Marriage can be viewed as the waiting room for death – Mike Myers
Okay, before you start thinking, “This girl is such a jealous spinster,” let me tell you that I am 24 going on 25. Some of my girlfriends are married, and a few have babies already. All before they turn 25.
It was back in 2012, when the first ‘bomb’ was dropped. My 21-year-old friend was the first to married. The other girls were ecstatic and excited. I was excited …. and confused. Confused because that friend of mine was two years younger than me. She was 21 at that time, her husband 23.
And then, boom! Suddenly, everybody I knew was getting married, leaving my fellow single friends to contemplate and/or start to feel insecure. And hence began the infectious self querying of “Why not me?”
I have asked them, “Why do you want to get married right now? Aren’t we too young?” And here are some of my favorite answers:
- “Sudah waktunya.” (It’s time)
- “Ya, kalau udah nemu ya nemu aja.” (When you’ve found someone, you’ve found someone)
- “Mau nunggu sampai kapan, kita udah umur segini lho?” (How much longer are we going to wait? We’ve already reached this age – And this was when we were 23)
- “Kalau nggak dicari, ya nggak akan dapet.” (You won’t find it – presumably love – if you don’t look for it)
- “Kodrat perempuan kan emang ngurus suami dan anak.” (It’s a woman’s destiny to take care of her husband and children” – my personal favorite)
- “Elonya aja yang takut komitmen.” (You’re just too afraid of commitment – Yep, we were 23)
I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked by people, “When will you settle down with a man?” As if I’m already as successful as Oprah Winfrey.
And they kept haunting me with this question, like the voice of Sabrina, the acoustic cover singer, or Kenny G’s tunes in the restroom of Pondok Indah Mall 2. I never knew how to answer the question other than, “God hasn’t texted me the date.”
So this is really happening. It’s 2014 and girls my age are already having their second babies.
Some of my single friends are very worried. I watch them try to accelerate the process of getting into relationships, because they feel threatened by the idea of being alone. These are some great young women who cannot stop questioning themselves why they are still single and unmarried. Their self-doubt kind of breaks my heart.
They start to forget the things they wanted to do: their travel plans, hobbies, the determination to discover themselves. They bite their lips out of envy whenever they see young women with husbands and babies, asking themselves, “When is my turn?”
As if everyone must get a turn.
At some point I became unnecessarily defensive about the idea of marriage and having children. I started to detach myself from my married friends, because I couldn’t get their motives. I was a “single-womanist” against my young married friends (and those who long to get married young).
But while I was in this defensive state, I got lucky enough to meet a lot of women and men older than me who are married, divorced or single. Listening to their stories, I gained some perspectives that led me to believe that marriage is not an obligation, but a choice. Let alone having babies.
So I tell myself that just because I don’t have a plan to get married doesn’t mean those who already did were wrong. We just have different ways of figuring things out. I stopped being so defensive and it made me feel so much better.
I no longer cringe now when I meet young people who talk about marriage and having children. I could go to weddings without having to struggle with my skepticism, or I could go to baby showers and actually had a good time with my married friends. It’s good to know that they shouldn’t stop being my friends just because they’re married.
I finally realized that “I’m happy for you” could be a genuine thing to say. “I’m happy for you” means “We don’t have to agree on this, but it’s great that you’re happy.”
So, to everyone out there who finds this piece of writing relevant: keep calm and breathe. We are all here to figure things out – whether we’re married or single, old or young – and we have different ways of doing it. It’s completely okay.