Being a twenty-something (and sometimes younger) Arab girl means that you are eligible to be considered for marriage. When suitors first started coming along in my early twenties, I was not interested in the idea of marriage like some of my friends were. I figured that if it worked out with a guy, then it did, and if it didn’t, I still had my own thing going for me. I was more focused on getting accepted to grad school and forming the career that I had dreamed about since I was a teenager. I started grad school at 22 and now as I am nearing the end of my graduate school career, at 26, I have come to realize that I have been deemed as “old” among many Arabs in my community. Though I am very age conscious, I do not think of myself as old. I am mature and more in tune with what I want in life and how I want to live my life.
Unfortunately, there is a lot that comes with being an Arab girl who has surpassed the age of 25. The first and most aggravating of all is the pity. Though people may mean well, they offer their pity–feelings of compassion due to misfortune. Whether someone verbally expresses their sorrow for my being “old” and unmarried or if they simply give me the look of disdain, I do not want any of it. In my eyes, working hard to educate myself while simultaneously building up my faith so that I may raise my future children to be the best people they can be is much more valuable than getting married at an age that will not fully equip me for the responsibilities of marriage. I am content with who I am and the paths I’ve chosen in my life and I am so blessed to have achieved everything I have, alhamdulilah. Nothing in my life has been a misfortune, so do not pity me, please.
The second thing is that many people assume that because I am “old” I will settle for less. I will not. If that were the case I would have been married already. I actively work to be a humble person and to treat everyone I encounter equally. However, I have learned in the past year that there is a fine line between being humble and settling for less. I never wanted my professional title to be the guiding factor as to who I marry. This is still true. However, I also know that if my future husband does not have certain characteristics–a set of reasonable standards, if you will–then our marriage will be in shambles. This does not compromise my humbleness. Instead, it grants me the ability to respect myself and the other party by understanding what is best for both of us.
This doesn’t mean that I do not want to get married. It just means that I will hold out for the right person, even if that means waiting for years. I realize who I am and how I envision my future to look, so if I am 30 years old and still not married, do not feel sorry for me.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep working on bettering myself, inshAllah.