We live in a society where life has an expected order: go to school, college, university, get a job, start a career, meet someone, get a car, get married, buy a house, start a family, upgrade your car, go on annual holidays, send your kids to university, and work until you’re exhausted and can’t enjoy your retirement. This sounds a bit cynical, but it’s quite close to the truth, and we always hate hearing that: the truth. Society has drilled these expectations into daily life so much that any deviation means something must be wrong with you.
Every family has that one person who just didn’t follow the status quo. I am one of those people and I’m so grateful that my grandparents aren’t around to ask me, at the age of 31, why I’m not yet married and without children. I’ve always been that person on the fringe, the one who didn’t take the usual routes, the one who took risks, said what needed to be said, and unafraid of eliminating toxic people from your life. I grew up in a traditional Indian-influenced household. That translates to the women being housekeepers and childminders and the men bringing in the dosh. I did not fit in… at ALL. From a very young age, I questioned the need to marry because divorce was all around me, and having a boring life just wasn’t in my list of things to do with my life.
Needless to say, I am very experienced on being on the side of the argument of not wanting to get married. However, I completely respect anyone who does want that traditional, society-set life. There are some people who are born to chase the stars, and there are some who are born to be parents. Everyone should be able to make that choice and do what they want with their lives, without being told what they should and should not do. The freedom of choice should be made available, encouraged and respected.
I’ve spoken with a lot of older women over the last ten years who took the traditional route: marriage and kids; mainly because I was struggling with the idea of marriage and family myself. Many of them said they wouldn’t have it any other way, and that they love their kids. A couple have said that if they had a choice, or felt like they had a choice, that they may have taken a different path, but they have no regrets of the life they had. The point of me asking wasn’t to ascertain if they regretted anything, but to see if they believed they truly had a choice in the matter. Most didn’t. But the choice is literally in our hands. It takes two people to sign a marriage contract and it’s down to us to decide whether or not we want to sign a binding contract. The problem lies in how we view marriage: more as an emotional must-do thing, rather than a partnership that involves life decisions, finances and the next generation of society.
For those of us on the unwed bench, you are not alone. It’s perfectly okay to opt out of the status quo. I struggled with this for years and it’s only when I moved back to the UK and met a woman called Sam, that I became okay with that decision that I made when I was nearly nine. It’s saddening that this isn’t the case for many people, and they are still grappling with this. But I’m here to tell you it’s okay and you’re not alone. You’re also not weird for thinking that you’re weird for all those years because you didn’t feel that pang for children or a family. And likewise it’s perfectly okay for you to feel that yearning for a family of your own. Both are entirely natural.
We are all born to be something: rockstar, rocket scientist, marine biologist, customer service representative, salesperson, dad, mum, pet parent. And any, all or none of the above are all acceptable choices. At the end of the day, it’s fine to get married, or not to. Society shouldn’t dictate your happiness. And if you’re unhappy, be proactive and do something about it. Hell, I moved country the last time I was really unhappy, so I’m a strong advocate for putting yourself first too. No one else will look after you, so you do you.