I am a 28-year-old, single female. I am not married, engaged or dating at the moment. I am a rare species in Colombo, Sri Lanka where I live.
Every time someone asks me about my relationship status, which they shamelessly do, sometimes within minutes of first meeting me, they respond in sympathy. I get a variety of reactions of which my favorites include; “You have few years more”, “It’s ok, you don’t look your age, you’ll find someone” and “Are your parents looking for someone?”. Of course, then there are people who offer to set me up with their brothers, cousins or single friends despite my best efforts to be polite while showing I am not even slightly interested in their matchmaking efforts. Whether they are offering their words of sympathy or extending their matchmaking services, everyone seem to think I have a problem i.e my single status that needs to be fixed.
Then they seem to investigate on what must have gone wrong. Why has a girl that is seemingly ‘normal’ ended up on her own at 28 without a man wanting to make her his wife? “That’s the problem when girls get so qualified, can’t find men more qualified than them”, some say upon learning I’m studying for my third degree in my attempt to reach my childhood dream of being a lawyer. What they do not realize is that I would not rather limit myself in the hope of finding a husband and that I don’t have the slightest problem marrying someone who doesn’t have as many degrees as me. “Girls these days are so independent, they don’t seem to want to settle down”, others say when they discover I have a stable career of my own, earn as much as or more than my suitors and go on holidays on my own. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry for this one. Why would I want to sit at home and sulk just because I am not in a relationship?
I wonder if anyone even considers if I feel differently about my single status before jumping into conclusion I must be sad and miserable watching my friends one by one get married, settling into marital bliss plus or minus careers and kids. If anyone had bothered to ask me, I would say, I feel free, I feel alive, and I feel happy. In all of my 28 years, this is the most wonderful I have felt. I am free to be myself without having to apologize for it. I have financial freedom. I don’t have to be putting money away for a wedding, or a house or to some couple thing. I do not have to get financial advice from a husband or tolerate a boyfriend who makes me feel bad for my impulse purchases. I can spend on buying myself small luxuries such as good shoes, spa treatments and books without feeling guilty about it. I can buy my family and friends better gifts than I used to be able to afford when I was part of a couple and what’s more, I even have enough to give away for charity. I am free to have an opinion on politics, cars or fashion without worrying about a partner being offended. However what I enjoy the most is having time for myself. Being single has given me time to invest on myself. I have been able to do the things I haven’t had time for, being in a relationship like exercising, reading and meditating. I have become a more interesting person that I enjoy spending time with myself.
Does it mean that I don’t know how to love or be loved? No way. I have loved and I have been loved in return. Being single in my late twenties mean I have been in a few relationships, some sad, some happy even though none has lead to marriage. For me the indicator of a successful relationship is not necessarily it leading into marriage. It means I know what it is like to settle and try to adjust myself in a relationship that is not right for me and that I also know when to draw the line and walk out. It means I have been cheated on and heartbroken but also been truly loved to be strong , hopeful and loving.
If someone had asked me, I would say, being single is a choice. It is choosing not to be in a relationship that doesn’t allow me to be myself, choosing not to bow down to societal norms at the cost of my happiness and choosing to be alone till I find someone who I cannot live without. Yeah, if someone had asked me, I would say, “Yes I am single. No there is nothing wrong with me”.