My name is Oluwatobi Olofintuyi.
Let me tell you what Nigerians think of me, a 21-year-old college graduate, not having a fiance, or even boyfriend…
The struggle. They see me as the struggle.(ALREADY!?)
It’s as if these Nigerians expected me to graduate from college with a ring on my finger. I was supposed to walk across the stage to get my diploma…all the while planning my walk down the aisle to marry my betrothed. They expected it to happen all at once.
Umm…what? These are the same people who all but glued a note to my forehead saying “no boys allowed” all through my 16 years of school. When during my avoidance of all things male was I supposed to meet a guy, date him, fall in love, get proposed to, and plan a wedding? Are YOU confused? So am I.
Nigerians aren’t even really as forward as you would expect with their “you’re not married yet?” commentary. Let me explain. There are always an abundance of weddings to attend. And for each couple getting married, there is more than one “event” that is a part of the marriage festivities.
As a single girl, one has to be prepared to hear some, if not all, of the following phrases at such events:
“We will do your own wedding, In Jesus’ name.” -Is the likelihood of me getting married without divine intervention that bad?
“God willing, I will be alive to see your wedding.” -Are you expecting to be old and decrepit by the time it happens?
“When you get married, my gele(large sculpture-like African headtie) will be oscillating.” -So it’ll be that large a miracle if I get married that you will tie your BIGGEST gele for my celebration?
“There are lots of fine(nice) Nigerian boys out there.” Soo…I should just line them up and pick? Or better yet…put an ad in the paper/on craigslist to recruit applicants?
“What are you waiting for?” Of course I’m intentionally waiting until I’m past child-bearing age and my youth is over to get married.
“I have a guy(their sister’s husband’s little brother’s best friend’s cousin) for you.” Umm…no, thank you.
These questions/comments/suggestions don’t make 20-somethings want to attend weddings, engagements, parties, or any other event where old married ladies sit at a table and render judgement on all the “spinsters”. As soon as you walk in, it’s like you can FEEL their watchful eyes, filled with pity at your LACK of marital status…you just want to hide in a corner, at home, under the covers.
I noticed the change in my mother’s attitude toward me dating during my 1st semester of Senior year of COLLEGE. It was probably while I was home on Fall break or Thanksgiving break. She asked me if I was talking to or dating anyone. My first thought: this is a trap. Are you expecting me to say no? Will a ‘no’ affirm that I am the good girl you raised me to be? Should I say ‘yes’? Is that answer going to earn me praise for meeting a “nice/good boy” or insults for not “facing my books”? With my mother…you just never know. I decided to just tell the truth. Nope, no boyfriend, no guy friend I hope likes me back, no annoying guy who is obsessed with me…nothing. I think she was a bit disappointed. *Cue more confusion and a sense of failure*
My parents and I never had “the talk” or anything remotely close to one. I just knew that doing certain things or engaging in certain activities might result in loss of life at the hand of my father or mother. Thankfully, youth groups, older sisters and bible study sessions filled in the gaps.
Besides being unattached, overall I think I’ve done pretty well in life so far. I graduated on time. I got a job before graduation. I have enough to pay my bills. I’m not careless or completely reckless in my post-grad behavior. I don’t have any kids. Apparently, that isn’t quite good enough.
Do I think about having a boyfriend? Yes. Would I like the comfort that seems to come with a loving relationship? Of course. Would it be nice to have a person who cares about my comings and goings each day? Absolutely. Am I going to going to actively pursue attractive men in the hopes of gaining the aforementioned? No.
The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22[AMP], “He who FINDS a wife, FINDS a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” So, whoever/wherever he is, he needs to find me. In the meantime, I will do my part in the “hide and seek” game. I will try to make sure I don’t look raggedy outside, be friendly, make sure I represent Christ daily, and prepare myself mentally to be found. I always joke, “I’m just waiting to be found.”
Until that happens…in the eyes of Nigerians, I will continue to be “le struggle”.