Single Ladies and Challenges of Vulnerability ~ By Michael West
The waiting period of single adults for marriage, especially women, is not funny at all. It is a season of anxiety and desperation for many of them. The irony of life is that while those who are yet to marry pray, fast and do ‘packaging’ to attract suitors, some of those in turbulent or unfulfilled marriages are willing to quit. Today, BECKY OLORUNPOMI, a certified marriage counsellor, an author, speaker and convener of the annual Singles’ Summit in Lagos, writes on the anxious period of waiting which makes waiting women vulnerable. She enriches this contribution with experiences as a means to identify with her folk current in the situation and also offers suggestions on how to overcome vulnerability. A graduate of English/Literary Studies and Mass Communication from Kogi State University and University of Lagos, respectively, Becky, by this instructive article, indeed, is worth reading.
Having your plans develop into the preferred picture of expectation is accompanied by deep feelings of exhilaration, nothing else makes life so beautiful than having it smooth with plans blossoming at the appropriate time. How fun it is to go to school when the desire is ripe, graduate with your peers, get a lucrative job offer at the first interview, marry and start a family at the exact period of readiness. But like the roller-coaster with wild and unpredictable turns, life shows its hands and the well laid chronology gets frustrated with plots and plans going nowhere else but down south.
The waiting period especially as it concerns marriage, is not easy. It is usually a rough, long and unpredictable journey, in particular, for Singles in their late 30s, 40s and 50s. The pressure is so high that if care is not taken, they could make some costly mistakes. For adults desirous of meaningful relationships, vulnerability is a common denominator. Sustained pressures sometimes come unconsciously from many quarters: the society, family, peers and busybodies. The intimidation could be quite inundating with no modicum of solace. For many, quality of life drops, living on the brink of depression becomes the order of the day.
Quite a number of matured Singles have faltered based on their vulnerability and become victims of abusive relationships. As a single lady who just finished her mandatory National Youth Service, I was expected to bring a suitor home. My parents tried hard to conceal their agitation but their supposed calculated efforts only amplified my vulnerability. I could not help but noticed that all my actions and interactions were viewed from the prism of a singular consideration which was to know my readiness to take up the wifely role. My calls were discreetly monitored to check how polite I would be. I was on the phone one particular day with a male friend and we were throwing banters as buddies, after the call, my dad told me, “My dear, you don’t talk to a man like that and expect to get married.”
That was the beginning of a long series with twisting episodes. Whenever there was a misunderstanding between my male siblings and I, the bulk of the blame is dropped on my table with a harsh reminder that my peers are in their matrimonial homes. I became very cautious, sensitive and confused. I wanted to prove to all that I am a “wife material.” I ended up been choked by my emotions.
A single man or lady that is yet to be in a relationship is vulnerable to quite a number of emotional and social attacks or abuses. Vulnerability sometimes pushes many into psychological imbalance thereby losing their self-esteem, poor sense of judgment, crushed personality as well as trying to please everyone by going into any available relationship even when the red flag is waving at them. In a society where marital status is considered everybody’s business, the vulnerability factor is a tipping point for the singles.
A woman explained how she had done everything she knew and followed all the rules in the books, but the expected marital relationship was not forth coming. According to her, she had read books, attended marriage seminars and conferences, fasted and prayed, and even sowed several seeds. On the brink of desperation, she reduced her values and standard. Her vulnerability made her conform to the expectations of those around her. The outcome of life defining decisions taken in her moment of vulnerability shattered her self-esteem with dire consequences. So challenging is the vulnerability factor that it affects the mental health and emotional complexities of singles. Other accompanying effects of taking a ride on the vulnerability lane are loss of confidence, becoming validation freaks, fearful, indecision, pride and rigidity or stubbornness. All these further compound their woes and affect their relationships with the opposite sex.
A recent study by a Wake Forest University sociology professor, Robin Simon, shows that men are also vulnerable to the emotional roller coaster of relationships even though they try hard to conceal their fear behind the veil of macho ego. Vulnerability can’t be eradicated but it can be managed. You need to first understand yourself. The reasons for your single status may or may not be connected to your attitude or personality. Please note that people around you would always have something to talk about; ignore the side talks and build your self-esteem and control over your emotions. This will help you manage pressures that come with singlehood. You also need to love yourself. Self-love is a state of accepting yourself after you have reconciled with things about you that is beyond your power to change. It also means accepting your emotions for what they are and putting your physical, emotional and mental well-being first. It is normal for your emotions to fluctuate when your desires are not met and experience makes you vulnerable. That’s what makes you human. Refuse to be neither a pushover nor a puppet dancing to the tune of other people’s rhythm of opinions.
You need to know that you can’t please everyone. Just make sure you are pleasing God, working on yourself and developing your spiritual stamina. At any point or juncture you are, love yourself because that is not your full stop, it’s just a comma; you are on your way to a destination. It is not an end but a bend, you are destined for a glorious destination, so don’t die emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually and even physically because of a stopover. Keep moving and while doing that, love yourself. If you look well, you’ll discover that your current position is someone else’s prayer point. So don’t kill yourself because of the drama you’re seeing at the moment, keep moving. Like one of my mentors would say, “Na person wey dey alive dey marry” (it is only the living that can marry).
A lady once lamented to me on how she had done everything she knew and what she was told to do by her pastor, and people she respected so as to get married but it wasn’t happening. I then told her to be calm, relax, achieve more and have fun. It sounded foolish but God helped me to talk to her and she yielded. She called me a year later that she’d be getting married. Sometimes, distractions can come when we focus too much on the drama.
Being alone for too long can increase the vulnerability challenge. The way you handle it will determine the outcome; whether slipping into depression and turning to an emotional wreck or becoming better till you finally find that special person. Always remember, singlehood is not a disease but a phase in life that will come with some dramas and you can enjoy it while it lasts.
“Being alone for too long can increase the vulnerability challenge. The way you handle it will determine the outcome.”
• West wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org 08059964446