Do you have a friend?: A 20-something’s musings on the expectation that she should be married or headed in this direction by now

“Na chali (And a boyfriend)?” This was my brother’s very worthwhile contribution to a list my mother was making on the first day of this year. She called it ‘family resolutions.’ We all gave contributions of what we thought the Gicovi family should, would or could do in 2014. The list eventually included everyone’s individual resolutions, starting with the youngest, my then 19 year-old brother, followed by me. I had 10 things written on my list when my brother carefully noted that I had left out a very important one. My mother agreed, and they both looked at me in askance. Why didn’t I want a boyfriend added to the things I wanted in 2014? I laughed and rolled my eyes and said something like, “OK! Throw it in there with the rest.” And my mother did, writing something very respectful like “the husband God intended” or something. Far from throwing it in there like I had said. After that, our conversation digressed to other non-dating related resolutions that I cannot remember. Does this happen to you guys when you make family resolutions? You don’t make family resolutions? What kind of life is that?

The next day, one of those hot, sweltering afternoons synonymous with January weather in Nairobi, I was interviewing someone for an article I was writing (for work). Now, I usually give my interviewees a chance to ask a few questions, usually about me, after we’re done. I do a lot of profiles and get a great deal of information out of people for my interviews so it’s only fair to give them a brief chance to “interview” me as well. So I have just concluded an interview with this stern, grandfatherly, very accomplished 70-something year-old guy, and I tell him about myself and what I do, blah blah blah, I love writing, blah blah blah, the importance of telling people’s stories… This is part of my (very sincere but may not seem like it because I say it too many times!) usual speech, but I digress. He asks how old I am. 25. He nods then goes on to ask, “Do you have a friend?” Friend? Who says friend? For the purposes of clarity and for the sake of people born after 1990, he meant boyfriend. “No. I do not have a friend.” He wants to close the interview with a prayer, and asks if I’d like him to pray for my “friend”. I agree (again, very sincerely) but also try not to look amused.

A few days later, I had a male friend applauding the fact that I am pursuing a master’s degree then pointing my left hand and saying all that remained was someone putting a ring on it. These three events took place in the first week of January. Since then, I have had different people ask me when they are coming to eat pilau (loosely translates to the ingesting of copious amounts of a spicy Swahili rice dish commonly served at weddings and other celebrations).

salt shaker wedding
Somewhat unrelated graphic but look at these two saltshakers! Adorbs! 🙂

When my older sister, two years older, got married, three years ago, I did get the usual (for a slightly younger sibling I suppose), “You’re next” and “Yako ni lini? (When is yours?)” comments from a few relatives and friends, but I had just turned 23. I had graduated the previous year, and was a few months into my first job. These comments were not serious, playful even. Fast forward to present day. 26 year-old female, four years into her first job and nearly completing a master’s degree. When will she get married? Is she dating? No boyfriend? Oh.

I chuckle at these concerns. I never thought I’d get here. It always feels like someone else, and not me, who’s being talked about. I often wonder about this supposed course our lives are supposed to follow. These unwritten rules that we strive to abide by. Maybe I need to state at this point that I am not of the feminist movement. Neither am I jaded nor the fierce miss independent type (I like free food :D). Relationships, healthy ones, are wonderful, and marriage is a beautiful thing and I hope to be married, with the proverbial 2.5 kids at some point. Nonetheless, I am wary of the “don’t wait too long” “don’t be choosy” or “you’ll intimidate a man if you’re too learned (yes, there are people saying this in 2014!)” advice. I really doubt that anyone needs to be reminded that time is running out. We have Facebook for that. 😀 On a serious note though, I feel we need to respect the fact that everyone’s life takes a different course. There’s no written life script that we should all follow.

I also wonder about other matters in relation to this. How did marriage become an end-goal? Study hard, find a job, get married and settle down then life’s complete, right? Also, have we so romanticized the idea of finding a life partner and crafting the perfect wedding that we forget about the ‘ever after’? Do other significant life accomplishments seem to matter less to us if we are not married at a certain age? And how did we come to abnormalize(sic) the unmarried single of particular age? Surely something must be wrong with her/him. Really? Maybe we need a rewiring of sorts on this subject.

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14 thoughts on “Do you have a friend?: A 20-something’s musings on the expectation that she should be married or headed in this direction by now

  1. very good article (as usual) Ed. I always enjoy reading your blogs. I felt you raised an important point about how people tend to ‘abnormalise’ singlehood. It’s time we allow people to be who God created them to be – whether single or married and to stop trying to make everyone fit into the same timetable. Good job.

  2. ,

    Do you have a friend 🙂 Old people make me happy! They also make me feel like crying, but mostly happy.

    ”How did marriage become an end-goal? Study hard, find a job, get married and settle down then life’s complete, right? Also, have we so romanticized the idea of finding a life partner and crafting the perfect wedding that we forget about the ‘ever after’? Do other significant life accomplishments seem to matter less to us if we are not married at a certain age? And how did we come to abnormalize(sic) the unmarried single of particular age?”

    What of married people who are yearning to get their degrees now? What of getting children at 40 etc etc.Does this mean ‘something is wrong with these people?’ We need to respect this >>> ”I feel we need to respect the fact that everyone’s life takes a different course. There’s no written life script that we should all follow.”

    It is my 26th birthday today and the number of ‘Friends’ up for sale or something from ‘caring relatives’ who also need me to get my PhD today and keep the children coming before the sudden menopause syndrome . Like people, chill!

    Bottom line 🙂 God defines our path, whichever side it starts.

    PS: The image 🙂 Adorbs!

    • Glad you could relate miss! Different strokes for different folks ey. Also, those relatives do need a chill pill! Hope you enjoyed your birthday. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. This story is telling of so many of our experiences as young adults, more so if you have siblings, cousins and close family friends who are on the “right path” to settling down. May be it is because I may know you from another life, when Brown shoes and Long Grey skirts were the biggest barrier to our social development (wink wink..). Today, life is more complicated than that, it was a glorious time in comparison.

    Anyway, I concur that Facebook is currently our biggest reminder of milestones un-turned, I thank God for your light musing because it reminded me that some of my peers are also on various paths to self actualization. Keep it up ED and God will certainly come through in good time.

    Cheers!

    • I see what you did there Nkatha. You ex-Bomerian you! 😉 Who knew we’d get here then? I don’t believe there is a “right path” as mentioned. Married or single, none of us should live our lives according to other people’s standards or expectations. I pray that God may guide you in his way too. Thanks for reading!

  4. Imagine after the conversation about your blogging, this is the first time I get to read something on it. I love it.

  5. Great read. Regardless,we all find it unnecessary considering what such relations entail but as it always does( As my mum likes to stress) – the sudden dawning fact that life is too short to live it alone smacks you right in the face. In finding ‘a friend’, you find companionship, intimacy, affection and comm skills that have and should stand the test of time to a point it transcends to near telepathy.
    I sail the same boat as well,with the momentary delusions of living in Clooneys’ world; (I digress) I prefer women who cultivate their minds over them that do so their posteriors, so pursue your studies/career and realise self worth…though we live in a world that’s quickly fading over time and we might not live to see our Grand-kids or the exponential growth spurt of succeeding generations. That alone shatters my ambition of raising a legacy (call it seeds of tribute to mother Gaia) and as those sayings go – ‘You’re on a biological time bomb’ e.t.c. sort of dampens such rational kindred spirits as ours.
    We live and we learn though…and your perspective is digestive literature but if you start noticing that issue surfacing a lot – try seeking out that proverbial ‘friend’ (I’m sure you have your custom super solid criterion) not to settle just yet, but to cultivate, nurture and mould a symbiotic connubial relationship. I see how your job is such a perfect escape.

  6. “Friend” that is what my dad says. I dunno maybe in their day it was easier. One of our family friend said during their anniversary that he husband was the only b ou she got letters from in high school. Maybe with the more complex society of today we have delayed it in search for other things. However it is a big commitment and no big deal with taking some time before taking the plunge. Nice piece

    • It is true that our society seems to have become more complex over time. I wonder what it will be like for those being born presently and those yet to be born. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  7. Having been through this about 2 years back, I totally feel you. Everyone has their own path, and the more we compare the more we rob ourselves of the right to go through our own path in life. I kept getting the ‘when are you getting married’ and ‘when are you doing a masters’ questions from those notorious uncles and aunts as if I am on some sort of countdown. It’s good to learn to just do you.

  8. First time I read your work was when your sis moved out to get married…lovely read right here, that line of questioning has become stale,I see it a mile away and sometimes sidestep it :)…it’s not like there’s a predicted apocalypse,it happens when it happens,my dad always says when he met my mum(his flower) he wasn’t looking.

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