Written by: Admin_SheEvo
There is so much more to age than just being a number.
I looked forward to turning twenty-one with all the hype and excitement it entails. The dream 21st year would bring forth graduation from college, the 21st Key official presentation, and … an engagement ring. The reality was that I graduated and received my golden key (bless my parents). There was no engagement ring or prospects of one. That chapter was closed.
Dreams have a habit of never-ending for young hopefuls. My next age target became twenty-five with all its promising silver-toned ideas. Undoubtedly, the ring would come at 25 or somewhere there. With the best laid-out plans for an Afternoon Tea Party and a mirage of ideas for official courtship, I fell headlong to twenty-five. The “dream” stated, “dream of me putting a ring on your finger”, and the butterflies had a merry-go-round dance in my tummy. Nevertheless, the “dream” was gone within a fortnight. No official courtship, no engagement. And I shut the door on twenty-five, but I resolutely refused to walk away from the number written on the door.
I have had to thoroughly examine why getting married was so important and why it became the ultimate big goal. It was not a forcefully ingrained idea. Neither do I recall it being mentioned in any conversation, which could have led me to think this was the epitome of achievement. However, I have always attached a touch of mystical magic to falling in love, the idea of a wedding day and a husband. Right in our home, I had a beautiful example of marriage modelled for me. I had the kind of parents that held hands, hugged, and not forgetting to mention the kiss on the lips when meeting or departing. A good example was set, and unconsciously, an idea was planted. When I grew up, I wanted to have someone with whom I could share the kind of love I had witnessed in our home. Honestly speaking, I probably thought marriage was easy and simple. Walt Disney also added to the magical enchantment by producing movies and books like Barbie and Swan Lake, Cinderella, and Snow White. I was on a quest to be found by a Handsome Prince and to live with him Happily- Ever- After. Then I went through high school and college, most likely carrying myself around like a maiden in debutante season, seeking the right Mr Darcy. My peers would somehow end up saying, “you’re the most likely one to get married before any of us”, and “any mother would want you for a daughter-in-law”. Fast forward a few years, a number of these peers have since married and settled down- and I’m enjoying my single independence. Considering all this, I realized that I fell in love with the idea of being in love and getting married, mainly due to the environment I grew up in.
So, I dreaded the very idea of celebrating my birthday after twenty-five. With each following year, I defiantly chose not to admit that I was a day past twenty-five. There were no sandcastles on the beach for the waves of age to sweep away. I was terrified to acknowledge the reality that to the society I live in, I was officially an OLD MAID, though unannounced.
And if you consult the Oxford Dictionary, this derogatory term is no less stinging as its pejorative alternative: SPINSTER. An old maid is a single woman regarded as too old for marriage.
Although not voiced out loud, the actions of loved ones and some consoling remarks along the way confirmed my thoughts on this idea of being an old maid. Every conversation about dating, relationships, courtships and weddings eventually ends with a pointed look in my direction. And sometimes a quick sigh, or a well-meant “it’ll be your season soon”. Even an unconscious connotation, “you’re single by choice”.
Then there are the brothers who think it is flattering to ask for your age and ask, “Where have you been?” the minute they hear you are over twenty-five. The question insinuates that there must be something wrong with me if I am still single at this age. Adding injury to insult, some go on to suggest that the reason why must be because I am one of “those sisters” that kick brothers to the curb. An attack on feminine personality if one is over 25 and unmarried. This led me to Sophia Benoit’s shared tweet on the word THORNBACK on Twitter. In her tweet, she wrote, “Omg, I just found out that spinster used to be reserved for women 23-26 and that after you turned 26 if you were unmarried, you became a… THORNBACK.” Despite this word being widely celebrated over the internet, I could not get past the reference to a ray, like a guitarfish with spines on the back and tail. Yet another disparaging term.
As 2020 unfolded, I decided to rise beyond the blow to my self-esteem and start facing reality. There was inspiration from motivational speakers and, ultimately, from the Bible itself. I was encouraged that Rebekah was about her business when Eliezer found her for Isaac (Genesis 24). So the pursuit of another black gown and cap was not a bad idea for me! I continued with Rachel, waiting for 14 years for love, and Ruth, who suffered through widowhood and immigration to a foreign land to meet love. The list is endless.
I forged on with determination towards celebrating twenty-eight without expecting much. The tears were overwhelming, and the photo shoot showed courage, facing my age in the face and pronouncing it to the world again. In Becoming, Michelle Obama said, “Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts. Good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.” It’s one of the things that keeps me waiting—just trusting my instincts. And finally, Heather Lindsey accurately said, “Never place (your)identity in temporary things”.
If anything, waiting beyond twenty-five has taught me the greatest lessons: patience to endure and faith to realize and appreciate the present moment. I have solemnly removed my rose-tinted glasses from my early years and learnt that marriage isn’t just the wedding day but the next sixty to eighty years of one’s life. There is no need to hurry that. While in the waiting season, I live a purpose-driven life, have nursed and healed a broken heart, and have also discovered the kind of me that I would like to live with for the rest of my life. And if one day, on some proverbial steed, you hear church bells chiming and see me in a white gown, the time will be right, and some dream will be fulfilled… Twenty-eight is just my temporary home.
By Sheriffa-rose Isa