The clock strikes 25 years old. Dadiji asks,
When are you getting married, beta? We found some very suitable matches for you—this engineer, doctor, lawyer.
You can finish developing your career once you are married.
You sit there and think of all the ways in which you want to shut down this conversation right this moment.
How many South Asian women have experienced such a conversation? My guess is many and almost all of you lucky ladies.
Marriage was seen as an accomplishment and a grocery list check mark for my parents and grandparents. Women rarely received an education and were almost never given the opportunity to be financially independent. Historically, South Asian cultures embodied a very patriarchal society. Women never dared to voice an outstanding opinion about anything, really. Unfortunately, this mindset has carried into the lives of some modern-day South Asian women—somewhere they’re subject to these notions because their families continue to follow these archaic traditions. Thankfully, for me, that’s not the case.
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I only have an older sister. I say “only” because older generation Indians expected there to be at least one son in the family. I cannot even begin to share the countless times I have been asked whether I have a brother, and why my parents did not continue to try for a son. Fortunately, my parents and grandparents emphasize the importance of education, career, and independence—for a female.
Funny story: Last year one of my best friends got married in San Francisco. One of the ‘aunties’ (if you know, you know) who attended the wedding approached me:
Beta, how old are you? It is now your age to get married. My friend’s son’s friend is a doctor. May I take a photo of you? You are looking lovely in your outfit.
I politely declined and shared that I was not interested, but the aunty persisted and attempted to ‘discreetly’ take photos of me. Yes, this happened.
As difficult as the waters have been navigating through “shaadi” questions and concerns, I have held my stance on breaking through these traditional, patriarchal beliefs and values—finding my passion and driving that to success. I continue to embody what it means to be single and happy.
In my experiences, I have seen that many women feel insecure about being single. Irrespective of the cultures and backgrounds these ladies come from, it seems to be a prominent theme. When will we begin to understand that we don’t need to be married (or even in a relationship) to live a fulfilling life? Why do we find it embarrassing or daunting to enjoy our own company? Whether that be traveling solo, dining alone and attending events with no plus one. It’s not unheard of, but it’s important to reiterate something here: It’s so important to enjoy your own company. If you’re alone, understand what it’s like to live with yourself and on your own terms, there’s nothing more liberating than that.
I’m not saying that being alone is all fun and games; sometimes, it can feel incredibly uncomfortable to be alone. Especially during times when we are getting pressure from family and those around us who are in relationships. But, let’s fight through this feeling and the pressure and come to terms with being all by ourselves sometimes.
I challenge you to do an activity alone. Find that happiness with it—fall in love with yourself, and your company. It is OK to be single and happy—sorry, Dadiji.