“You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.” ~ The Notebook
I had the idea for the title of my blog, way before I actually put ‘pen to paper’. Being shelved is all I felt, for so long…before the impending age of 30 and after passing the threshold. I knew the shelf is all people saw me perched on. However, I have started to not adhere to the social constraints placed on us by the unrealistic ideals, that everyone is meant to follow. I didn’t want to be in the box any more and every year this feeling has become stronger and stronger. And so when it came to me actually starting to write, I sat with my friends and told them the title I wanted to have, and we had a little brainstorm as there as some feedback that the title was slightly negative. This then prompted me to have a strike-through through shelved because without realising I did not feel like that any more.
My blog addresses the feelings of when I did feel ‘shelved’ and now, how I am working on not being there by making better choices for me. Being more aware of the routines I get myself in, doing the things I would always say I would do but felt so hard to start. I thought I didn’t have any goals for myself and always felt so helpless when trying to think of where I wanted to get in life. But once I started to make one change the next one would become obvious. And then slowly all the things I thought I would find so hard juggling became the norm and I didn’t even think about them any more. They were just done.
I also realised that the world was still my oyster, why would I just wilt away and become no one just because I had not gotten married yet? I deserved to give myself the chance to be something in this world, instead of only being another number in the ‘single’ category on forms. And now in my thirties I have been able to keep forging on, even when there have been countless things which knock me down or I doubt myself. I have tried to remain consistent.
One big thing, which people would assume would knock me right down would be my sister’s wedding. (This is the main reason I haven’t been blogging as regularly because as you all know Indian weddings take over your life). People would assume I may be jealous, angry or upset. Because I hadn’t been the first one to be married, as I am the eldest then obviously I should have been number one. I bet people were watching me at the wedding wondering how I was ‘really feeling’. Well you don’t have to wonder, my face doesn’t work in my favour. Every emotion is as plain as day and all you would have seen in the since the 4th October to 14th October was happiness. Absolute happiness, I felt so elated that she was getting married and as each day past I felt even happier. I was really concerned I wouldn’t be able to get myself to do things because up until these dates I have had to deal with some difficult things and I was starting to became sad again, loosing hope and feeling like I was aimlessly walking around. But this all went away during these 10 days, asides from when I was tired from staying up all hours (thanks fomo) or when the family was driving me crazy (which was expected I suppose) I was constantly smiling.
I had already mentally prepared myself for the countless people who would think it was me that was getting married, because as always in Indian weddings so many 100’s of people are invited and you will get a good percentage of them who won’t really know the bride but are related. There is no relationship but in Indian culture because you come from the same blood line you should be there, not because you are happy for the bride and groom but because it wouldn’t ‘look good’, if you hadn’t been invited by the respective families. And my sister tried so hard to have more people she had a relationship with than those who are there on a pretence (this caused many arguments because this as not the ‘correct way’ and there were many unhappy people. But in the end all that matters is that the main people (bride and groom) are happy and surrounded by people they love). We, as a family would have been seen as causing problems between the families but in reality does it matter when you only see people after 1, 5, 10 years? Or even if we do see certain people and they don’t engage with you and in many cases don’t even say hello. We hadn’t had a wedding in the family for a while, we don’t host family parties and this would be the only time you would see people. And the majority would only come to see any commotion, drink and eat food (which they would make comments on). And pass judgement on anything they thought was not right. So why should we care about these people and the negativity they would bring with them? There will be people reading this thinking that I should be more considerate. When in reality they should see this progressive behaviour as a positive, we shouldn’t have to keep repeating things which in the end don’t make people happy. We shouldn’t hold on to things because it makes up some ‘tradition’ if all the meaningful things are done then why should we be stressed about whether someone’s sister’s, husband’s, fish’s family has not been invited? There are bigger things the bride has to think about than that.
People become so easily offended by things during weddings, I understand the heightened emotion and trust me I was one that also was at times frustrated but in reality nothing would have been intentionally done to make people feel left out or to make a point. We aren’t that type of family, we enjoy making people happy. And we know what it’s like to be left out, but in those situations we don’t make a big deal about it, you suck it up and move on. Knowing situations where it’s done intentionally, we let it be and others where it may have just been an oversight you let it go, because you know the people and that’s not normal behaviour. There should be some acknowledgement that people hosting a wedding are running around like headless chickens sometimes things slip. My sister is extremely organised and did so many small things to show appreciation, she really went over and above to make sure people had an amazing time and were as involved as they could be. But I have found that this is never enough for some. What people don’t realise is that even though we are a family of bickerers and we all have strong personalities and opinions we aren’t afraid of saying things out loud in front of others. Though this is not always the right way to do it, it’s done and over with. We don’t rise to situations in which people are trying to cause a drama, we know what we are like and how we care, so we don’t let these things overtake a happy occasion.
I had also prepared myself to hear ‘So when is it your turn?’ or ‘You’ll be next!’ to which I replied ‘I am not getting married’. You should have seen some of the reactions! Of course you all know I want to get married but I am not going to be pressured to think I should have an answer for them. When/if I do get married I am sure you will know… My sister also assisted with answering these questions by telling some that I would be getting married out of race or to the same gender…..that reaction was even better! People need to realise that I don’t care for their opinion on the choice I make, they are the people that cause us as human beings not to grow.