Almost Thirty-Six and Still Single
“So, you find a nice gentleman as yet?” asked my Aunt Grace, as she held my hand and looked at me with the anticipating delight of someone expecting the sweet drip of a juicy love story. I braced myself for the flush of disappointment that I knew my answer would bring.
I had teetered in this familiar dance with scores of friends and family members over the years, when they enquired about my dating life. I don’t know what I found more uncomfortable, the expectation that I should’ve been married already or addressing the possibility that it might not happen for me.
A single woman in her thirties represents an anomaly that many people struggle to discuss gracefully. I find that the awkward dance of curious inquisition from the outside often follows the same sequence, as this conversation with my well-meaning Aunt Grace.
Step One: The theory stage, involves the teasing out a reason behind my consistent single-hood.
“So, why you haven’t found anyone yet? You’re such a great girl.”
My mouth is agape as I search for an answer. What makes me stumble is that I really don’t have a clear justifiable cause for being single. (Can one even exist? Is it me or God she should be asking?) Plus being asked to postulate a reason is hampered by my own conflicting angst and contentment.
You see it is conversations like this that stir the conundrum of contradiction that single women in their thirties navigate on a regular basis:
Yes, you feel a twinge of envy when a girlfriend tells you she’s engaged. But you are also gleeful when you can make plans (life or daily) without consulting someone else’s schedule.
You sense some people perceive your singleness as symptomatic of a grand life failure. But you also know that you would not ticked as many personal and professional goals off your list, if you had been traipsing behind a man.
Sometimes you do worry that you might be running out of time to have a family, but you’re also grateful that you have the time to focus on taking care of yourself.
Step Two: the suggestion stage, usually characterized by “You should try online dating”.
“As if most thirtysomethings haven't thought of this already. As if they haven't already been bombarded by potential suitors with unsolicited dick pics,” says Megan McLachlan. By this point, I’m very tempted to email Aunt Grace Megan’s article on “7 Things Not to Say to a Single Woman in her 30’s.”
There is a pensive lull on her part and I hope that the cross-examination fox trot is over. But then I get whacked in the knee with
Stage Three: The Verdict. “Maybe you’re being too picky.” Hmmm … This one is tricky.
She might actually have a point here. On one hand you are confident your series of failed suitors either weren’t that into you or were rightly assessed as unworthy. On the other, you heed the warning that if you stick to the list you made in your 20’s, your standards might now be unrealistic. I am usually the mascot for the “I-know-what-I-want-and-I’m-not-settling” parade. But it does make me wonder if I am dangerously reducing the field of men qualified to date me.
The question Aunt Grace doesn’t ask is “Are you happy?” Ironically, here she might have found the goldmine of a story she had been digging for, as it is my relationship with myself that’s been the sweetest love story of them all.
I was a hot mess after my breakup from a serious two-year relationship, seven years ago. In the years that followed, lingering insecurities and feelings of rejection propelled the desire get married. Now, that I’ve conquered many other life’s challenges by the grit of my own strength and have healed with the support of wonderful coaches and solid sisterhood friendships, I’m on a new tier of self-love and confidence. The happier I am, the less I yearn to get hitched.
Don’t get me wrong. I do still want it.
But now that I’ve been through fires as a single woman and have come out content, I can suss that the goal of marriage and family are not requirements for my happiness.
My dear aunt finally runs out of steam and settles in her exasperation that she can’t figure out or fix my ‘almost-thirty-six-and-still-single’ status. I pat myself on the back for making it through another one of these inquisitions. I leave the conversation feeling assured that my journey doesn’t need to be understood by others.
Yes, I am part of a growing group of social anomaly.
But, the notion of being single in your thirties is no longer frightening. I don’t succumb to self-doubt inflicted by nosy people when they ask about my relationship status or feel compelled to action their advice on how to change it.
Instead, I have learnt to enjoy this rich waiting season by choosing to focus on ways to evolve both personally and professionally. When this season has passed and the time comes to embrace married life, I will approach it with greater self-awareness because of my journey to get there.
 Lachlan, Megan. “7 Things not to Say to her Single Woman in her 30’s”
Lisa Camille is a freelance writer and content producer based in Sydney. She hears a story in every moment and loves the power of the written word to change minds, open hearts and take you to hidden places in your psyche. Born and bred in Jamaica, her writing is textured with the colour and charisma that echoes ricochets off the island.