Growing up, I found myself surrounded by many “let’s get you married tomorrow!” support networks. Rarely did I ever come across a support network in my community that was focused on investing in the self-development of women on a personal or professional level.
In my community, women’s empowerment efforts on self-development and pursuing career goals are rare and often non-existent. Instead, there’s an exaggerated focus on getting young women to prioritize marriage above all other dreams and goals in life.
In a conversation with a mentor of mine not too long ago, I shared with her that I was considering working abroad for a few months. Her response?
“No, I don’t think you should do that. It will ruin your reputation, which will lower the prospect of marriage proposals for you.”
About a year and a half ago, I met up with another mentor of mine to discuss challenges I was facing in search of a job. His response? “Well you’re still in your early twenties. Give it a couple of years and you’ll be married.”
That was the most belittling and absurd career advice I have received.
As a strong-willed stubborn perfectionist, sitting around and waiting for a husband is not something I ever planned to do.
My career plans involve becoming a world renowned expert in design theory and design philosophy. I’m not about to extinguish my passion for a hypothetical marriage that not a single person can guarantee a timeline for.
It’s in God’s hands. That is what I was raised to believe and that is what I will continue to believe.
I can’t fulfill God’s wishes if I know that I have the potential to become a scholar but instead of working towards achieving that potential, I instead spend my energy investing in a hypothetical reality. A reality that doesn’t even make sense to me.
I mean, what’s the point of sharing your life, if you don’t even know what it’s about? However, my community has made it an uphill battle for any woman who prioritizes self-development over marriage to accomplish her goals.
On top of that, they’ve conditioned women to believe that marriage is the be-all-end-all of life. As a result, we largely fail to celebrate the accomplishments of women, unless they’re related to getting married and having kids.
For some reason, my investment in my own growth is far less impressive, than if I were to sit around and wait for a chap to peg me as wifey material. My accomplishments are categorized as being unworthy of recognition and endorsement until I am hitched.
It’s like I am a mirage that no one sees until I get married. Suddenly, I become visible. Suddenly, I can be seen and heard.
It is disturbing that my community has a hard time believing in a women’s potential unless they’re married.
Is it not enough that we are human?
Don’t get me wrong: I believe marriage is a wonderful thing, but for some reason, we tend to forget that a woman’s life begins way before she gets married.