I’m 25 years old and single

And I’m okay with it. 

(Rishta aunties crying in my midst).

I live in Karachi, Pakistan.

Here lies a city that believes marriage is a badge of honor. Here lies a populous that judges a woman’s achievements based on a ring. Here lies a place that believes a woman’s purpose is based on procreating (a little too A Handmaid’s Tale for my liking). Here lies a society that is consumed with marriage talk. Clothes talk. Ring talk. And it goes on and on.

Here lies a place that’s toxic as hell if you’re single.

Like you’re somehow more honorable for getting married? Like you somehow aren’t enough by yourself?

Like you’re somehow honorable for getting married?

I am all woman and I am enough.

I think a lot of people view those who are single as these social pariahs. The second you turn 21, the rishtas come flooding in and you’re told that you’re now “of marriageable age.”

The aunties begin asking:

How old is your daughter?

Is she engaged? 

When is she getting married? 

Should we introduce her to someone?

And you know what? Sometimes I laugh at how ridiculous it all is.

Sometimes I’m caught within their cycle and wonder if marriage really is some form of achievement (insert bullshit). Of course, from time to time, I do love the idea of marriage but I don’t love the system – the way rishta aunties are so common, the way everyone views you like a piece of a puzzle that needs another to get ahead in life. 

I’m focusing on building my life, trying to pursue a career in writing, getting to know who I really am – but does society view that as a victory? Do they see me as an adult? Probably not.

You are a fucking queen and your happiness lies in all those pieces.

Notions, like not wearing red lipstick before your wedding, not staying out late at night, doing x or y thing before you’re married, just trying to pause your life for this elevated paper signing, are beyond me.  

I think a lot of us were brought up among princesses and romcoms that told us that happily ever after meant one thing – finding the right partner and that stuck.

But girl, your happily ever after is now, it’s happening all around you, growing in your beautiful wake.

Personally, I know that my self worth is not, and will never be defined by anyone but me. I won’t be defined by societal norms because that isn’t fair, and that isn’t what anyone should rely on. I know that for my self-worth, it’s important to celebrate the little pieces of myself. 

But girl, your happily ever after is now, it’s happening all around you, growing in your beautiful wake.

Somehow, through some twisted perception, marriage is seen as a triumph. It’s like you slowly tick those boxes – school, college, first job, marriage. I understand that my body has a clock – and I understand that some people believe in grounding their life through traditionalism. So that shiny badge of marriage that you so cling to – if it works for you – if that’s what your life is really geared towards, go for it.

But if it’s something else you want out of life, value that. 

So every time I get published, be it something small that I’ve worked on, or a longer piece of writing, I celebrate it. When I do something good for myself, I celebrate it. When I travel, I celebrate it.

It’s about understanding what’s important for you – what works for you that’s really the biggest achievement in life.

We all need a LOT of self-love in our lives. So take every single flawed and beautiful part of you, take it, hold it close, and remind yourself that you are a fucking queen and your happiness lies in all those pieces.

Don’t let your singledom be defined by a societal meter.

  • Maheen Humayun

    Maheen Humayun is a writer, poet and educator based in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. In addition to working as the Senior Editor for Love, she teaches literature in the day, and writes her own at night. Maheen has written for The Express Tribune and Dawn as well and her novella, "Special," was published in 2012. When she isn't writing for The Tempest, you can find her drinking copious amounts of black coffee, working on crushing the patriarchy, learning digital art, and doing spoken word poetry.