Tell us about yourself:
My name is Jess, I am 29, and I am a successful MUA. In the last three years, I have felt the pressures from every bibi, massi, and mother around. People ask me constantly if i am with someone, but truth be told I have been happy and focused on myself for so long that I kind of forgot to look.
At 29, I have tried everything possible to put myself out there; dating apps, speed dating, family connections you name it, I have done it! I was 28 when I felt ‘ready’ to get married, I mean, is anyone really ‘ready?’ It came to a point where the conversation would come up, and I didn’t have so much anxiety and began to come around to the idea. So here I am almost 30 and questioning if my so-called prince is out there after all the frogs I have encountered.
Do you have any rememberable dating experiences?
I went to a Hindu/Sikh speed dating event where the quality of women was of a much higher caliber than the men. The more I drank, the funnier I found it. In fact, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
By the end of the night, all the girls sat together and explained their frustrations. 3 minutes with someone who is 30 and aspires to be an astronaut was interesting, to say the least. When a man answers to ‘if your house was on fire and you could only save 1 thing what would you save?’ And he replies ‘his bed by carrying it on his back’ I think you need to question why you are even putting yourself through this. It would be safe to say speed dating wasn’t successful.
I tried an online dating app. I filtered through so many men I didn’t have anyone left to swipe. So I started again, this time I swiped yes to people I wouldn’t usually swipe for. Judging someone purely based on aesthetics makes you extremely picky because you are just comparing it to whatever your version is of an ideal man.
I started talking to one guy in particular, and after a week or so of giving him excuses to why he can’t call me, I struck up the courage to give him the go-ahead. So as soon as he spoke, I was taken aback by his very high pitched feminine voice. Still, I continued the conversation, until I asked what he wanted in a wife and all he could say was ‘someone to get on with his mum and have roti on the table when he comes home from work.’ ERMMMM IMMEDIATE BLOCK & DELETE! Men like this frustrate me, I have waited this long and become something of myself to give it all up to be a 1950’s housewife, I think not.
What do you struggle with?
One of the main things I personally struggle with is connecting with people in an unnatural environment; online, a date set up by your parents, a wedding with random aunties getting an eye full. I find it very unnatural and awkward.
What are the constant questions you get asked?
- So when you getting married?
- So you will be soon then?
- What about you, getting married yet?
- Are you fixed up then?
- Why haven’t you found anyone?
- Have you found anyone yet?
- Why are not you married yet?
- Do you not know anyone you could marry?
- Anyone here you like? at a family event
- Are you looking hard enough?
Do you feel like you are a failure because you are not engaged/ married?
I don’t feel as though I am a failure because I have achieved so many other things. If I was married and hadn’t progressed in my career, I would feel the same about that. I do, however, feel pressured by putting myself under pressure, pressure from family, and the general expectation. The majority of girls of this generation in my family are married – some with kids already. When is this gonna happen for me? When will I find the right person? Is it ever gonna happen? But I also won’t compromise on settling for the sake of it, because I do love myself enough to know my worth.
Society and culture: what part has it played?
Every function I go to, I get asked when I’m getting married. My mum shows me pictures of boys who are certainly not of my taste. It’s an expectation that of a certain age you should be married or you get left on the shelf. It’s a horrible stigma, even now I still have members of my family telling me I’m too old already but am I, really? Am I gonna be so much happier married? Also having to marry someone of your culture/caste/race is an unnecessary added pressure. It is hard enough to find someone without having to look through their ancestors DNA!
What is your advice to other AWMB?
As Asian women, we are so confined and trapped by boundaries even if we don’t know it. We might be ‘allowed’ to move out for uni, go for a drink, take that girls holidays, go and party and wear what we like. Do our parents feel guilty at the fact that one day we will all be expected to get married and have babies? We are taught to stay away from boys, not have boyfriends and not to explore our sexuality, but as soon as you are of an age, you are expected to be ready for marriage. We go to mixed schools and live in a diverse country. We work with people from all corners of the world, and we walk the streets with all walks of life yet the girls must marry a brown man who the family approves of? Yet the men in our cultures can literally do whatever they want, how does that work?!
I’d say it’s difficult in this generation, but I know for my children I will be breaking these boundaries and giving my daughters of the future freedom to make the choices they want without having an ‘expiry date.’ My one piece of advice to others in my situation is to do what you want, be you, love yourself because you are amazing. And if you are confined and pressured by others, stay resilient and grow from it and make a change for our future girls. I might not be married, but boy am I happy; happy with what I have achieved and with what is to come. So make sure you keep your head held high and maintain yourself and have a standard. Yes you may ‘need’ to get married if that is what you want, but never settle for anything beneath you just to tick a box, LOVE YOURSELF GIRL