Imagine waking up every single day, feeling shame, resentment, fear…pulling through every chore feeling overwhelmed; and then as you lay down to rest again, feeling it even more, because regardless of all achievements, you just lost yet another day of your life that is passing you by.
Imagine, breathing every breath with a profound sense of despair and desolation that’s almost second nature to you.
A few days ago, I met with two asian girls at an event and we got chatting over a cup of coffee.
Our conversation began on a very light note as they spoke of parents who insisted on them getting married. ‘Our mums are always pressuring us to find a good guy and settle down. They say it’s high time!’ they laughed.
Perhaps given my asian roots, they were comfortable speaking of their problems and even make comparisons as they asked, ‘How old are you? Are you married?’
‘I’m 40 and divorced,’ I say.
As we peel off the layers in our conversation, vulnerabilities emerged.
At one point on of them said, ‘But I do want to get married, I want to have children. My clock is ticking.’ she said.
I realised then that this was more than managing parents’ expectation. This was about their own expectations, their dreams, their longing and perhaps even some fears of loneliness.
‘I’m sure you can work this out, how old are you anyway?’ I asked gently, trying to see how I could help.
Just as I asked the question, it hit me as to how grave this was. One girl was slightly timid and her eyes welled up as she mustered the courage to say, ’I’m 35.’ She felt tremendous shame, as though she had been a complete failure to have hit 35 without having found a spouse and borne children.
The other girl tried to lighten the conversation yet didn’t reveal her age until the end.
I felt I owed it to them to be honest and help them own their problem. I played back to say, ‘So what I am hearing is that you do want to get married. It’s not that your parents are forcing you.’
‘Actually yes, we do, we tried a lot! We went for dating events and met some guys – but we are just very different.’
We got laughing again as they told me some hilarious tales of asian dating and matrimonial sites. I exchanged my Tinder tales in return.
Yet, at the crux of it, I noted constantly that they spoke of their desire to get married in the present tense and when they spoke of efforts, they only spoke in past tense. It seemed to me that what was once been a goal was now just a distant dream.
I played it back to them again and asked if they were not trying any longer? With that we peeled another layer.
‘Who’s going to marry us, look how old we are. It’s a waste of time to try!’ they said.
‘I’m older than you both.’ I smiled, trying to flag that age was just a number.
‘Yes, but look how fit you are, I need to go to the gym so I can look like you,’ she laughed.
I knew that laugh. It was that laugh which conceals intense emotion and several layers of stress that come through even as we try very hard to hold back. Having seen the moments of laughter from my loved ones through the years of my divorce, I recognise it anywhere. It’s anything but funny.
While my story relates to asian women, this goes beyond geography and gender. All of us feel the pain of loneliness and all of us age. That is just universal truth. There is no arguing.
We didn’t get to finish the conversation yet I left them with some food for thought that I’ll also leave for you:
1. Own Your Problems: It’s often easier to place the problem on someone else because at some level, it takes us one degree away from it. Whether you want to get married, lose weight or quit smoking, accept that you want it. And if that’s not what you want, accept and acknowledge that too. Say it to yourself again and again because you need to know what you want and what you don’t want.
2. When You Want Something, Give It All You’ve Got:You win some, you lose some, yet there is just no excuse not to put on a good fight! Push every boundary and challenge every limit. After all, its your goal!
3. The Law Of Attraction:Just a reminder from ‘The Secret’. Everything in life begins with what you think you are worth. Where it’s a job or a relationship, if you believe deeply that you don’t have much to offer, then that is just what you will attract – and deliver.
Whether you are 30 or 300, lesbian or gay, single or divorced, Indian or American, you have every right to walk this earth with your head held high just as much as everyone else. So take a moment and determine your worth.
As Eleanor Roosevelt put it, ‘no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ I would add, ‘rip of that consent and shred it to bits.’
Have a worthwhile day!