I’ve decided to keep my identity under wraps for now, as I don’t want y’all looking at me strangely, in case you recognize my name. See, when I decided to bare my heart open today, it was with a condition – that Wanjiru wouldn’t publish my name.
That aside, I feel like reading this blog regularly gives me hope, yet at the same time reminds me that marriage is a far away dream that I’m never going to achieve.
There’s nothing as lonely as being a 38 year old woman in Nairobi, independent, solid in your career and somewhat in the same with your life goals; yet not being able to share the joys and sorrows of your life with a partner every day.
So picture it: at my age, I’m thankfully blessed: I have a great family of siblings and lifetime friends, I have a secure job, and quite happy at it (except for those ‘urgent’ deadlines that happen when the client remembers they haven’t achieved their targets), and a pet to boot. I have no children – which translates to no baggage to most men. I’ve managed to keep a great reputation professionally and socially, thanks to my allergy to drama in my life. I can pay my bills (isn’t that the kind of woman most men want?), I don’t have terrible habits (don’t men hate women who smoke), I am somewhat religious (not too churchy, but with a sense of a higher being in my life) and I am kind of level-headed. And I’m easy on the eyes too, albeit on the chubby side of life. I do have my faults – I’m terrible with money management, I possibly don’t want to have children (that’s a fault to many), and I may have a temper.
But when it comes to love, I must be the unluckiest woman there is. My previous relationships are a mix of good and bad choices, but with lessons on life along the way – a long but undefined relationship, a bad boy who was just irresistible, an ex who cheated and got the boot, and a good guy but who just wasn’t right for me. And in my younger days, a couple of one night stands that made me realize that those are nothing but a waste of time and my morals.
The problem comes down to my age. There seems to be a dearth of single men over 35, who are ready to settle with someone their age. They’re either looking for youngins – 25 – 30 year olds, or are prepared to stay single for the rest of their life. And the ones younger than I am get shocked when I truthfully declare my age. Of course, they’ll exclaim ‘but you look 28!’ flattering my ego, but the potential relationship dwindles off quite fast as they don’t want to be with an older woman.
When you get to the age of 30, it seems like you’re off the shelf for good. Men want the younger, and if I may say more naïve version, but are unwilling to deal with a woman who can hold her own in the boardroom or in a relationship, and who knows what she wants. I’ve had it told to my face that I’m quite scary sometimes – just because I can be outspoken and clear on what I’m saying at that moment. Shoot me – I can’t change who I am. But I tend to think the scary part is that most men don’t want to deal with a woman who is smart enough to know what’s good for her. On top of that, you have to deal with relatives and friends who want to know what’s ‘wrong’ with you that you can’t keep a man (never mind that he’s not good for you). They want a marriage, and they want kids, like it’s their right on how your life moves on.
So sometimes when I read this blog, I can’t help but think that marriage for a 35-and above woman in Nairobi is an unattainable dream. Most of them have to compromise and agree to relationships that just aren’t enough to meet our standards: dumb down our brilliance, forgo our independence (financially, mentally, socially), and accept men who are just not what we want, for the sake of having a ring on that finger.
I’d rather be 50 and single than married to the wrong person, and have to deal with the snide comments and questions about my sexual orientation, or that I can’t keep a man, or that I must be barren. It’s a tough road to travel alone on, but it’s the better choice, for me.
But it’s an incredibly lonely place to be.
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.