Benchwarmers

I never thought I would be one of those women who feel a sting each time they heard someone had tied the knot. Yet here I am today. My social media feeds are scrawling with friends, relatives, enemies, even people I don’t know tying the knot. It seems that people are getting married everywhere I look, and honestly, it is getting to me. Just the other Wednesday in January, one of my crushes got married. Come on, who plans a wedding in January, in the middle of the week? Even my niece, a 2000s kid, recently tied the knot. It seems as if husbands are being sold off by the dozen somewhere and I never got the invitation to the selection party. The reality is, I have reached the age where everyone is settling down and kicking off their new lives. Just like any game, there are always benchwarmers sitting on the sidelines cheering off their colleagues, waiting for their chance to play the field.

I am a benchwarmer; this is nothing new! By no means are benchwarmers a derogatory term. I was always picked last, even from primary school. I’m not quite sure why I am surprised by the turn of events; it’s not like I dated anyway. “Focus on school”, they said; I did precisely that. “Get good grades”; I was always number one. Yet, while I excelled at school, my classmates learnt social skills and developed their emotional intelligence. Once you get the degree, it’s not your IQ, the number of degrees, job title, or any of the things I was told to focus on that makes you successful. Instead, it’s the very social skills and emotional intelligence my peers developed over a game of catch. At the same time, I focused on chess which aid in our overall outcome in life.

I am happy with the choices I made in life, but unfortunately we all can’t be out there on the field playing. Each game needs seasoned critics with no playing experience, and that’s the position I am fielding. I am by no means jealous either, and I am indeed not fasting for a husband. However, the only fear is joining the marriage field with a divorcee or widower. The older I get, the “ideals” are picked off the market, and what’s left are the career bachelors, divorcee’s, widowers, career baby daddies, mama’s boys, Mr. “chasing after a big deal”, and the sensitive but broke artist. I still have to play dodge ball with Mr “I don’t love my wife” or Mr “I always loved you” because somewhere in his twisted mind, he believes as a single woman, I am a substitute for his poor decisions or a toy for his boredom.

I have realised that mature single women are the most vulnerable social groups. There are not enough support systems that cater to this social grouping. There are a thousand assumptions and a million expectations simply because you are Ms and not a Mrs . My relatives seem to believe I have extra income to supplement their lifestyles as I have no husband or children of my own. There are more expectations from work, as it is perceived that you have all the time in the world. We often fall prey to social predators who prey on our emotional vulnerabilities and false claims that singleness is a curse. Marriage is held as the ultimate social price, and unwed women are viewed as social pariahs. Your married girlfriends can no longer relate to you as a single woman. Your married male friends have excommunicated you, and all that’s left is a bevvy of single women with different interests brought together by their singleness. Then there are the constant echoes of “why are you single”, as if there is a single moment in life where you made the “wrong turn” and ended up as a spectator in the marriage game.

After sitting through countless church organ soloist performances of the wedding march and catching bouquets that have since dried, I have learnt one important lesson. Life is like a game of Russian Roulette; as long as you are happy, nothing else matters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Faith Mangwanya
COMMENT (9)
Mary Patricia / 17 January 2022

I can relate. Beautiful article.

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Ayandola Ayanleke / 17 January 2022

I love this. Beautifully written.

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Takudzwanashe Ndangana / 17 January 2022

Parents should encourage their children to be able to strike a balance between the social skills and developing their careers. Sending you virtual hugs

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Faith Mangwanya / 18 January 2022

You are so right, balance is essential. My parents generation believed education is the key to success. And that’s what they focused on.

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NANNYANGA Restetuta / 18 January 2022

Waooo some nice piece, society ought to understand that some times we choose to be single while other times it’s not out of our will, we all wait for God’s timing!

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Tikia / 18 January 2022

Wow. This was well written. And yes to as long as i am happy nothing else matters.
But dear God get me off the bench ah beg..

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Justine Love / 19 January 2022

Surely, we need to get off the bench
Dear God, we ask

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Jordana / 18 January 2022

This is a beautiful article. Just know that you are not alone, we are warming the bench with you and our time will surely come.

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Nadjath Akanni / 14 April 2022

I’ve stopped caring about what people think or say when it comes to this topic, I shut it down as quickly as they bring it, the speed at which some people are getting married just to divorce is alarming you’d think its for the celebratory part of it smh …Nicely written, I enjoyed reading it.

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