this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on July 30, 2013.
It happens quite frequently. My work requires that I meet new people on a daily basis. Small talk happens out of courtesy, and it is inevitable that my age and marital status are brought up. Upon learning that I am 29 and unmarried, they will usually say that maybe it is because I am picky. Their tone indicates that they almost feel sorry for me.
They think that I, as a woman, am being overly picky. And, of course, they are quick to make this assumption because I have a career, and I’m tall and beautiful (at least according to my mother). Worse, these same people go on to say subtle things to imply that I am not in a position to be picky because of my age.
There are also some cool ones who tell me to take my time. And having known them for only a few minutes, I have no way of telling whether they are just being nice or they really mean it. But I would like to believe there are still good and respectful people out there.
I understand that getting married and having kids rank No. 1 in most people’s list of priorities, that marriage ideally happens before we turn 30 or, in some cultures, younger, when our child-bearing abilities are at their prime, physiologically speaking. When I was a little girl, I also thought I would be married by now. When I was a little girl, I thought I would have what everyone deemed normal and live a normal life. But who is to define “normal” for anyone?
Now, at 29, and under the glaring spotlight of this marriage issue, I am realizing that life does not always give us what we think we want, but gives us what we need instead. I mean to say, if I were meant to be married by now, I believe a series of events would have been prearranged for it to happen. And not necessarily a “happily ever after,” because in reality, that is not how all marriages end up. Some people are miserably married, some are luckily married, while some are truly happily married.
I could meet someone while having coffee, or through a common friend, or through that aunt who always tries out her matchmaking skills, or while I’m running (except I don’t run), or traveling, or at work that leads to marriage. If I were meant for it, then it would have already happened to me, regardless of what my married life turns out to be. If I had parents that would drag me to the altar and force me to say “I do” to a complete stranger just to get me to tie the knot, I would have to be born to these crazy parents in the first place (which I thankfully am not, but I suspect they are close to doing that kind of thing). I wish some folks would realize that it is disrespectful to assume that I am being arrogant about it. Maybe I just know what I want.
We are each facing different battles. It is not fair to accuse a man or a woman of being picky or arrogant just because something so common is not happening to them. I mean, really now, how does a simple “picky” cover the complexity of the matters of the heart? Just because someone does not do what is comfortable for you does not mean they are picky.
Respect is so underrated these days. There are a million reasons to stay with someone, and true love definitely does not always rank No. 1, but please do not tell a single person to marry now, love can come later, good for you if it happened that way for you, you know? But maybe some of us would rather miss out on that whole experience than go into it just for the sake of it. Is there anything sadder than that? That is to say, even though I like the idea of being married, I do not imagine myself settling for less, and maybe that is asking for too much.
But that is my belief, and I am not forcing anyone to believe in the same thing. And we can stand on opposite sides of the road for eternity, each claiming to be right, because what is right is what we personally believe in. In the end, only we can truly judge ourselves according to our own standards.
I am actually glad there are people out there who care more for the greater good of humankind, procreating so that life on earth can go on (if we don’t destroy earth altogether, that is, looking at how we treat it—but that’s an entirely different discussion). But the truth is, most of the time we are engaging in the procreating activity not really to procreate. Why are there contraceptives, in the first place? Human beings do it because it feels good, it is human nature, and it is not something to be ashamed of, unless we are being irresponsible instead and bringing more suffering to this world through our actions. How many babies are born and abandoned because the adults never intended to stay committed to the consequences? How many hearts are broken because the adults, despite being married, are cheating?
Also, personally, I value commitment more than anything else. The weight of someone committing to me through actions every day is heavier than someone signing a piece of paper with me. Of course, best if that is one and the same person we are talking about. Lucky are those who marry out of pure love and commitment.
I am not antimarriage, as a friend has assumed. I love seeing a couple go through that process for the right reasons because it is what makes it so beautiful and magical. And that is what I want in life—to do things for the right reasons. Whether it is getting married, having kids, or going into a bar during happy hour. So I am definitely not saying I am too good, too beautiful, for anyone, as some elders have and will continue to wrongly judge me. I just want it to feel right, and I would rather miss out on experiencing a day of fame and glamour walking down the aisle, but having a mediocre marriage in return.
I am sorry if it is uncomfortable for you that time is running out on me and I seem not a bit bothered. I wish people would realize that there are hundreds of reasons why people who don’t qualify for YoungBlood anymore are not tying the knot at a time like this. Sometimes it is an active choice, and the older generation needs to stop accusing and start respecting.