I am at a stage where in the ‘social’ and ‘worldly’ sense, I am beyond redemption. It used to sadden me only a few years ago and also make me bitter sometimes. But over the years, I have learnt to laugh at it. No, genuinely.
Being a single girl in her 30s in India, most of your annoying relatives have given up on you. Oh yeah, on the marriage front. Thanggod. You are better off, believe me.
Don’t have time to read this? Listen to this blog.
And if you are living my life, even some of your friends start to expect that you don’t want any relationships or dating tips anymore because well – you have crossed that threshold. You are somehow ‘beyond it’. They mean it in a good way, I know.
After this point, however, things start to get a little weirder. There are people who now expect you to be ‘Emma’ or as my dear friend Rajeev puts it “the wingman”. Oddly enough, I have been an epic failure just like Emma when it comes to wingmanship (technically, wingwomanship).
Now I am expected to behave in a certain way because – “you are this age”. Fair enough. But that takes time, a major attitude change, at least in my case. Besides, what’s more important? Learning to deal with a situation sensibly or deliberately acting your age?
For years I have often sub-consciously given in to these expectations, outwardly denying them but inwardly getting either hurt or carried away. Till gradually, I started to call them out to myself. Should I stop wanting the things that I want because I have crossed a certain age? Or simply because now there’s logically a slim chance of getting those things, by social standards?
I have always wanted to own a pick-up truck. In my country, people use pick-up trucks only for – well – picking up things. They don’t own it as a personal car. But I have wanted it badly and I have never stopped wanting it. Isuzu recently launched in my city. Nope, still can’t afford it. Yeap, I still want it.
Wanting a man’s companionship and being a mother
The same thing applies for a lot of other experiences I wish. I do want to share my life with a man, a partner who would be as full of flaws as I am. I want to share my deepest fears with him, I want to hold him close and listen to his stories like there’s no tomorrow. I want to care for him like a child when he falls sick or punch his stomach playfully when he annoys me. I want to bury my head in his chest and bare all my being fearlessly before him. All the old school romance. You get the drift. I still want this. Behold Indian society, my age hasn’t changed that at all. I am glad it hasn’t.
I want to bear a child, holding him/ her close or seeing him/her explore the world before my eyes. I want to be called ‘Maa’. Even when I cannot beat the whole logic of ‘biological clock’ and the changes that are happening in my body, I still want this.
Now without a man or a child, I still have a purpose in life. And except for a few days in the year, I am mostly a happy person. There are days, I step out of my house with a clear agenda. Other times, I just don’t feel like working. There are days I just want to play with Jack (my dog) or read a book while tucked in bed. It’s as regular a life as it can get. Nothing fancy. I am thankful.
The wants that are mine and mine alone
But wanting a man and a child are good feelings. These are my needs and I cannot deny them just because I have been single for long or because people around me have given up. Well, I refuse to give up. Call it audacity or hapless romanticism or what you may. But I shall never stop wanting them.
I am sure I am not alone in this battle. Today, my heart reaches out to millions of singles around the world. God knows what all they get to face culturally. It’s often hard to explain this to others. Not that people’s opinion about your life is important but that you are constantly thrown into a situation where you are asked questions. And you are constantly judged and challenged and often brutally denied your right to remain silent.
You will get some seemingly harmless one-liners from happy couples. “Oh a relationship makes you feel more alive.” Or “Don’t you want to feel intimate with a man?” (that’s such a personal thing to ask, by the way) Or “Being in love is something you will never understand.”
I have very witty answers to some of these questions. But then, those answers will hurt. That’s not really what I want. This is also where I am compelled to check my expectations.
The world still doesn’t owe me kindness
The world or people don’t owe me sensitivity. Nobody owes me kindness either. I will need to earn that sensitivity for myself. And if I don’t get it, that’s okay too. I do however wish that I am allowed silences because these are the deeper needs of my heart that I choose to not explain. Single people like me don’t want advice or sympathy. Not even acceptance. And we musn’t expect it either.
A partner cannot cure loneliness
The existence of a partner may or may not give you a purpose, or perfect bliss. In fact, quite the opposite sometimes. Your partner will expose you to your weaknesses for the simple reason that nobody else would ever know you so intimately. And even with a partner, you will find yourself wanting other things, and purposes. Yet, it’s still something to desire, to pursue. And if you do, that’s okay. If you don’t get these things, that’s perfectly fine really.
I also wish to tell my fellow singles that a partner is never a cure for your loneliness. I have seen people terribly lonely within a marriage or a relationship. To me, that’s worse. You must desire a partner because you wish to share your life with a mate and for no other reason.
I have a habit of putting things into prayer. I have a list of things I am so thankful for. There have also been so many prayers that I am awaiting answers for. And not that I will lose my faith if they aren’t fulfilled. But this is just one of my ways of keeping my deepest desires alive before the one entity I consider as real as my feelings – the God almighty. I am often encouraged by John Piper’s words –
Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that He’s given you.
You don’t have to follow what I do. I am sure you have your own ways of dealing with those awkward ‘singleness’ challenges.
With or without a partner, a purpose is important
Ah, that’s a tricky thing, you would say. I have seen this is particularly challenging for many girls in India. You are brought up with the lesson – get a nice guy and be a good wife. Your whole existence since you hit puberty, starts to revolve around this. I am not judging mothers and daughters here. They are all victims of a certain societal norm. But at a very early age in life, I felt like I needed to find my purpose in life. Thank God, because I cannot take the credit for it.
I found it when I was 18. I accepted Christ as my personal saviour and I decided that every choice I make must glorify His name. I felt a transformation of heart. What does this mean?
I have a few gifts and I use them to share the message of Christ. I consciously lend a listening ear to people who don’t have a voice. This helps me to put them over myself. I encourage friends and juniors around me whenever I can. All this to they would see and experience what it means to be loved by Jesus Christ.
It’s important to find a purpose for your own sake. When you do have a purpose, you will not burden other people and your future partner. It gives your life a beautiful meaning. Take a step to find it today.
Learning to forgive readily, easily
One of my resolutions this year is to forgive more readily and easily. People around you also live in the same society and are often driven by what they see. So it’s not their fault if they develop certain perceptions about single people. They will misunderstand you sometimes, say cruel things too. I urge you to forgive them. In the long run, they will remember your choice of forgiveness more than your single status.
When it gets overwhelming, cry if you must. Let your tears wash out all the anguish you may have against others. Make it obvious to the guy who you like that you like him, tell him if you must. Understand his point of view. And if he doesn’t like you back, learn to move on. But don’t deny yourselves this feeling. You have every right in the world to feel what you feel.
I want to tell you my fellow singles – do not stop wanting. Your needs and wants, the feeling of longing, the constant need of sharing your life intimately with someone – do make you vulnerable. I urge you to embrace this vulnerability. I don’t want to say that it’s your strength. But it’s not your weakness either. It just is. If you think this longing weighs you down, then let it.
Your deepest feelings make you vulnerable, that’s when you are truly and absolutely beautiful.
Oh and the latest country song in my playlist, totally sums up my feelings.
Thank God for Blake Shelton.
I’ll hang the pictures, you hang the stars
You pick the paint, I’ll pick a guitar
Sing you a song out there with the crickets and the frogs
You name the babies and I’ll name the dogs