Single, jobless and almost thirty. That is clearly not how I envisioned my life to be some ten years ago, eager-eyed and optimistic about what the future held for me — while everyone I know is getting married.
Yet here I sit, reflecting on why I’m still single while my sisters and friends walk one by one down the aisle, saying “I do”. On the happiest day of their lives, I can’t help but feel guilty about being sad, bitter, and lonely. I also say a silent prayer for my ageing eggs and think about how it’ll never happen for me (dating is hard!).
But let’s face it, the pressure is REAL! Women have felt the need to get married by a certain age. The idea of being “left on the shelf” is constantly perpetuated by concerned parents (and aunties alike). Especially in the Southeast Asian culture where family values are strongly emphasised.
On top of that, we put a lot of stress on ourselves to conform to our own expectations of what we should accomplish by a certain age.
Despite the pressure, here are some things I remind myself to do when I catch myself comparing my singleness to all the seemingly perfect couples around me:
It’s Okay To Change Expectations
Self-imposed timelines have left me feeling like a failure when I don’t achieve them. So when setting expectations for myself, I allow them to change and grow as I do.
Not achieving milestones I thought I’d achieve by now, whether it is marriage, career, baby, a Masters degree, can be discouraging. But I found it helpful to acknowledge that life doesn’t always go as planned.
Case in point: 2020. Times are more uncertain than ever, and it’s the same for everyone. Set new expectations and goals that fit your current circumstances instead and know that that is 100% okay.
Understand Your Motivations
What are my motivations of wanting to be in a relationship? Compared to our attached couples counterparts, we typically have more time for ourselves. So I used it to reflect on the reasons why I want a partner.
Being honest with myself was the first step I took to overcoming feelings of loneliness.
Often we might find that there’s a lot of pressure we put on ourselves to fit an idea of a perfect life without realising that it takes more than just having someone to “complete” us. We can be enough on our own!
Live Your Best Life
Once I began to understand myself better, embracing my singlehood was a cinch! It was the perfect time to focus on myself and doing what made me happy. For example, you could pick up a new hobby, join a fitness class, or learn a new language.
Take that leap of faith you wouldn’t otherwise be able to if you were attached. It’s easy to think, “My life would be so much better if I had a partner.” But, would it really?
While it might take a while to realise this, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own happiness.
So, take the idea of getting married and put it away in one of the pockets in your dresses. Being your truest and most beautiful self as you live in the moment should take precedence.