I was on holiday recently visiting family and naturally, being in my mid-20s, marriage was on the table. More than ever, people would politely pray I find a “good Arab man” so I can move back to the Middle East and live happily ever after with 46 kids and cook a pot-full of rice every day.
Even in the UK, my parents are growing increasingly impatient, asking what is “wrong” with me, bringing up proposals I’ve rejected and fearing my lifestyle, which is basically almost vegan will deter a suitable husband.
“You need to start eating meat because your future husband will not accept your diet”
“It’s good you go to the gym, but don’t expect your husband to want to be healthy too”
“I don’t understand how ….. is engaged/married and you’re not! You’re so much prettier than her!”
“If you didn’t reject …. you’d be in a different situation right now” [I know, which is why I don’t regret following my gut instinct]
“You have until the end of this year to find someone or I’ll get involved and make sure you marry the next person who comes to you”
I’ve noticed not caring about our relationship status as such and leaving everything to God is something that scares elders. They feel as though us being happy with where we are is a form of us getting too comfortable with our single-ness. We’re building our lives so much that we may be unable to accept just anyone.
For them, marriage is central. I understand why. I feel sad when I see my mum genuinely feeling worried that it hasn’t happened to me yet. I look at myself and I see myself getting fitter, stronger, happier each day. From our discussions, however, she looks at me and sees me getting old. It’s a mentality that is so deeply rooted in our culture that you can’t really blame them when they see us going against the grain.
We do things differently. Yes, some get married early and some get married late. Some get engaged or married early and then break it off only to realise it’s not worth marrying the wrong person and then start to take their time when they are ready (me). Generally, the anxiety of getting married was very much prevalent in our early 20s, but as women reach their mid-late 20s, the concept doesn’t become less appealing per se, but we learn that life can be enjoyed because God has blessed us in the best way for us.
Our society refuses to accept this and want to pile the pressure on us not because they want to see us happy and settled, but they want to make sure we’re “normal”. We’re supposed to accept God’s decree to prove ourselves as women of faith, but at the same time we’re supposed to drown in misery because we’re not conforming to societal norms. It’s not our situation that is threatening, but the way we deal with it; when we’re not worried, we’re transcending normative cultural expectations of us, which is deemed threatening.
Follow your own path
It must be understood that being put in this environment doesn’t encourage us. It’s counterproductive because they want us to feel enough guilt and shame until we somehow get married, creating negative correlations in our heads. Whether we realise this or not, shame is subconsciously internalised and it needs to be fixed with inner work. While you may not back down from your principles, the ongoing “what is wrong with you?” comments do whether you like it or not have an affect on you. That’s completely okay.
It’s fine to recognise that certain comments can make you question your path because when you bury the effects of them, they internalise in ways that become difficult to reach. I remember when I put on weight in my early 20s, I was always told to lose weight or I would never get married. This piled onto my self esteem issues and is one of the reasons I’m still fixated on the illusion that I am overweight.
It’s okay to realise that when people say “why not you?” triggers your insecurities, even if it’s not insecurities on your relationship status. While I laugh “why not you?” comments off when people discuss marriage with me, the “why not you?” mentality in other aspects of my life.
Get out of your way and trust your instincts
Allowing the negativity around you to internalise stops you from manifesting what you want. If you refuse to commit until your needs and standards that you’ve set for yourself and your S/O are met. If someone tells you that your standards are too high and you don’t actively counteract that, you’re not going to find someone to meet your standards because you automatically have your mind set on the negative.
You don’t need to be ignorant of your worth, you can very well know your worth, but if you don’t focus on your worth, knowing your worth will do nothing for you. Knowing your God-given gifts will take you nowhere if you don’t focus on trusting yourself and walking your own path securely, rather than because you have no other choice.
Don’t shut down the criticisms you’ll get because they’ll build up in your unconscious mind. Remember, your mind records absolutely everything without you realising. Bring the criticisms and comments to the surface and counteract them with affirmations and prayer.
Ignoring may do wonders for the ego, but we’re trying to break that shit down here. We’re here to be proud of who we are, love the paths we’re on but understand that we’re human. It’s okay to be sensitive. Being in touch with our senses is what our bodies have been programmed to do.
Their 3aib-nagging comes their ego, which is why it’s so toxic to hear and absorb. Don’t fight their ego with your ego. Rebel by flowing with God’s plan from your heart instead.