July 6th, 2020 – By Camila Karalyte
It’s the situation none of us look forward to, meeting with distant relatives and friends and facing the dreaded: why are you still single? What about children? And my all-time favourite, ‘you’re not getting any younger’. It all seems harmless, but it brings with it the overwhelming panic of trying to conform to a certain ideal.
From a young age, most of us had a certain idea of what it looked like to have your life figured out, shaped by society and culture. This usually involved a well-paid career (whether it was something you wanted to do or not), married, a mortgage and children on the way. It was easy for us to imagine a life like this, as it was a close replica of our parent’s lives- marriage and children in their twenties.
Out With The Old
As the world moves forward, desires and ideals are changing. Nowadays, we tend to finish education with the ambition to strive for our dream careers, usually single, or with a partner, without the view of marrying or having children early on. This differs from the old-fashioned beliefs where starting a family and devoting your time and finances to your children was the standard thing to do.
When comparing ages of first time mothers, statistics (from Compare the market) show that the average age between 1969-1971 was 23.7 years old, whereas the average in 2018 was 28.9. There are many possible reasons for why women are choosing to have children at a later age; a combination of not being financially stable and also wanting to explore themselves first, are likely reasons.
The rise of feminism has also had a huge impact over the years, with many people believing that women should have the option to aspire for bigger careers and not succumb to purely being a housewife.
How To Combat The Pressure
The direct and sometimes subtle pressure from others can leave us feeling deflated and stressed. A good way to help eliminate any pressure is to stay private. No one needs to know your relationship business, so if you’re uncomfortable talking about it, make it known. There’s no harm in stating your feelings.
This can also be helped by surrounding yourself with like-minded people, as you can relate to similar feelings and they’ll understand if you want to keep to yourself. How to Navigate the Pressure to Have A Partner Or Babies is a complex situation but there are no right or wrong answers; do what you feel is best for you.
Living a childfree or single lifestyle can be controversial, but you shouldn’t be peer-pressured into feeling bad about it. Dealing with negative comments that you’ll get can be hard but knowing yourself and what you want is crucial to feeling content. You don’t need to explain your reasons to anyone.
‘We must make choices, and with each path taken there is another that is left behind. We are fortunate to live in a society that truly allows us to choose’
In an advanced world, women have options that allow them more freedom, such as freezing their eggs. With this, there is less pressure put on us and our biological clocks as the option to wait is possible. This freedom means women can put themselves, (along with their career and goals) first, before committing to family life.
It can be difficult dealing with the overwhelming pressure, along with other daily stressors, so take the time to reflect and look into the power of journaling. Writing down your emotions can help rationalise them and clear your head.
Things to remember:
It’s your life, no one else’s
Make decisions that will make you happy and stop trying to please everyone because it is impossible. You’re the only one who has to live your life, so make it what you wish.
2. Being single doesn’t equal sadness
Just like a relationship doesn’t equal happiness, being single doesn’t mean sadness. Relationships often carry the stigma that you’re happy and fulfilled, which isn’t always the case. It’s perfectly normal to enjoy your own company. Happiness should be found within yourself, whether you’re single or not.
3. A family doesn’t necessarily mean fulfilment
You can still have a fulfilling life by yourself or without children. Marriage and children do not mean success just like the opposite doesn’t equal failure. There is no need to rush if you’re not ready to commit to these things or if you have no desire for them.
4. Don’t let others put a value of your life
People are quick to jump to conclusions, believing that ‘you must be unhappy being single’. Don’t let them influence you because at the end of the day, whatever you do affects your life and not theirs. Stand by your choices but remember that changing your mind is natural and you shouldn’t feel ashamed if later in life you end up having different views.
The majority of society is becoming more accepting and open-minded towards how we choose to live our lives. However, you will never be able to please everybody.
Do what makes you happy and put your best interests first, because you only need to please yourself. Find peace within your choices and don’t feel pressure from the criticisms of others. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the stress, confide in someone trustworthy or speak to a professional. Reach out to others who may be dealing with similar issues- you’re not alone with your opinions. Mind, the mental health charity, is a great resource to find ways to manage stress and other worries.
Another way to bring serenity into your life is to look at the benefits of adding meditation to your daily routine– this can help achieve peace and reduce stress. It’s a good way to bring harmony to the mind and body.
If you’ve dealt with these issues yourself, comment below how you managed to overcome them.