I am 30 plus, and to the horror of most of my relatives, friends, and acquaintances, I am still unmarried. An oft quoted speech is, “Now that you have succeeded in your career, it is time to settle down.” It always makes me smile as I think of the degree of conditioning we as a generation of singletons are breaking through to get to a point where we have a choice.
But is it really a choice? Many of my single girlfriends and I talk, and the reality is, we look forward to companionship and having a companion. It’s just that we are exercising our choice to find the right companion rather than being bound by society’s perception of a good (or healthy, as we say in India) age to get married at and limitations placed based on my biological clock. The fact of the matter is, we are single because good men who understand emancipated women and who are loyal, are a dying breed. As the pool of single women goes up, these guys are at the brink of extinction; it’s just a demand and supply gap.
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There are two choices I really have – one, to bemoan the situation and take no accountability, or two, to objectively introspect, understand my personal goals and priorities, and arrive at a mental compromise to achieve it.
I want to take a step back here and also give you some additional context. I spent my formative years in an all-girls convent school. Then I went to an all-girls college. So I know tons of women, many of them happily married, some having babies, few dealing with messy marriages, and a few more with messy divorces. Shockingly, at least 30% of all the women I know regret being married, hate what they have become, and are immensely lonely despite being married.
So if all these wonderfully smart, talented women had toed the line of society and gone down a tried and tested path of marriage but were still horribly lonely, what was wrong? This is where I stumbled upon the nuances of being alone vs. being lonely.
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Alone for me is a state of self-actualization, where you are in terms with the fact that you don’t have a primary companion but are comfortable enough with yourself and/or your current environment and hence are happy. Lonely is a state where you feel disconnected/isolated from people and your environment, which leads to restlessness, bad choices (sometimes), and even depression.
Knowing what I know, I can’t help but think if there is even a point succumbing to the pressures of society. This is why rather than almost templatize my existence, I choose to live by a profound saying by Rumi: “What you seek is seeking you.” Today, knowing what I know about myself, I seek happiness not just companionship; I seek peace not compromise; I seek comfort not just people. More importantly, I realize I’m happy as I am – alone, and not lonely.
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