Well, I chose a major that my parents didn’t encourage because it was so new that they did not know what it means – Communication Studies (huh??). My mother was disappointed that I did not follow the accounting route (all girls should take accounting, because it is an iron rice bowl for them and they can do it at home when they have their own families). However, long story short, I didn’t. Not only that, because I have more females than male schoolmates in my cohort (70 female versus 30 male), I didn’t have much chance nor options meeting much guys. My holiday jobs were also female-oriented in positions such as sales assistants or temporary administrative assistants. I started to wonder if there was any problem with me. Yes, eventually I realised I have been dressing too unattractively in pants and shirts, and having straight rebonded hair. I was even wearing the wrong bra size throughout my twenties. I was an idiot seriously. It was in my early thirties that I found that with a permed/wavy hair, some light make-up, and occasional dresses or more feminine tops, PLUS the correct bra size, I was actually attracting attention from guys in the train or shopping malls. It was a great sign of relief as I seriously thought there was something really wrong with me.
Throughout my marketing and now communications career, I still work in a predominantly female environment. Chinese new year and weddings became a torture for me because relatives would start asking me if I have any news etc. Although I know they meant well, it was absolutely annoying for me. Even my mother thought she has “no face” in front of the relatives. At my most recent cousin wedding younger than me by six years or so, my uncle was so concerned that he came over to tell me the merits of having a husband and a family. So I became a 剩女 (literally means “leftover”, pronounced as shengnu). Actually I don’t think I qualify as a 剩女, because the definition means after marriageable age (usually in thirties, have high education and hold a high-paying job). Well, I don’t have a high-paying job.
During the age of 27 to 30, I admitted I became anxious of my singlehood. I envied friends who posted pictures of their wedding photos and soon after, baby photos on their facebook. I started going on speed dating events, met up with guys online and even met them offline. However, I soon realised something. If your time is not right, you would not find the right person. And when you spend intimate time with someone not on the same frequency, each minute passes really slowly. And you got to smile and pretend to be interested in the conversation (Usually I act extra nice and proper towards people I am not familiar with). It’s tiring and I gave up.
As I stepped into my early thirties, I began to compare my married friends and single friends (thankfully, yes I do have quite a fair bit of single friends as well). My married friends start to whine about their husbands, daily chores and mother-in-law horror stories. They also started to complain and talked more about the hardships and troubles of raising kids. However, kids became closer to their hearts than their husbands. In fact, kids surpassed their husbands and became the top spot in their hearts. I wondered in my heart if that was good. When kids grow up, they will leave with their own spouse and set up their own families. It is a very sad scenario when you realised you have nothing to talk to your husband after all these years.
Maybe because I have met a lot of colleagues, some of their divorce stories actually affected me in a negative way. Some of my friends’ not-so-happy marriages also painted a negative picture of marriage to me. In fact, right now, I am slowly relishing the freedom and simplicity that my singlehood life brings. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. Of course, there are down sides too. Whenever I want to go to concert, movies or especially travel, it is hard for me to find companions. My single friends have their own preferences and schedule to follow as well, and I cannot expect them to adhere to my schedule too.
I must also admit that at this age, I do not say much about my status to my colleagues as well. Society has this negative view of singles at workplace. When one hits thirties and still single, colleagues will start gossiping behind her back that there must be something wrong about her. It is ALWAYS the girl.
Facing pressure from parents, workplace and relatives, sometimes I get depressed as well. And yes another down side to being single is you have no one you can turn to when you are unhappy or happy. There is no one to share your joys and sorrows.
In the past, the government even imposes housing regulations that are unfair to the singles. Only couples that are getting married were given rights to purchase houses from the government at a subsidised rate. I am glad that finally this unfair system has seen some changes and singles are now also eligible to purchase these subsidised houses, albeit the restrictions on location.
I wish the society could be kinder to singles. We singles are humans with emotions after all. We need to support ourselves and our families on our own and cope with our daily emotions on our own as well. It takes a lot of courage and independence to do that. So please, stop asking us to stop being choosy. Sometimes we are not and our wish is very simple – to find someone that we can connect. Not all of us are fortunate enough to meet that guy in our twenties. So stop all those negative labelling.