Being 35 and single never bothered me. The whole getting older thing doesn’t freak me out either. I actually pride myself on being 35 and didn’t make decisions based on fear or what society expected me to do. Traveling around the world, I met others just like me who feel exactly the same way I do. I’ve found that not everybody follows the same path in life. I can only speak on behalf of American culture because thats the one I grew up in. There are unconscious and conscious societal norms where everyone follows a linear path through life: go to college, get married, buy a house, have 2 kids. I was also unknowingly following these paths too because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do. However, what happens when your instincts tell you that the path isn’t right? You take a detour, a side road or just full on get off the path? It leaves people uncomfortable because all of a sudden you’re doing something different.
I look at my own life. I was in a serious long term relationship that was heading towards marriage. I just knew in my gut that the timing wasn’t right for me and for us. It would’ve been so easy to have just gone with it because honestly, that’s what everyone seemed to be doing (settling). Side note: who am I to judge right? Everyone is motivated by different things e.g. money, security and companionship. When I quit my job, everyone thought I was crazy because it was a great job that offered financial security and a good income. People ask me all the time why aren’t you married? Implying that I wasn’t trying to put myself out there and in some way I was failing at life.
Currently, I’m training for the NYC marathon which any of you who’ve trained for a marathon knows that it’s extremely time consuming. I was staying with my aunt and uncle where my grandma also lives and she said, “stop running and get married already!” Bless her soul but I don’t think she understands what it actually takes to find love these days. There are so many uncontrollable variables like picking the right online dating apps, actually putting yourself out there, being vulnerable, having things in common with the person as well as bigger life goals. I’ve discovered that making a deep connection with someone is really rare. By the way, she was very against me being on a dating app.
When I was in Sapa Vietnam, I had never been so grateful to be a single thirty something. If you read my post about Sapa (read here), you know that I went on a trek with Khu from Sapa Sisters. She’s 23 years old with 2 kids. Her salary supports her family as well as her husband’s family. She’s not only a tour guide but a mother and a wife. Her family operates a farm which she helps out as well. I asked her if her husband speaks English and she said he doesn’t; most of the women in Sapa speak English and work as trekking guides to support their families. I was so intrigued by this seemingly modern take on a woman’s role in the family. Because most of the women speak English from working the tours, they can get the best jobs and therefore, are the primary bread winners.
When Khu and I took a break on top of a mountain, she asked me how old I was. When I said I was 35 and single she didn’t look at me with judgement, she just said that at my age, I would be a grandmother in Sapa. She also said that I was incredibly lucky to have that kind of freedom to travel the world and to not have to take care of anybody. That conversation really struck me. Here’s a woman who’s only 23, she’s so young and has her whole life ahead of her. When I was 23, I went backpacking through South East Asia. My biggest concern was how I was going to balance my social life with my job. She has to take care of a family of 6+ whereas I’m 35 with no one to worry about but myself. Talk about societal pressures!
I guess the moral of the story is, you’re not a woman from Sapa, Vietnam (unless you are). You don’t have to get married at 23, have 2 kids and support a family of 6. Trust the timing of your life. Not everyone was meant to get married at exactly the same time. We all have different callings in life that require us to focus on different things at given points in our lives. We as women should feel incredibly grateful that we have a CHOICE. We can dictate our lives and our happiness is in our hands.