Memoir

The Only Single on the Block | Pt 3: A Life Well Planned

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
This piece is part of the The Only Single on the Block Collection.

When I started living by myself, it meant I no longer had an in-built person with me who could go with me to do things I wanted to do. I watched movies at home and had food ordered in, or waited to hang out with family or friends to eat out and go to the movies. One thing I decided not to wait for my family’s visits was to go to the botanical gardens to see the flowers in season and the park in all its spring splendor. I grabbed a water bottle and a book to read and headed there by myself.

When I was at the garden, my mother video called me. My side of the screen showed the open sky and the unmistakable trees and flowerbeds in the background. The next thing I heard was my mother’s, “No, no, no! You went by yourself?” I just laughed at her. I remember the moment vividly, holding the phone in my hand, twirling it around to show her the gardens and laughing.

From my point of view, I had added another place I could go by myself to the places I liked to visit in the city. From my mother’s point of view, I was getting uninhibited—freer to move around as an individual. Her priority was that I drop everything I’m doing with my life to find a husband to do these things with. When I’d gone the simpler route and just went by myself to the garden filled with families and couples and children, my mother was scandalized.

Going to the gardens is not the only thing I shouldn’t be doing on my own. 

According to my mother, getting further education to advance my career is something I should do with a husband and children. “Get married, then you can do further education.” Really? The way I look at it, the interminable search for a husband is not something worth putting anything else on hold for. It’s not as if I look harder, I will find him more quickly. The search is going to take as long as it is going to take, because I can’t rush what has been written in my destiny by Allah. I’d rather take a break from looking, get further education that I can use to get a better job, then return to the search.

It’s not as if the search is going anywhere. It will be there whenever I return to it. The only difference is in the age of potential matches I find. When you remove the ticking clock from the marriage search, it removes a lot of stress from your life. Acting like there is a deadline to get married, as if there is a point where time will “run out” and I won’t be able to find anyone to marry me is quite ridiculous. 

Sure, I might miss out on the window of having biological children, but once again this is something written in my destiny. I know people my age who are seven years into their marriage and don’t have kids yet. I’ve been unmarried all the time they were waiting for a child. Are they closer to having a biological child than I am? In the end, it all depends on what Allah is going to give you in this world. Stressing about it is not going to achieve anything.

I don’t say this lightly. I have looked forward to having my own kids since I was thirteen. When I made a “slam book”, those little journals high school girls made filled with questions for their friends to answer, my friends asked why I had so many questions about future children. Would you raise your future children the way you were raised? Would you be a strict parent? How would you explain 9/11 to your children? My fellow teenage girls did not understand why I wanted to know their opinions about these things when motherhood was a good way away. I have since come to realize that most of my classmates took life as it happened to them. When they were in school, they were in school and did not think beyond it. When their parents found someone for them to marry, then they got into the mindset that they were going to start their married lives. When they had children, only then did they ever consult any online or published resources about childrearing. They weren’t like me, who spent years addicted to reading parenting blogs a long time before my parents even brought up the question of my marriage. When I was a teenager, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey to improve my life. In my twenties, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey, which is written for the husband and wife at the head of the family to lead their family unit. Did I have a husband? Was I going to have kids any time soon? No, and no, but I wanted to read about it, so I did.

Then again, I am the kind of person who believes that you can learn about anything you want to know through reading the right books. Nowadays, there are enough Muslim classes, courses and coaches on marriage and love to suffocate a herd of elephants. In the beginning, I read a few books on the subject without realizing there was so much material on offer. By the time I started to get bombarded by ads to learn about getting married online, I was several years into the marriage search. Strangely enough, I did not feel inclined to find out what every source on the subject had to say. I took a few courses from some teachers I trust, then I stopped. It felt like taking more courses would just be busy work that not only kept me away from the search itself, but was also an unnecessary expense. 

Now that the Muslim ummah has been in a marriage crisis for a while, where single Muslims are spending years upon years through their twenties, thirties and beyond unsuccessfully looking for someone to marry, the fact is that these classes, courses, and coaches have a market. It is a decent money-making machine. I maintain my opinion that none of them are required to actually get married. Sure, it’s exhausting to look for someone to marry. When someone promised me results, I got momentarily tempted to open my wallet. Ultimately, I knew that nobody sells the secret to getting married. The hamster wheel of marriage courses would take me nowhere and would only further exhaust me. If I really wanted to recover from the strain of looking to get married, I needed to take a break.  

A break from the marriage search: what a wild concept! Yet it is perfectly reasonable. In fact, most people can’t keep up an indefinite search without becoming burned out and bitter. For me, it’s not even about pausing to pursue further education or enjoy everything else Allah has blessed me with. It’s about giving myself a break from the process of looking. Being single is not that bad. The search is the awful part. It is so awful that every time I find someone halfway decent, I get my hopes up not because I am genuinely interested in the man, but because I think I’ll finally be done with the awful searching and will be able to move on with my life. 

Reality check: I get ghosted again for the millionth time. 

The last time I went through six months of this, I took another six months off from looking. Not only was my mental health getting affected, it was also impacting my education and subsequent job search.

I think of it this way: my quest to upgrade my career in my early thirties is actually a lot more fruitful project than looking to get married. One way or another, once I get the right credentials and send out enough resumes, I’ll end up working somewhere better. The job search can also be terrible and take months and years, but unlike the marriage search, I can temporarily do substitute jobs until I make progress with my career. As I don’t date and am looking to get married directly, there is no substitute half-step for me. It’s all or nothing.

At the end of the day, there is no secret to getting married, but you can make it an easier process for yourself by doing things you really want to do on your own without waiting for a spouse and taking breaks. Since last year, I have started going to the cinema by myself. I have stopped waiting for someone to be available to go with me. If someone is available, I will go with them. Otherwise, I just go by myself. It’s quite fun and liberating once you get over the fact that you’re there by yourself. My next goal is to go to a halal steak dinner by myself. Then the typical plans for any single who is over the fact that they’re single: travel to see the world that I want to see without waiting for a spouse. If a spouse pops up along the way, he can join in my plans. Until then, I am happy to live life on my own terms.

Iqra Khan is a dentist by profession and a writer by passion. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Oral Biology at Texas A&M College of Dentistry while she works on her second young adult novel. Her first young adult novel, Hackschool Project, a tribute to the adventures and challenges of student life, was published in March 2021 with Daastan. Based out of Dallas, Texas, she spends her creative time writing about her experiences for MYM, blogging as an author, writing serialized teen fiction for magazines and working on writing Muslim speculative fiction. She enjoys drawing, painting, reading and playing videogames in her spare time.

2 Comments

  1. “Being single is not that bad. The search is the awful part.”

    So true! When you’re in the “trenches” of searching, the only option left is to find joy wherever you can. Dates with myself are the best! ❤️ May Allah ﷻ bless you with a pious, righteous, and spouse as FUN as you are!

Write A Comment

Pin It