Okay, Christmas is over. Take the Santa cap off, put that wine glass aside and listen to me. I need your help in advising Niraj Seth, who messaged me on facebook, asking me how to deal with the pressure that young people face, from parents and society, to get married. Since my husband is likely to be travelling on the day this column gets published, let me tell you that all those who insist that you should get married in the first place, are not wishing well for you, they are actually wishing ‘the well’ for you, since they’ve fallen in one themselves. Fine, that was a poor joke. I’m entitled to one, it’s the morning after Christmas.
But, I think this thing about someone else deciding when is the right time for you to take key decisions in life, is so, so silly. I know many who are stressed because they are told, repeatedly, that it’s the right time to get engaged, get married, make babies. For heaven’s sake, I thought we’ve crossed the era when societal pressure made life hell, but clearly not.
A five minute chat with my ‘young and progressive’ team jolted me to the reality that even today, the pressure to get ‘settled’ begins when your age starts with 2, gets worse when it starts with 3 and downright nasty when it starts with 4. It’s another thing that by the time your age begins with 5, the well-wishers are too busy collecting their boarding passes to heaven and have given up on you.
I can see many gearing up to curse me now because the standard argument is that elders put pressure only because they want the best for your life. All in good faith, as they say. I totally buy that thought. The only problem is, their good faith can’t magically turn up a good life-partner for you. You’ll have to kiss the frogs to figure out your prince. And that may take time. Or you may not even want to get married ever, which also, believe me, is not such a big deal. So this pressure is just needless stress.
Making the most important decisions of your life in a hurry, under duress of someone’s constant nagging, could turn out to be a big regret in life. Please remember that the person you’ll marry will have the face you’ll see first thing in the morning for the rest of your life. Well, exceptions, like Chaddha ji who wears a pirate-like eye patch while sleeping to avoid starting his day with Mrs Chaddha’s face, don’t count of course. What if the Mr of Ms Right you choose under pressure, just because your friends have started to get married, turns out to be a Mr or Ms you-can’t-stand’ ?
The decision on when to start a family is equally important and of course, irreversible. You should never be taking it because someone else tells you it’s time. Yes, there are issues about the ticking body clock etc but I am assuming you are responsible enough to be factoring those while charting a course for life.
So here are three tips for me if someone else is giving you grief over how you should be living ‘your’ life.
Know the difference between real well wishes and those who have nothing else to say when they meet you, so they end up asking you when you’re tying the knot or falling pregnant. A lot of people don’t realise that their innocent question is invading someone’s privacy. Ignore them, don’t hold it against them.
Don’t be impolite but be firm about your retort to someone who constantly nags you. Say, ‘I appreciate your concern for my life. But I would like to wait till I feel it’s the right time. Constant reminders on the same topic would not alter my decision, but would only affect my relationship with you, which I do not want.’ This should tell them to back off. Don’t feel guilty for saying it. At the end of it, it’s your and just your life. No one else’s.
In situations when you can’t answer back out of respect, don’t let the pressure get to you. Just smile and say ‘May be God told you that it’s the right time but he hasn’t told me yet. When he does, I’ll let you know.”
The matters of life are too important and complicated to be put on a timetable. Don't let anyone turn you into one. Stand your ground.
Sonal Kalra is glad she could advise someone in need. Now it’s time to do a year-end article on when Aishwarya Rai will get pregnant. Will someone please tell her it’s time?