An Ode to Staying Unmarried Forever

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I am in my late 30s, and I might never get married.

Initially, I wanted to. I terribly did. When I was in my teens, I never pictured myself as an unmarried woman with no children. In my dreams, I had a dashing husband, the cutest of kids, and all the usual, regular mush coated with a sugary sweetness that had the full potential to make anyone diabetic.

Then life happened.

Life happens for everyone of course, but for me, my journey took a complete U-turn from what I expected.

I did not get a dreamy husband.

I was not a dreamy wife.

I did not get any dreamy children.

My fairy tale turned out to be a horror story in disguise.. and I got divorced.

I thought my life was going to end. How is a woman in her late 20s going to live without a husband? It used to hurt a lot initially. The thought that life would be so unfair, blessing others with the good things in life while I was left with nothing but despair, was too much for me to fathom. A desolate soul in search of a deeper meaning in the form of marital status – that was me.

In hindsight, I never enjoyed my marital life – if you take away the husband part of it as well. The regular chores, the responsibilities, made me think, “Is this what I am going to do the rest of my life?” I had no time for hobbies, things that mattered to me, my work, or anything that kept me alive, active, and fulfilled. Marital life is indeed a busy world, and you should not step into it unless you are ready to take on the responsibilities, compromises, and adjustments that come with cohabitation.

I was never ready for it.

Within a few years of my unmarried life, I realized how much I was adjusting and compromising in my married life. When I left the relationship, it was as if a chain was broken, and I finally attained wings to fly. This freedom felt like finally finding water in a desert. My thirst, however, did not get quenched. Instead, I found it ever-increasing. The thirst to enjoy the things I want, the thirst to not be answerable to anyone for the first time in my life, the thirst to just be. It was liberating, it was extraordinary, and it felt like love. I never knew love in the form of freedom. I thought love could only be found in people. It took a break from one kind of love for me to discover another. The type of love that I had never experienced before because all through my life I was told: “marriage is important.”

I never realized a woman could live without getting married. I have seen others living a content life without tying the knot, but I used to look at them with compassion. The thought that marriage is mandatory and the only thing that can make a woman happy was so ingrained and indoctrinated in me that any other way of living was callously dismissed.

Why did it take a divorce for me to find freedom? The answer might be that the people in my vicinity finally stopped pressurizing me to get into something I was not comfortable with i.e., marriage.

Note the usage of the word “unmarried” instead of “single.” A good relationship is like a cherry on the cake. It is a bonus—a plus. But I feel if a relationship is what makes you feel “complete,” then it would mean that you are lacking otherwise. This is far from the truth. We should celebrate individuality as much as coupledom, if not more. In the end, it all boils down to choice. There is never really one single right path. But you should have the complete freedom to choose the path you desire.

My dream is no longer marriage. It feels like I have seen the other side, and now I choose the other side – the path less taken. My dream is now to selfishly enjoy my freedom till the end of life. To those wondering how the path is – it is not easy. It is definitely not easy. You always have this big FOMO because everyone around you is following a path entirely different from yours – they find someone they love, they marry, and they live happily(?) ever after.

What happens when you don’t marry? For a reclusive person like me, it is a journey of self-discovery, freedom, and fulfillment. For another, it might be that of melancholy. It truly is subjective. But it is a life that is definitely worthy, liveable, and sustainable.

To end this with the ever-famous lines by Robert Frost:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

An Ode to Freelancing and Its Biggest Benefit – The Freedom It Gives You!

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My dream is to get back to freelancing one day.

Having done it before, I know how fulfilling it can be. There are many advantages of being your own boss. You decide what projects to take up. You decide whether to say yes or no to a client. You decide how much time you want to spend on your work.

I started doing freelance work around 10 years back. I began my journey by carrying out some research on the best freelancer websites. Finally, I registered on Fiverr and instantly got some clients because of my portfolio. It was easier back then to find customers, unlike today, when the competition is fierce.

I was a freelance content writer. My work on Fiverr involved creating marketing copies for startups. My clients appreciated my work and gave me good reviews. Looking back, I am so proud of myself for getting the freelance writing gigs on my own. When I got my first $100 from freelancing, I felt on top of the moon. Frankly, even if it were just $10, I would have felt elated because this was proof that I could survive independently. It gave me confidence.

Throughout our life, we are on the lookout for confirmation that we are well equipped to face any challenges that come our way. We are skeptical, though, because we were never taught to venture out on our own. There was always someone to help us, guide us at every stage of our life – at school, competitions, college, corporate life. We could depend on someone (a parent or a teacher, or a manager) to help us out.

With freelancing, you are on your own.

You have to figure things out.

You have to decide how to get money.

You have to research and find out what sells.

It’s all you!

To be a successful freelancer, you need to hustle.

Needless to say, every little profit you get out of it feels like a big deal. Plus, the freedom to work from home and the ultimate control you have over your work is unmatched.

Freelancing is special. It gives you that sense of achievement and fulfillment when work starts coming your way. It is the feeling I yearn for now.

I stopped freelancing 2 years after starting it. The reasons being, my sleep cycle got messed up, and the pay did not match my hard work at the time. I would sleep at 5 AM and wake up at noon. There was no discipline in my life. I had a few passive income streams that paid a few bills, but more was needed. That’s when I decided to get back into the corporate world. I thought I would continue with my side hustles. But life had other plans. My work responsibilities at my day job increased. I had no time left for something I enjoyed.

Does freelancing count as work experience? Does it help your career? Let me tell you this. I got my job after the recruiter saw my freelancing work. All the hard work paid off. I know many freelancers (web developers, graphic designers, writers) getting a corporate job after building a solid portfolio of impressive projects. So I would consider it as a work experience. People are afraid of mentioning “freelancer” in their work resume. They are afraid that the recruiters might think it is a fancy way to say you haven’t worked for some time. The best way to prove naysayers wrong is by building a good portfolio of your freelancing work. No recruiter would say no to a freelancer who has done notable work.

Does freelancing pay well? Yes, it does. Freelancing is hard though, and it is not for everyone. Start small and easy. When you start getting overbooked for a month or two, increase your rate by 10-15%. You don’t have to wait till the annual performance review to get a raise!

Freelancing is the future of work. People are quitting big corporate jobs because working for yourself is mentally more peaceful. I would love to get back to it one day to be my own boss again.

There’s a funny quote out there that goes “I can’t wait to earn a lot of money and quit. So I can start doing the work I like.” Truer words have never been spoken.