Happy Alone!?!

I spoke to my best friend in school after over 2 decades!!
Graduation, post graduation, jobs, different cities ensured that we lost touch completely.
A chance mention about her in a conversation, a few months ago, made my father hunt for her number through his network of friends. Yes, our fathers worked in the same organization and we stayed in the same colony too!

Early this week, when I was in Bangalore, a push from my father made me call her. We spoke for more than 30 minutes and talked all about family and common friends and general life in the last 2 decades.

At one point of time, we had a conversation which reads like this…
She: When did you get married?
Me: In 1997.
She : Oh, so you have been married for 15 years.
Me. Yes and what about you?
She : I never married!

And since then “Oh, so you have been married for 15 years…. I never married!” is repeatedly buzzing in my head!

That’s because I sense a lot of things behind these few words.

Many people consciously decide to stay single and are happy with their choice of decision. They like their freedom and are content with their lifestyle. This post is not about them.

This post is about people for whom being single is not their personal choice. It’s what life has thrown their way. They would like to get married, but destiny has some other plans.

I am not saying that marriage is something that would ‘complete’ you or that it is mandatory for ‘that’ social acceptance and security. Or that you can be in a happy and healthy existence only if you are married. If that had been the case, all marriages would be successful and would never fail or become loveless or living hell for some.

Even though one may be at peace with this situation of being single or love living on their own, or like their solitude but do they experience those times when all logic, all rationale eludes them?
Does it happen that all those things that sustains them daily or keeps them going, does not make any sense sometimes?
Do they experience hurt and sadness at times or the anger and frustration on seeing ‘happily  married’ people around?
How tough it would be to answer, “When are you getting married?”
Or how do they cope with suggestions from family and ‘friends’ to marry any TDH (or Sally Jane or Suzie for the guys)?
Do they get thoughts of “I am not good enough?”
Do the feelings of jealousy and depression creep in some times??

I believe, it’s so very normal to feel and experience all of these.

Just today, my regular maid who is leaving for a month long trip to her village, came with her replacement. This temporary maid has worked with me for few months some time back too. So, she asked about Aaryan. I told her that he is studying in a boarding school, Her one statement, “Arre, aap to usko itne pyaar aur achche se rakhte the!” (Oh, you used to take such good care of him and loved him!) has disturbed me to no end. And this is despite that it was our conscious decision!

So, while I feel sad for my friend, I wish…she-flies-with-her-own-wings
…We understand that there will always be people who have better things than us or those who achieve faster in life… 
…We learn to be happy and to be at peace with ourselves…
…We remember that it is not circumstances that make us happy or unhappy, but our attitude towards them.

I know, it’s easier said than done, but then nothing is impossible!
Who knows, what life will give you at the very next turn!

Picture from Google Images

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52 thoughts on “Happy Alone!?!

  1. I think situations and experiences make people descide what they do and these days staying alone is very common.. maynot be in india yet but here in uk its very common, people want to live together for a year or so , see how it goes and then take the plunge ..

    and you are right , that why they say the grass is greener on the other side always .. but when we have to actually live their life we will find the difference 🙂

    Bikram’s

    • This change is visible around, not so commonly but yes, there are people who consciously decide to stay alone due to whatever reasons.
      And yes, taking time to decide to tie the knot is prevalent too!
      Hmmm… well’s that’s the vagaries of human nature… never happy with what we have! 🙂

  2. // it is not circumstances that make us happy or unhappy, but our attitude towards them //

    Well said.

    Decade back I was shocked by a similar incident.My friend’s mother’s sister was staying in my friend’s house. She was not married and When I saw her she was in her late forties. Again it was not her decision but destiny was like that. I had the same feelings as to how ‘how she’ll feel when she sees others getting married and having their own families ?”

    But as you said who knows what life will give you at the next turn.

    Cheers

  3. Acceptance that this what we are destined for will make life easier – but how do we reach a conclusion tht this is what am destined for! Like in ur friends case, by the time she must hv accpetd tht her destiny is to remain single, her heart woulfd v broken innumerable times!

    • Agree acceptance of the situations/circumstances will make life more easier but then we also have this eternal Hope… and as you rightly said, in the process of hopes getting dashed over the years, the heart would have suffered a lot! 😐

  4. Shilpa – I got married at 41 and my husband was 51 – first marriage for both of us – so there’s always hope! 😉 But like I always said when I was single, I’d rather be ‘settled’ and single then unsettled and married. So I had an active work and social life which I enjoyed. Now, I’m happy to be married too. Like you said, we have to learn to be happy in all situations in life.

    • Wow! That’s so amazing, Corinne! Glad that you met your soul-mate. 🙂
      A wonderful thing you practiced… true happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future! 🙂

  5. being single can sometimes be unsettling..more so because people keep asking you, the same questions again and again…my friend was widowed just 2 years into her marriage,and though she did not want to get married again, she did so just to stop her family, from pressurizing her and to keep unwanted attention from male colleagues..to marry for reasons other than love can be totally frustrating later on..

    • Aah! Our society can be too cruel at times!! And certainly, it’s tough to maintain your sanity with constant remarks, questions, pressure from those around you. Unwanted male attention is another hazard of being single! 🙁

  6. Initially it might have bothered her, if she was not by choice single, but as time passed by and she must have not come across anybody worth marrying, and must have come to logical conclusion that it is better to be free than settling down with someone, giving in to lots of compromises.
    As you said all marriages don’t turn out to be happy, and surely she must have come across some people who are married rather unhappily, so she must be actually happy stating “I never married!”
    Actually being single is much preferable these days than to be married with lots of responsibilities, and adjustments, it can be a conscious choice these days, and nobody will question her on that issue.
    I know many people who have deliberately not chosen to have a child too after marriage, for they have other priorities in their life which needs their attention. Of course, here too some people may bug them, but their answer is straight forward, so naturally people stop bugging them after they hear them speak.
    These days everything is fine, and people too are fine with their situations.
    However, it is good to read such thought provoking articles.
    So you were in Bangalore, you could have informed me, and we could have met, never mind next time you come do make time for it.

    • Hi Rama. I couldn’t ask her the reasons and nor did she share… so really don’t know anything about it.
      If you are clear about your priorities and expectations, life’s easier and happy. Like the DINKs or NKs… they are clear that they dont want kids… so sooner or later people accept/respect their views/beliefs.
      The same goes for people who wanna stay single… but this is about people who are single but want to change that!

      Next time… definitely yes!! 🙂

  7. Shilpa,

    It is one’s own prerogative to marry or not but it is sure that a time comes when one misses companionship. I agree that it is better to be single & happy than married & disturbed. What you said in the closing paragraph is what one should surely look for.

    Take care

  8. Hi Shilpa, a very touchy post. When we are single, we think getting in relationship and married is the best thing that can happen in life. It isn’t true always.

    Your maid’s words would have hurt me too if I were in that situation, often people don’t understand the reasons behind those choices and those words could be so painful. Hugs to you!!

    • Hi LittleFingers! Very true… this “the grass is always greener” syndrome makes us think that someone else is having a better time elsewhere. We make ourselves miserable by constantly thinking about the unknown in an endless quest to find happiness.
      Thanks LF, I am better now. 🙂

  9. Everyone needs a reason, something to hold onto that keeps us moving in life…Some duty, some responsibility…For those who are married, the marriage and kids give them the same…The others who are not find something else…. As you said “it is not circumstances that make us happy or unhappy, but our attitude towards them”

    • Agree Jaish, with what you say… married people have spouses and kids as priorities among other things, while single may have their career, their personal growth, health or friends and family which may keep them going. Read somewhere that when you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way… 🙂

  10. Hi Shilpa, I’m new to the blog-world and I have read a couple of your post.I really like the way you analyze life and put forth balanced and unbiased opinions.As you rightly said the best way is to accept life with all its trials and treasures and move ahead but it is easier said than done.

  11. My opinion- since you were not privy to what made your friend stay single,you may not be able to give a honest opinion. Is it not conventions that determine and dictate that marriage is the sine qua non for happiness and social respectability? There may be many who are happy being single and many as you mentioned living hellish in wedlock.
    It is a personal choice or can be an option forced upon.This may be the case with both marriage and single life.
    As for the comment of the stand-in ,maid, I feel you must not lend any credence to such comments.

    • Yes, it’s our society which makes these rules… while it does not expect us to know how to fly an aircraft or how to perform a surgery, but it does expect us to marry in the right community, have kids, be straight… blah blah blah 😐 It’s time we abandoned these age old mentality and believe in ‘Live and Let Live!”
      Thanks for the encouraging words, I have removed it from my heart and head as well! 🙂

  12. A lot of you may not agree with me on this,but,it is destiny.If one is destined to a particular personal status so be it.Circumstances in our life take such twists and turns that we are brought right in the middle of the cross roads—which is destiny.
    Personally speaking,I cant imagine one not wanting to get married.

    • I agree with you, Mr. Chowla… I believe destiny does exist as far as marriage is concerned!!
      As for somebody not wanting to get married… well, there can be a lot of reasons… commitment phobia, enjoy the freedom and solitude, don’t want to change/compromise… and many more reasons which could be unique to an individual! 🙂

  13. I have known women who wanted to get married but the parents did not let them go because if the girl was married, the main source of income is lost and I have also seen women who remain single just because the love of their life is no more or is married. I don’t know what to say. But happiness is something that is not the outcome of something. It is a state of mind. And having someone to witness the passage of life along with us is always wonderful.

    Quite an interesting topic to be thinking about.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    • Aah! These are so sad reasons to stay single! 🙁
      Well said, happiness is to be found along the way not at the end of the road! And during this if you have a companion it’s makes the journey a pleasant one!
      Thanks 🙂

  14. Being single or married totally depends on one’s own perception..At 21, I see myself married after 5-6 years but there are many among me who want to wait till 30 or 35…While most of us feel that getting married brings stability in life, there are many who might not think the same. My Uncle never married, he is 52 presently and I have never seen a man as happy as him…

    Interesting post..Stumbled on your blog after finding your comment on my post…Have been going through your blog and loving it :)Following you

  15. Your last paragraph sums it all. Beautiful lines those and i myself abide by those rules and tell people around that happiness is definitely a state of mind. Beautiful synthesis to your post, shilpa.

  16. no one makes a conscious decision to remain single – atleast not after their twenties..it just happens…but whatever their reasons they must be respected is what i fell..whatever we advice/tell them- they must have heard it all a thousand times before…so lets give more love/less gyan- my mantra..

    • “No one makes a conscious decision to remain single”…I am afraid, there are people who plan to stay alone due to reasons best known to them!
      That’s a wonderful matra you have believe in! Appreciate it! 🙂

  17. Did you suddenly feel old after hearing the question Shilpa? 😛 Jokes apart; I think its the convention that one needs to get into wedlock within that stipulated time. Singles dont have it easy either; with society and folks belonging to them speaking about the single status.

    If your friend is happy; so be it. Who says one needs to be married to feel complete?

  18. As a young woman of 24, I don’t think marriage is the key to success. If it was so, like you said, all married couple would be in a state of ‘blissfully happily married’ – which sadly is far from the truth. I believe if single people are genuinely happy with their life, questions on their single status would only be irritating and never depressing. I see a lot of profound thoughts in this post. Nice read. 🙂

    • Yes, companionship is needed after a while. My sister’s friend who is unmarried too, is always on the phone once she is back home after work and has a huge network of friends. Her thought is, “How do I spend my time all alone… how long can one read, watch TV or just laze around?” So, she is forever talking to friends far and wide for that human connect which is so vital!

  19. The first part reminds me of the school friend that I “rediscovered” and met him after 43 years at Koramagal (Bangalore) and we sat and talked for 5 hrs at a stretch at his residence last month. (I may write a blog post on this)
    The second part reminds me of a young girl who is sticking on to her marriage “just for her daughter” She is battered in every way (except physical)
    We all feel that she would be better off alone but she says “she has to stick on”

    • Look forward to your story of meeting your friend!! 43 yrs is a huge time gap! 🙂
      Yes, for some, sticking around is the only and bestest option despite all the pain and trauma! 😐

  20. I feel that no matter how much we crib about marriage, at the end of the day, I am happy that I got married and had kids when I did. I guess I was brought up in a way where it was normal to be married and have kids. I would be too anxious in a live-in relationship if I had a choice :). And, I love having a companion that I fight with and who I know will be there to hold my hand when I need it. I think relationships are beautiful, and we are social beings who need to have company. Lovely post. Looks like I missed it when on vacation :).

  21. When male relatives ask me ‘Why are you not married?’, I tell them straight in their face that only idiots marry. I expect them to fight or yell at me, but strangely they resign into silent contemplation!!

    When women relatives ask me the same question, I tell them, ‘I want to have a peaceful life’. They smile and go away. No more questions!!

    Hmmmmm….. 😀

    Destination Infinity

  22. Your observations about your friend and consequent remarks are absolutely correct Marriage or no marriage, is entirely the decision of an individual. If a boy or a girl is forced to marry against thier wishes, no one will ever be happy. You have a very liberal view on the subject, which I really appreciate.

  23. I have a few fiends who are still married and an Aunt who chose not to get married cause she was happy with her career.

    I guess it is all about our attitude to look at things. I too have been angry and disappointed about some things in my life that did not happen. I am learning to make peace with it.

    I believe people who have taken a decision about not marrying have already made peace with themselves. Whereas for people who wanted marriage but have not found the right partner yet, it becomes quite difficult.

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