I was born and raised in India. In my culture, it is common for families to marry off their daughters when they are in their early 20s. As for career and looking for better opportunities, the women are supposed to find these after marriage.
The sad truth is, even in 2020, marriage still defines the life of an Indian woman. Having a good husband and family are considered as trophies, and no matter how many accolades a woman has earned in her life, if she is single, she is deemed to have “lost out” in her struggle to be independent.
I am a 28-year-old unmarried woman. As Indian standards go, I am already “too old”. I missed the train that is supposed to take women to a life of eternal happiness. No matter what I do, I won’t be complete.
Luckily, my parents don’t pressure me. But my extended family used to throw jibes at me in every family gathering I attended. According to them, “Career and all is okay, but no man would want to marry you if you’re past your prime.”
Now, even they have grown tired of it, giving me up as a lost cause. They have never said, “I’m so proud of all that you’ve achieved” and always stuck to, “You should have gotten married when there was still time. If you’re willing, I can still manage some good men for you. Sharma Ji's son is 34, but he got divorced three years back, and I heard he is looking for alliances.”
Divorcees. That’s all I am worthy of now, according to the elders in my family. Not that there’s anything wrong in marrying someone who was once married before, but according to the yardstick the Indian society uses, that is how my worth will be measured.
By all societal standards, I should have been unhappy.
But to close friends and people who know me, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I have a great job with awesome perks including — and not exclusive to — leaving me with enough time to write. I create content on a daily basis and have connected with people from all over the world through my writing. I keep learning new skills and trying out things I’d never dared to before.
In no point in my life had I felt happier or freer than I do today.
Do I think all this would have been possible if I’d married when I was 23? No!
This concept of discovering yourself, of finding your purpose, of learning what your goal in life is — that is what I refer to when I say “second puberty”.
According to Healthline, puberty is when your body undergoes a series of physical changes to attain sexual maturity.
I like to call the stage when your mind undergoes a series of transformations and helps you attain emotional maturity as your second puberty. I was able to get closer to mine because I had the whole world to myself in my early 20s. I could go in any direction my heart wished to, take risks, and live life without any strings tying me down.
If I were married before this, my emotional and intellectual growth would probably have been stunted, letting me live a life confined in a cage I’d chosen with my own hands.
In their early 20s, very few people have the clarity to know for certain what kind of life they want for themselves. The partner they choose in their youth might not be the one they’d be willing to spend the rest of their lives with.
It sounds crazy, but the things that added meaning to my life when I was in college seem hardly more than mere blips on my radar now. If I had chosen a life partner then, I am terrified to think what might happen if I outgrew them the same way I outgrew so many of my interests and hobbies from six years back.
If there’s one thing I wish every person would know, it’s this: don’t get married before you attain your second puberty. This will help you:
- Explore all the avenues that pique your interest and settle on a few (or one) that sparks fire in your heart.
- Understand yourself better and be clear about the kind of life you want for yourself.
- Understand the kind of expectations you have from a partner and learn how to draw clear boundaries.
- Get enough time to focus on laying the foundation for the kind of life you always wanted.
- Enjoy your solitude and learn to be comfortable in your own company without feeling the need for someone else to “complete” you — a toxic trait most common in codependent relationships.
- Attain the emotional maturity and financial independence to choose your own partner and not “settle” for the first person you fall in love with (or the one your parents choose for you).
Yes, the pressure of marrying early is real, especially if you are a woman in a country like India. But marriage is a huge decision, and it shouldn’t be made in haste. You need to have the required emotional maturity to demand from yourself and your partner the kind of life you want, and the financial freedom to pull it off.
After all, you don’t need to love yourself to love someone else. But, as this post by Psychology Today puts it:
“You should like yourself before you commit to someone else. Because when you like yourself, you will make healthy choices and create a space (build a relationship) that will promote self-love.”
Can I say I’ve hit my second puberty? Probably not fully there yet, but I’m well on my way. But am I ready for marriage? No!
When you are emotionally mature and independent enough to want to share your life with another person, you will know. Until then, don’t let society force you into thinking you’re a failure for not having found a life partner yet.
Age is just a number. Any potential partner who thinks you are too old for them — well, maybe you two aren’t compatible, and you need to look for more open-minded people.
It’s your life, and whether you want to marry early, late, or not marry at all, the decision belongs to you. Don’t convince yourself of anything less than that.