It’s an inevitable social phenomenon you find everywhere, especially in big cities. Of course there are lots of them in small towns as well, with lesser emphasis on ‘independent’. You must have heard about an unmarried aunt that lives with her mother or siblings. Maybe you have one or two in your family or relatives. In some way, I think their life is unbearable. Facing the social stigma is one thing. But being in that ‘prime’ age with no financial security is another, even bigger, issue. Just talking about this makes me depressed. That’s why I will skip this group and move on to their counterparts in big cities with big jobs. It’s a greener pasteur there, or so I thought 😀
We should first address the age criteria. I’d say above 30. Others may disapprove but I bet not any single soul would say above 26, right? Because, I’d have to kill you first before I finish this post. And then I might kill myself. No lah, of course I’m joking 😀 I will only strangle you until your face turns blue and then choke you with some popsicles. And I will NOT be suicidal after that. I mean, come on…look at you with that popsicle! It will definitely cheer me up a little bit 😉
Presumably someone has a university degree and starts her professional career at the age of 22, by the time she reaches 30 she will have already worked for 8 years. Chance is, she is now relatively successful (career-wise). She may afford a small apartment or a house. She may ride a comfy Honda Jazz. In short, she has everything a young girl longs for. And isn’t it what emancipation and women liberation movement strove for decades ago? The equal economy rights, the same access to secure jobs as men. Yes, it is. Then what’s the problem? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s true that society now accepts a woman’s success better than it used to.1 Yet, it still looks at her with suspecting eyes, and sometimes, pity. For example, if she wants to buy a house. The realtor will ask how many people will live in the house, how she plans to have her children’s bedroom. Then when the deal is made, the realtor would ask “Who will sign these papers?” That’s just unbelievable. She has the money but they still need more proof that she has financial back-up. It’s different with a thirty-something bachelor who decides to buy his own apartment. They don’t badger him with such questions.
And now, the pity part. Why does everyone say a woman’s destiny is to get married, consumated, impregnated, deliver a child, and raise him/her all the best she could? Then if one cycle is not complete, they would say she’s a failure. On the contrary, nobody would call a single, successful man in his 40s a failure. They call him ‘eligible bachelor’. Honestly, the pitying look (along with sympathetic gesture) is the worst form of mockery. Regardless she’s single by choice or condition, she will have to go through the same painful process. Any social occasion can turn into landmines full of judgmental question and cruel jokes. If she has a strong circle of close friends (preferably single 😛 ) that will help big time. If she doesn’t, well… good luck attending next social gathering!
Of course the picture is not, by all means, grim. Accomplishment always feels good. Bright career comes with satisfactory paychecks. Having no children to think of, she can really enjoy life for herself. Come on, think about it. Children-related expenses are taking up a huge portion of a couple’s budget. There is a good reason behind the prevalence of working mums, right? They can’t rely solely on daddy’s paycheck. Lil’ Janey wants to take a ballet class. Her brother Tom nags for a new PSP. How often does a working mum pamper herself in some spa facility? Once a year, perhaps? Does she have time (and budget) to go on a luxury vacation? How many of them pursue their interest, such as taking a classical guitar class, try scuba-diving, or kayaking? It’s not my intention to overmagnify these small treats, as compared to the bliss of motherhood. But I believe that every situation brings its own colors. As a single woman, you won’t have the the colorful pictures hand-painted by your toddler or the warmth of a husband’s hug after a long tiring workday. You will instead, go home to a nice, orderly house/apartment where everything in it works on your interest. No dirty socks, no ugly couch your husband picked, no stern ebony cupboard from mother-in-law. Every single thing in your house is your favorite, and you can change anything anytime you like. And if you still have leisure time after work, you can hang out with your friends at a cozy cafe or dine in a new restaurant. You have choices, that’s the whole point.
I once heard a single friend of mine saying “I’m alone but not lonely.” Another said “I’m single but not available.” I believe that at the time they said it, they felt that way. Strong, invincible, undaunted, so sure about herself. But (why is there always a but? 😛 ) of course there is no single human who feels constantly happy and content. It is normal to feel down sometimes. Or even lonely. Cry if you have to but don’t wallow in self-pity. Count your blessings 🙂
Another happy single woman I met is the one with her famous quote “Don’t marry, be happy” 😀 I don’t know her well enough but she seems comfortable with her life. She has a great job, travels a lot, meets wonderful people. On top of all, she enjoys what she does for a living. She works for a cause and that’s such a reward beyond measure.
I am not going to conclude which group is happier than the other. Afterall, happiness lies in your hand. Only you can make your life complete. You cannot expect the right man to come and change your life. I know it is lucrative to yearn for a happy ending. Blame the fairy tales and sanitized Disney movies for this!2 I still do that, as a matter of fact. No matter how many failed relationships or romantic attempts I have been, I am still as hopeful as I used to be. I don’t know if someday all my faith will wash out. One day I may wake up and give up on the idea of a a companion. I just hope when that day comes, I remember to count my blessings and smile from ear to ear 🙂 And by the way, I may as well take courses to be a certified diver 😉
1 Apparently not all societies. Japan, a mile-high economy success in the world uses the term ‘make inu’ (loser dogs) to insult any woman over 30 who is single and childless. Full story, read here.
2 We have been brainwashed since we are very little. Why isn’t there any beautiful Disney princess living happily ever after without her prince? That’s why I instantly fell in love with Neil Gaiman’s adult fairy tales. In Stardust, for example, Yvaine (a fallen star who can’t age) lost Tristran to old age. In the end, she reigns the kingdom alone. And she pulls it off.