Considered ‘Overqualified, Overweight, Too Independent, Too Forward’ For The Marriage Market!

I saw very early in career that I was often the only woman in a room full of men. Therefore, I learnt to speak my mind loud and clear and push back bullies.

It was that day again – when rom-coms want you to be with the One or retailers want you to spend on grand gestures. But what about us – status single, the fastest growing demography of India?

I am sure none of us singletons aspired to be one. Everything around us – from bedtime stories to parents wedding albums – made us believe in the natural progression of life –get married, have kids, and live happily ever after.

Even with my mother, a modern working woman, we discussed – that I could marry anyone I liked – and would take care of my mother even after marriage, but we never discussed possibility of me being single. That was a journey I made all on myself.

Still single because?

At 28, I had just completed my education – no, not by failing and repeating years in college but after 2 post-graduate degrees and failed attempts at civil services. I was struggling to get my first job at the peak of recession in 2003 and coming to terms with loss of my mother. I travelled the length and breadth of the country with my job – in part to run away from the city which seemed to have taken away every person I loved – my parents and maternal grandparents – but also because I had no home now; my Mother’s home was now my brother and sister-in-law’s home.

It was around the age of 30-31 when I settled in my job that I started thinking about relationships and marriage. But I just happened to be a perfect combination of all the imperfect things in the Indian marriage market.

  • I had already missed the proverbial bus full of eligible men due to my age. Now the bus I was standing in front of had divorcees, widowers, or those I did not feel interested in.
  • I was “overqualified” with 2 post-graduate degrees and “too intelligent” – having topped right from school. So, I would not be able to adjust and would try to dominate.
  • I was overweight – so even if all my other drawbacks could be accommodated by the last bus of marriageable men – this one was too much in the face for them.
  • I was an orphan so who would talk to prospective grooms – of course me, and 20 years earlier that was sacrilegious. So, I was too advanced, forward, bold and with a good job in one of the largest banks of country – too independent.

I even went under the knife for liposuction to get rid of my excess weight. But it was never good enough. I even paid an elite matrimonial agency for searching for matches but, I have never felt so humiliated and questioned all my achievements in life as I did in the short 3 years that I was trying to settle.

Even my male colleagues whom I had a crush on friend zoned me in an era when the word was not even invented. So, to summarize – my crushes crushed me, and the otherwise suitable matches could not compromise with my few extra kilos but expected me to climb Mt. Everest of compromise.

So, at 35 – I took a stock of the situation as I was not ready to go on in this limbo indefinitely.

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I was done with feeling like crap

Right since my Father’s death – I was the proverbial Son of the house. I was my Mother’s strength, took care of taxation and financial matters. My mother leaned on my advice for major decisions like closing of our loss making factories, selling our house, buying new properties. Therefore, I was always the one in charge and I hated the idea of being a second fiddle to anyone simply because I wore a saree not a pant.

Being in charge went into the realm of emotions too – for whatever short period I was experimenting with the idea of marriage, I hated the clingy behaviour that relations bring with it – the wait for a phone call, the expectation to be liked, loved. I was never an approval seeking person. In this short period, I realized how the locus of control of my happiness had moved from myself to other random strangers. I hated that loss of control.

My mother’s words helped me make the decision

Her advice guided me throughout my life. She always told me that I should never marry anyone who is not my equal. And I now realize why. I was always very intelligent and mature beyond my years due to my circumstances. My Father died when I was 12 and overnight I became an adult. What my Mother figured out was that my marriage with a person with lesser intelligence would be a total disaster. At age 47 today – I couldn’t agree more. Mental wavelength matters.

My Mother often told me that she was not worried about me – she knew I could take care of myself. She told me that I was beautiful. I would tell her to look at me from world’s eyes and then tell how I was looking. She’d say she could not look at me any other way.

My relationship with my Mother was very strong – she was my entire world. I realized that my definition of love was the one my Mother had for me – unconditional, uplifting and the one which made me Rise in Love, not fall in Love. I could not settle for any lesser love. and no one can ever match my Mother’s love. My Mother in her short time with me had given me enough love to last a lifetime. We all talk of Love of life but who says that love of life must be a romantic relationship. The Love of my life is My Mother and I would not have it any other way.

By the time I took the decision to stay single – the marriages of people around me had started showing their true colors – love went out of window, intelligent women giving up their careers to be chaperones of their husbands, friends who used to discuss international politics and management theories now cribbing about In-laws, child rearing woes. I realized that marriage even if you get a spouse of your choice, with whom you were in love, is a lot of hard work and child rearing is altogether different ball game. And it was clear to me – that was not the path I wanted to take.

The aftermath of taking the decision to be single

Making the decision is the easier bit, living with it is the harder part. I know most women struggle with this bit. However, for me things in my life started making sense – all the things which seemed like disadvantages suddenly started falling in place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

My being family free: Since I had no family, there was no one to emotionally blackmail me into marriage which I have seen many of my friends succumbing to. As for relatives – with my Father’s death and our financial troubles after that – most had left. With My Mother’s death – I was done with them for good. So, they had no power over me. The ones who remained in my life did not offer any comments or advice or perhaps I suffered from temporary hearing loss.

The social engagements: That is where the larger family asks you questions like – “So, when are you settling down”: “Oh but who will take care of you in your old age?” I was never in my hometown even when in India and soon I was not even in India. So, I don’t remember which was the last social engagement I attended. Good riddance.

Do I feel lonely? Hell No! I happen to be emotionally self-sufficient. I rather like my life being drama free. My weekdays are occupied with work, reading, yoga, cooking for survival. Weekends go in cleaning, grocery, binge watching series, documentaries, financial management. I absolutely love doing nothing on weekends – my dream is to retire, lie on green grass and just keep gazing at blue sky all day.. Not to mention I have awesome friends across globe and time zones with whom I have long interesting conversations on weekends on varied topics from science and technology to feminism, politics, economics, work situations.

How do you manage things? My having done every conceivable thing in life on my own from buying house, fighting court cases to finding apartment, moving, fixing furniture, electronics, taking care of myself during sickness – has made self-reliance my second nature. So for everything that I need – there is Myself, an app or Google.

Don’t men bully you? I have always had one theory in life – if you are not afraid of anything – people are afraid of you. I saw very early in career that I was often the only woman in a room full of men. Therefore, I learnt to speak my mind loud and clear and push back bullies. If you don’t say No the first time, then they keep on pushing the limits. Therefore, I developed the reflex action of saying No. That was a good practice as I realized this is one of the hardest things for Indians and more so for women.

If the choice was between being feared or respected – as a single woman, we have to often choose the first one. The good thing is that you do the hard work initially, then your reputation precedes you. So, I don’t shy away from a good fight If you mess with me, God bless your soul because your body will most definitely end up on floor.

I have called out any racist, sexist behavior. If you don’t stand up for yourself, why would anyone else?

There are consequences but I define my priorities and non-negotiables

Yes, I did miss out on promotions and top ratings even when clients appreciated my work But honestly, that has got more to do with my not finding any value in taking higher workload and headache for the same salary. I prioritized money over position because my salary check is what I bring home, position stays in office. Also, my working on my own terms was always a non-negotiable for me. Being treated as an equal irrespective of position based purely on what you are bringing to the table is my career philosophy.

So, in the end the question comes – how I will spend my Valentines Day. Well just like any other day. The only change – may be watch a rom com on Netflix/ Prime. But more importantly, on the weekend after Valentine – shop all those Valentine’s goodies at huge discounts…

Editor’s Note: It’s the season of love, and especially romantic love. But what if you are not in a romantic relationship right now? We asked our readers to send in their #HappySolentine stories.

Image source: gregory_lee from Getty Images Free for Canva

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About the Author

Prerna Nanda

My career in IT gave me the perk of travelling the world and opening my mind to endless perspectives, giving me an opportunity to grow as a human being. I like sharing those experiences with read more...

12 Posts | 45,798 Views

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