A couple of weeks ago I went out to dinner with some relatives. The conversation was going OK. I asked about their recent family vacation and we shared some recipe ideas since I’m starting to experiment with cooking.
Dinner was finished. I was stuffed. It was time to leave.
Then one of my relatives stared at me, made me a serious face and said, “When are you going to find a boy and get married?”
I was a bit taken aback by this question, and I shouldn’t have been considering that I come from an Asian family and marriage is a serious thing, especially since I’m 28-years-old right now (I’ll be turning 29 soon) and most of my relatives and distant relatives around my age are married and have families.
“Oh, I have time.” I laughed it off hoping the topic would change to something else. Hey, want to hear about my recent 3-month trip around New Zealand? I’ll tell you all about it!
Instead, she made a face and a lecture came.
“There’s a certain time to do these things,” she said. “Guess how old I was when I got married?”
“How old?” I asked hesitantly.
“That’s young.” It was my turn to make a face. I thought about what type of person I was when I was 20 – insecure, unconfident, couldn’t even go out to eat alone let alone travel the world alone.
For a brief moment I tried to picture what my life would’ve been like had I married someone at the age of 20, and it was almost impossible to predict. If I had married someone at the age of 20, I would be divorced by now because I am such a different person now compared to who I was at 20-years-old. I honestly believe I wouldn’t have had all of the experiences I’ve had in the past 8 years had I’ve been married.
The idea to be married to someone just because you’re getting old or you’re afraid to be alone is ridiculous.
At the end of the day I have to live with this person for the rest of my life. And this person has to live with me. So if he doesn’t understand who I am, the things that I love to do and what drives me in life, there’s going to be a problem.
My relative also mentioned that they’d prefer if I married an Indian boy and suggested a dating/marriage site that I can sign up with in search for this boy. I almost wanted to vomit. She started the sentence by saying, “Our preference would be…” as if it’s our life.
I hate to break it to you, but it’s actually my life. You get to watch.
I get it. Life gets lonely sometimes without a partner. Do I sometimes envy those who are broadcasting their love life all over my newsfeed? Yes.
I’m not anti-marriage. I think the idea is actually nice. I’d love to find someone to share my life moments with and someone who challenges me to be a better version of myself. Vice versa. But if I don’t? I will learn to love myself as an individual.
I was taken aback and all I could really do was nod as I was lectured. But this is what I should have said:
“Although your preferences and suggestions are well-meaning, it’s my life. And I think I have the right to live my life the way I want to. That may be with someone Indian. It may be with someone non-Indian. It may be alone. It may be dating a little and actually meeting new and interesting people. It may be that I’m 28-years-old – yes, almost 29 – and that I’m still young. And when I said that I have time, I really meant it. You may have gotten married at the age of 20 and that may have been ideal for you. My distant cousins may have settled down and are popping out babies and that’s fine. Good for them. I’m happy for them. But their life has nothing to do with my life. So thank you for your suggestions and being worried about me, but I grew up in a different world than you did. I have different goals. I have different values. And although it may seem like I’m frittering my life away, I’m not. Yes, I want to meet someone amazing who will sweep me off my feet. But when I do decide to get married, I’ll do it on my own terms. And in the meantime, I will enjoy my own company.”
That’s what I should have said.