“hold company with yourself so sacred
that even when you are alone,
you are whole.”
Those who know me intimately know me as someone who is a hopeless romantic, a lover of all things “mushy” and oh! I wanted to be married in my early 20s (maybe I still do). But a few days ago, I was having a conversation with one of my good friends, Sibusiso Radebe, that made me realize how my attitude towards marriage has greatly shifted from what it used to be. He made a comment that completely resonated with the space that I’m now in and he said, “…marriage is definitely not the beginning of life, for anyone, more so for the girl child. And I do believe our generation has the responsibility to rubbish that idea in our children’s minds as early as possible…”
For so long we have treated marriage like some sort of reward for good behaviour, particularly for us women. Being a married woman somehow equates to being a respectable and honourable woman. And maybe this is why as women when we get to certain ages and there’s no prospect of us getting married we often feel like there’s something inherently wrong with us or we are not doing something right. But when did marriage become some sort of achievement? Is marriage not a union of two people who chose to spend the rest of their lives together? If marriage has always been about two people’s relationship with each other then why should it ever speak about anyone’s value as a woman or even as a man?
“…men walk around without a care if today they are going to wake up and meet “the one”, whereas as women, we are constantly anxious to meet our husbands, waiting for that knight in shining armour to sweep us off our feet and take us in into his big castle.”
To tell you the truth, my shift in attitude came when I started paying attention to how my male counterparts approach such matters and I told myself this is how I aspire to live my life too. My realization came when I noticed how often times as women and girls, when someone approaches us and asks us when would we like to get married we always give concrete, swift answers wrapped in this confidence and longing. But when the question is turned around to men the answers take longer to come and almost always the answer is, “Oh, I have really never taken thought into it”. If my generalisation is correct, men walk around without a care if today they are going to wake up and meet “the one”, whereas as women, we are constantly anxious to meet our husbands, waiting for that knight in shining armour to sweep us off our feet and take us in into his big castle.
But I could no longer walk around with this burden. I was tired of walking into church, into clubs and wherever else there are a group of people and looking around at the guys and wondering if any of them is my husband. So this is how I began to approach this matter that is very close to my heart: it will happen when it happens but as for now my life goes on and I’ll live it to its fullest capacity, husband or no husband. I am no longer waiting around for when my Prince Charming will come to my doorstep, I am no longer burdened by the reality that I’m 23 and my ideal time of wanting to be married is fast approaching and I definitely no longer believe that my life will only begin when I’m married.
I am a great lover of love and I won’t lie and say I don’t fantasize and long for moments like coming back to a cozy home with the love of my life waiting for me, having a best friend to sleep and wake up next to and having that one important person to encourage me and hold me through the painful moments in life. But I know that when that happens it will be priceless and I will be filled with a great deal of gratitude. However, I am now grateful for my singleness, to be able to do life by myself and be able to applaud myself for the small victories I achieve on my journey to growth. So no, I’m no longer waiting for my dearest husband, he will find me busying myself in living the purposeful life that I’ve always known I’m going to live- a life of adding worthwhile value into people’s lives with my gifts and talents. And this is what I’m now waiting on- opportunities to grab hold of to permeate the world with my greatness.
“I don’t know why being by myself was ever a daunting idea.”
Also, lately I’ve been thinking about my “okayness” if it were to happen that my idealized dream of getting married were to only materialize when I’m 30. I realized that even if I were to only get married much later in life, I would be perfectly okay with it and I would not be anxious about it anymore. I think I’m getting to a place where I feel that my life no longer has to rise and fall on who I have in my bed at night. I am perfectly comfortable with readjusting my plans to having my own beautifully decorated apartment with just my own company, having date nights with my close circle of friends, having dates with myself and coming back to my fresh white clean linen that I sleep in by myself. I think I can work with that and the adventure of riding solo actually now brings great excitement to me. I don’t know why being by myself was ever a daunting idea.
My one desire is that every woman and every girl child will come to a place where they realize that life does not begin with marriage, but it begins when we decide to live our fullest lives in the now- regardless of what our relationship and marital status may be. We are so much more than our relational titles; our value as women is not found in having a man seeing us fit to be his wife but our value is found within ourselves and that’s how it has always been and will always be.
So, here’s a toast to waiting on realizing our potential as individuals and nothing less!