Until 4 years ago, I was in an abusive 7-year relationship that left my career, finances, self-esteem and mental health in tatters; I was a shell of a human, riddled with anxiety and totally isolated from everybody I knew.
After breaking free from what many called my learning curve, I decided that I wouldn’t step straight back into another relationship like many people do. I wanted to stay single, take a few years to focus on myself, spend time with my family, rebuild friendships and throw myself into the career that I had slowly let regress.
Instead of searching for a Mr. Right to pick me up and take care of me – I would do it myself. I didn’t want to become somebodies dependent; I didn’t want to find myself either – I wanted to build a new, better, stronger, more resilient version of me. A me who would choose the fucks she wished to give.
The downside of finding independence in your late twenties, is that men and women alike, seem to think that your ticking time-bomb of a uterus is their concern. And they really, really are concerned.
I’ve had extended family members, co-workers, shop staff, hairdressers, even taxi drivers asking me why I’m still single, unmarried and without children, when I’m fast approaching the big 3-0. An Uber driver once even asked my mother how she felt about my “situation” right in front of me, as he continued to express his dislike for the strong headedness of the modern, millennial woman.
On the majority of these occasions, I have been reminded that women shouldn’t have children over the age of 34, as they would be geriatric mothers. I’ve also been told that “It’s OK if you don’t want children, many people don’t have them” – when I’m only 29 and have never said that I don’t want them, I just haven’t met the right person yet.
Why does society try to pressure women into settling down with someone who isn’t right, just so they can tick the boxes of sharing a home with someone, being married and having children, with just the right age gaps between them? Surely there is more to life than caring about whether a stranger has ticked said boxes, before the traditionally recognised deadline?
I decided to focus on rebuilding my life and learning to love myself after a traumatic relationship that left me utterly broken. I’m sick of feeling judged and punished for not crawling back or jumping straight into another relationship – and considering 6.1 million women in the U.S and 3.5 million in the U.K are unable to conceive, I do also feel it’s slightly unethical to ask women why they haven’t had children.
So if you find yourself tempted to ask questions about something as so deeply personal as this, ask yourself two things first:
1) Would you ask a single male of the same age, the same question?
And 2) is it really, truly, any of your business?
… I suspect the answer is no.
By Tristen Lee