I can’t even begin to tell you what its like to be a woman of African descent born and raised in the United Kingdom.
Trust me when I say there are many realms to navigate through, AND to do it successfully? Its hard, hard af.
In my culture if you’re not married at 29, you’re already past your sell-by date. Yes it IS the be all and end all. It’s something almost all mothers irrespective of backgrounds are worried about.
It’s heralded as an unspoken and if you’re Nigerian very spoken of rite of passage for a lot of women. I remember shortly after graduating, the questions began to come in thick and fast about when I will get married, as if I am supposed to pluck a good suitor from a tree, wrap him up and present him to the family. As the first born in my family and one of the eldest in my extended family, in Tupac’s words “All eyes on me”. I had to ban my family at one point from asking me such questions and I won’t even begin to touch on the children, biological clock, and your eggs will be dust talk…That’s too much to discuss in one day.
If its not my family, its my friends and their families. Sometimes they say it and at other times I just feel it, the general consensus is “Irene, you are the problem, stop being so picky etc”. At some point, not sure when exactly, I started to believe them and it cost me! I mean if ‘everyone’ is thinking it and often times saying it, they must be right, right? I MUST be the problem, right? I didn’t want to be the black sheep and the one who wouldn’t get in line, so I ignored all the alarm bells and stood in the shit for a little too long. I entertained pursuits that I knew from the get-go were not right. Fortunately for me, I came out bruised and not broken.
Do not and by that I mean NEVER go against what you feel in your gut.
In addition to desperately trying to make something work, I spent a few months last year looking at every woman’s finger and then harshly judging her because the conditioning I had had since I was a child began to engulf me and swallow me whole, like Jonah. The thoughts swirling around my head were what’s wrong me? Why does she get to be married? Why wasn’t this a part of my life? Nobody wants me?! (Proceeds to cry in the corner).
The pressure to be married or find your soul mate is everywhere and unavoidable. It’s on TV, its on social media, it’s on YouTube, it’s on the tube, anywhere you can think of it, it’s there, haunting you.
There is an implicit notion that you are broken if you are not in relationship, engaged or married. Having a ring on your finger infers that you are wanted, loved and that someone saw value in you enough to make you a Mrs. This train of thought is detrimental, soul destroying and on every level, just wrong.
You are not broken, nor unloved or unwanted. The ideals established by our families, our cultures and society are often times unrealistic and can lead to an unhealthy state of being.
Anyway, I say all of that to say that I have been delivert*,I have finally made peace with all those demands and expectations that I and others had for my life. I have opted to be nobodies bitch least of all this society’s.
I have become very clear on what a good suitor looks like and my previous experiences were not it and I’ll be damned if I get to the altar and Mr Big chooses not to show up, someone will die, sorry I mean…nah, someone will die!
There is a whole lot more to life than being married or in a relationship. Life doesn’t stop there as my many married friends will tell me, it’s also not an easy feat. While it may not be in your very immediate future, do not sit there moping and become a glutton, get busy. Get busy in discovering more about yourself and living your best life yet while it is still on your own terms, because when you do eventually settle down, you can kiss goodbye to that lol.
Really spend time investing in yourself and your goals. Focus on the things that make you happy outside of anyone and do that, explore, learn a language, travel a lot, buy a home, do a placement abroad, write a book, go back to university to study (actually don’t, tbc), try new things, become a yoga instructor, take a series of cooking classes, make money, join a circus, start painting, get into photography, start a business, take a twerking class (hey, your mate will thank you later),spend time with your non annoying family members and friends, become so busy with living a wonderful life that you do not have time to feel sorry for yourself or look at other peoples lives as being seemingly better than yours. Your life can be amazing on your own, you do not need a mate to have a fulfilling life.
Now, I am not advocating that you completely shun your desire to have a mate, simply that you do not make it your everything. When people are desperate, desperate ideas and decisions become them. When people are happy, well you know how that goes.
I’m off to the gym now at 00:40, okay i’m lying, I was going to though, ha! Tomorrow, I promise.
Ps Delivert- The act of being over delivered from something. Past past tense lol.