May 18, 2024

I can still vividly remember how my mama would constantly remind me, “Huwag ka munang mag-boyfriend, bata ka pa.” And now, she would tell me, “Mag-boyfriend ka na, matanda ka na.”
As they say, time will fly by before you know it. When I was younger, I planned to get married at the age of 24 and be a mother at 25. Hopeless romantic, right? But who would have thought at 23, I’d be single and still mothering on my dream to become a lawyer?
It is typical to experience pressure to live up to social expectations in a society that frequently places a lot of importance on romantic relationships, marriage, and establishing a family. Particularly in my generation, the Gen Z, where people around my age are already getting engaged or married and having kids. Sometimes, I wonder if I am already late for the marital trend. While I feel genuinely happy whenever someone I know announces their marriage or pregnancy, I can’t help but reflect if it is weird that at the age of 23, I am going on dates with myself or friends instead of a boyfriend. At this age, is it normal that I hardly see myself getting into relationships, let alone marriage? Would it be problematic to say I don’t want to have kids today or ever?
The thing is, whenever I stumble upon these questions, it’s not me that is talking, rather the burden of pressure. I know I speak for everyone when I say in a Filipino setting, especially in family gatherings, the single ones would often get teased, “Tatanda kang dalaga/binata niyan,” or would get asked personal questions like “Kailan ka mag papakasal?” or “Kailan mo balak magkaanak?”
For many years, generations have constantly followed a predetermined calendar for marriage, dictating a particular age at which everyone expects you to be hitched or become a parent. So when you are either of the two, people would simply think that being single, unmarried and childless results from unfavorable circumstances in a culture where the age of marriage is traditional.
Truth be told, many people intentionally decide to live solitary lives. Being in a relationship or getting married is a respectable choice people make. So is drifting from the traditional path society expects you to cruise at your age. Staying single is also a rewarding choice. Some can change their last names at 25, and others can add different titles or degrees to their first names at the same age. While others venture into motherhood at 30, some still embrace singlehood at the same age.
Age is a common denominator; we have different paths, priorities, and paces we consciously endeavor. In my case, by the time I finish law, I will be 27, and I still want to pursue medicine after. Who’s to say I can’t alter my ambitions that resonate with my personal growth? Societal norms would say otherwise, but marriage is the last thing on my mind.
The age of marriage is a social construct that does not necessarily align with everyone’s ambitions and goals. So, I would always tell myself, “At your own pace, at your own time.”
I cannot emphasize enough that the only ideal age to get married is when you are ready. Ready emotionally, mentally, and financially, not because a cultural norm dictates that you should be in one. Only hop on to marriage, or even relationships, on your own terms.
Don’t get me wrong, being married to the love of your life is one of the best feelings ever and I would like to feel that someday. But at this age, I’m challenging the tradition – I’m choosing to embrace independence and opportunities that singlehood affords. There’s nothing wrong with getting married, much less staying single at an age where people say you shouldn’t be.
It’s critical to question and challenge conventional norms, such as the social construct on the age of marriage. Recognize that we shape contentment and happiness in light of our ideals and goals. As much as the pressure of societal expectations may get us from time to time, acknowledge that it is an empowering choice to remain single. Keep in mind that there are other ways to have a meaningful and full life besides getting married and having kids.
Let your choices and dreams design a life that fits your goals, whether developing meaningful relationships, concurring the world of marriage and parenthood, or expanding personal horizon and achieving professional success.