Ask Dr Maymunah: Will I Die Lonely?
I’m 29 and single. My mates are moving forward with their lives, getting married and even having children, yet I’m still struggling to get a second date. I try so hard to be the type of woman anyone would want to marry. I am smart, educated, a good home-maker, a cook and financially independent. I consider myself beautiful – sexy even.
Why doesn’t anyone want me? I have a good job and a healthy social life. I am physically active and I have seen men stare at my behind when I jog. So why is it that I am stuck? I feel like I am running mad. Will I die alone? Please, doctor. Help me!
– Sarah, Lagos
It is not about you having a problem. A lot of people feel this way, like the people around you are moving forward yet your life seems to be standing still or, worse, going backwards. The fact is, this isn’t a board game. No one is moving ahead several spaces by getting married or having kids. That is not the way life works. Some people who are married or have kids feel stuck, like they are not living their lives the way they should or want to.
You cannot keep comparing yourself to others because, as the saying goes, “There is a time for everything.” Look inward, discover what you truly want and desire, and cultivate a life that you enjoy, one not dependent on ‘achievements’.
I’m not saying that it is wrong for you to feel a little panicky about your life when you take part in someone’s celebration of something you’re not sure you will ever have. If you truly want to get married and have kids, it is okay to feel scared that you will not get your dream. However, to have that dream means opening up to someone, and you cannot successfully do that if you are scrabbling and rushing to achieve something. If you are not completely accepting of who you are, then work to achieve that.
Additionally, do not diminish yourself by using negative language to talk about yourself or tell your story. Women tend to do this often because our culture always places these inaccurate, reductive expectations on us.
“You have to get married or be a mother to truly be a woman.” You’re doing the same thing to yourself every time you say, think or believe that being single means that something is wrong with you, you are a failure or getting left behind. It’s important to change your mindset. You don’t need to define your identity around being a mother or a wife just because you are a woman.
You have to redefine what “moving forward” means to you. Getting married and having children is not necessarily moving forward, and being single and childless is not stuck. Discover what your forward motion is, embrace it and own it with all your heart.
You need to learn to run your race. Recognise that change is inevitable and mostly beyond your control. Discover and love yourself. Do not rush or force things. Bit by bit, you will get to where you desire to be.
All the best!