that knowingly or unknowingly have determined this path for me.
I love love. I grew up in a beautiful family of 5 and dreamt I’d have the same one day: a life partner, 3 children, a simple life of mundane moments centered around family and grounded in tradition. I have always had high expectations for love. Blame Disney. Blame media. Blame my own parents. I have stood by my conviction that love, true love, should be an impossible-to-deny, overwhelming gut feeling that magnetically pulls you to the right person. I was prepared to wait for it, certain that I would know how to recognize it. And also certain that it would come before 30…
For many people it seems to work out that way. And when the number of wedding announcements and baby showers starts inundating your news feed, the proof of what’s “normal” becomes irrefutable. So you start questioning your actions, your choices, your own self-worth. Being single becomes something you have to explain, or justify, to preserve some pride. Finding peace and acceptance in what you can’t fully control (i.e., meeting the love of your life) is a great introduction to a journey of self-discovery and continuous development.
As young adults we’re faced with the overwhelming responsibility to define our identity, which until a certain age was imposed, unquestioned, by our full-time roles as daughters, sisters, students. For those of us privileged enough to have been raised in a country like the United States, we are offered the chance to be who we want and reach great heights. Inspired by this goal, we start crafting our ambitious career paths and chasing fulfilment in them. Some find it. Others, like me, are left wandering, looking for something more, without really knowing what that is. For a while, I thought love was the answer.
When I found love, I was on the brink of a career/existential crisis. His entry into my life gave me permission to shift my focus onto the one thing I had long been waiting for. My new role as his girlfriend became my whole identity and it filled me up completely. Until he shredded my heart in pieces and I no longer knew how to exist as my own person rather than part of a whole. I had to learn to face my weaknesses instead of hiding them behind the strength of another. I had to harness my own strength and learn how to love myself as I discovered the depth of my resilience. I was single once again, feeling a certain void in my life, but finally brave enough to look inward for the missing pieces.
At 35 I started living freely. I ditched pressures and expectations, I fought shame and insecurity, and reconnected with my true self. I found the confidence I never had and a voice I had repressed for too long. I have never stopped wishing for that special someone, but I did stop feeling incomplete without him. In time, I opened my heart up again, overflowing with gratitude and love.
And love came flowing right back.