God forbid you be single in your mid to late-20s… By your 30s, the way people look at you expectantly when they ask you if you are in a relationship...
I’ll fast-forward from birth to the teenage years… So here’s what typically happens from about age 13: go to school (do not talk to boys…focus on your books), go to university (focus on your books, but keep an eye open for one or two boys), graduate from university, get married, have children, continue living. Simple, right?
These days the dynamics are different due to many environmental factors including the state of our economy (low income vs. high cost of living) which pretty much requires keen focus on a career and making money in order to survive on your own before even thinking about accommodating another human being in your life;
Western influence, which allows some leniency in the approach to courtship; and ‘wokeness’, which is essentially avoiding the mistakes of parents who got married naïve and are now going through some crazy issues that those of “marriage age” now really cannot be bothered to deal with.
There might be many more reasons, but these are the first few that first come to mind.
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However, interestingly, despite these modern movements, some traditional expectations persist. Since I moved back to Lagos a few years ago, there has been some sort of pressure to be in a relationship or to get married. This comes from people of my parents’ generation, the preceding generation and even the current generation… And the pressure increases as you get older…God forbid you be single in your mid to late-20s…
By your 30s, the way people look at you expectantly when they ask you if you are in a relationship and then change to sheer disappointment when you say that you are not could begin to make you feel like you have a serious disease; whereas you are actually okay with the way your life is without the constant remainder of the perceived social taboo of being single.
Sometimes, it seems to me that some people are in it this thing called marriage for the excitement of a splashy wedding (“owambe”) or really just to conform to this expectation that marriage equals to success in life. We do not give much thought the life-long commitment of marriage; sometimes the thought process seems just a little shallow.
I may be wrong, but when I look at some relationships these days (both young and old couples), I struggle to find much depth, which is why I am not surprised to hear about some marriages, which have ended in divorce within a few short months or maybe one or two years of the weddings; some in which there is no foundation of the fundamentals of a typical relationship between friends or lovers; some in which the sexuality of one or both of the partners is questionable.
This is however very much one side to this complex issue of relationships and the incentives to marry. I understand that some people have found themselves in such dire positions and situations that marriage may actually be their only option out, hence they may miss out on these basic aspects of what typical courtship should be. E.g. Those who live in extreme poverty, come from abusive backgrounds, etc.
To be honest, I really cannot judge any of these situations and any other situation at all because I cannot tell how things pan out in life (for instance, some people in great relationships at the beginning may end up divorced because some people change for worse, or maybe a certain situation moves the couple to a unliveable circumstances)…I don’t know, I’m not a psychic. I try to be optimistic, but in reality, shit really does happen.
However, I just wonder how those who are privileged with options and the freedom to choose the life they want make some decisions. Why get married, or be in a relationship if you very clearly see early signs that it is only going to end up in a shambles? Maybe my thought process is like so because I have not found myself in such a situation, or maybe it’s because I do not view marriage as a do or die affair, as much as it would be a “nice to have”.
I do love the concept of love and companionship; I have had the privilege to witness some of the most beautiful and intimate weddings and marriages, in which I have confidence in the genuine love and friendship that the couples share, which would blossom into a life of passion and companionship (amongst challenges which are an inevitable aspect of a life in general).
While some may have it on their life’s path to have found their soul mate a young age, it seems to me that other young Nigerians begin to panic; ladies when they begin to approach their late 20s and men from their mid-30s.
Why are people afraid of being alone? The fact that a person is alone does not mean that he or she is lonely or sad. It just means that the timing may not right; the person’s standards may not yet have been met; or really, that marriage may not be for that person. There are many other great accomplishments life has to offer and we would only see them if we were not so fixated on the expectations of our society.
Has anyone in Nigeria ever given that some thought? Some serious thought… Why does society stigmatise some of those who have actually made a choice to remain single? It’s like a pity-fest when people ask about your relationship status, you tell them you are single, they give you that pitiful look whilst thinking “But I really love my life the way it is.
There is absolutely no need to feel sorry for me.” Or what about that common scenario at the workplace where the temperamental female in a senior position is labelled a bitch and people blame her behaviour on the fact that she is single. What if she simply just a sociopath? Does marriage have to be considered one of the main factors that correlates to a person’s happiness?
I think people need to get over this pity party and learn to be okay with being single. Here are a few reasons why:
You are in better control of your time, and do not have to share it with anyone
You can be proud of taking care of yourself without relying on someone to do so
You can be proud of refusing to settle for someone who does not measure up to your standards
You can focus on all the things you are actually passionate about
You can have fun the way YOU choose to
You can discover more about yourself in solitude and learn how to improve to become your own best version
There is wayyyyy more to life than being in a relationship.
Written by Oyin Egbeyemi.
Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer.