30 Something and Unmarried

February 11, 2019

The Chriselle Factor

For those of you that don’t know me on a personal level, I am not a quiet person. I am not submissive. I’ve always been curious about why things are the way they are and I haven’t followed expectation norms. I’ve always put my career and happiness at the forefront of my mind. I wanted to get married someday but was never stressed about meeting a certain timeline or finding “the one.” Though I will admit that when I was in my early 20’s, I naively thought by the ripe age of 25 I would: a). have it all figured out, b). work a normal but only mildly stressful job, c). be married and d). no longer be renting. I couldn’t have been more wrong! As I was crying with tears and snot shooting out of my face in a dark room, so many things came to mind, but I soon realized why I was so deeply hurt by my mother’s words. My parents will likely never really understand nor relate to my modern day stresses and struggles. I am first generation American, a child of immigrant parents and care so deeply about so many other things than walking down the aisle. To them, being married is a rite of passage that guarantees lifelong stability whereas my ultimate goal in life is to be well-rounded, successful and happy. In other words, I see stability in a very different way. I am a creative; they don’t really understand what that field of work means. I view marriage as a mutual partnership; they look at it as a fundamental life marker in your 20’s. I’m career oriented; they’re losing sleep that I’m childless and in my 30’s. How could we be so different? I’ve been financially independent and largely self-sufficient since I was 20 years old, and if anything, they should feel at peace that I’m able to consistently pay my own bills, right? No, I’m still their 30-something daughter who’s unmarried. I’ve worked extremely hard my whole life and truly feel at peace with my spirituality, career and my relationship so why did my mom’s incessant questioning about my marital status make me pop off and break TF down? PIN IT Come the end of my trip, my mom came into my room, we put on face masks and we had our very first true heart to heart. I was really thankful she saw my tears and anguish in the moment because perhaps this was the first time she understood how much her words hurt my feelings. She told me the reason she wants me to be married is so that she and my dad can be at peace knowing that I’m OK once they are gone because who knows how much time we have left on Earth (Koreans are really dramatic by the way. Have you ever watched a single Korean drama on TV)? I let her know I understood where she was coming from and was thankful for her expressing her concerns. I told her that yes, marriage is in my future, but that’s not the only thing I want in life and it will be on my own time and terms. I let her know that I don’t believe that a union will be the sole thing that makes me complete, stable or happy. Moral of my story? Sometimes we don’t get to have super understanding parents, but they’re our parents, they love us and they usually have our best intentions in mind. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I stopped trying to change my parents’ perspective on things and I truly accepted who they are. I even embraced it. I realized that they are who they are so why try to change them? As I started to apply this philosophy, my relationship with them got so much better. I stopped arguing with them as much, I let go of my past resentments, and I accepted them for who they are. I tried to put myself in their shoes – imagining what their previous lives in Korea were like and all of the struggles they had before they emigrated here from the war, what it might have felt like trying to assimilate and achieve the American dream without knowing how to speak English – and that really put things into perspective for me. I was able to communicate more clearly with them because I finally understood some of the reasoning for their views and I accepted that. It almost bridged this generational gap for me once I understood that they were sort of stuck in this limbo of not feeling fully immersed here as Americans and feeling like the Korea they knew when the lived there has changed so much since they’ve returned. Perhaps they feel a type of duality as well.