I AM not in a rush to have children. I feel like I might get shot or perhaps get an inbox full of scary messages after this article, but I am not going to lie to you.
Let’s start by saying everything you’re about to read are my personal views and feelings. I apologise if you are negatively affected by what I have to say but I hope it won’t because everyone is entitled to their opinion.
I cannot and would never dream of speaking on behalf of ALL women. Everyone holds different beliefs, has different circumstances and viewpoints on having children and raising a family.
Everyone is entitled to their own outlook, and that should be respected. My husband and I are in no hurry to have children - we are enjoying each other’s company and focusing on our careers. However if Allah decides that we are to be blessed with a child, then I will not know anyone who will be happier than Ashraf and I.
We have been married for almost two years and I am asked regularly “When are you going to have your first child?”, “Are you pregnant?”, “Don’t you want children?”.
Someone I didn’t even know once touched my stomach after she found out I was married and asked “Dah berisi ke?” #areyoucallingmefat #personalspacebubbleplease
At first I was highly annoyed with people who asked me these sort of questions, especially if they were strangers. Why is it their business? But then I slowly realised (after many months of eye-rolling) that in Malaysian culture it is a way of showing you care, or it acts as a conversation filler. Fine, that’s fair.
But why are we always obsessed with what is next? Why can’t it just be as we are now? Why are we always looking forward, pushing for things that are yet to come? Why can’t we be content with living in the moment? This has always been something which frustrated me - why can’t we just be as we are?
I understand aspirations, planning and wanting something, everyone has the right to do that. But tread carefully when you ask people you barely know. You may put them in an awkward position. For example, asking a girl who just had a painful breakup, “When are you getting married?”;a couple who have been trying to conceive for years, “When will we hear the patter of tiny feet?”;and a person who’s facing financial struggles, “When do you plan on moving out of your parents’ house?”.
There is a line you should not cross with people you barely know. Unfortunately in this age of social media, those boundaries are blurred. Perhaps I am wrong but the stress of thinking about the future is heavy, add questions about your family life from strangers and you are probably having a not-so-fun experience.
Part of what I do in my work is to “plan for the future” and my mind is usually ahead by a couple of weeks, but in my private life I prefer not to live in the future.
Thinking that your life is only going to start after you’re married, only after graduation, and only after a child is a total waste of life. Live in the present. Do not waste it.
Growing up, I used to tell myself that “life is going to start after school”. Now I regret not doing more things at university, not exploring the space outside my apartment more and not trying out for the Glee Club (I’m not the best singer and perhaps my voice could have been drowned out by the others, haha).
I would convince myself that “I will be happier when I get a boyfriend”. I am now married but we still fight (love each other like crazy though, but arguments are part of marriage). “Everything will be easier when this big work project is over”. But the rollercoaster never ends.
I have learnt to ride the waves, to be happy when the waters are still, but to paddle as hard as I can when the current is strong. The words that people sometimes say do start to push me ashore (the “are you pregnant question” gets me every time), but I have the choice to not get washed ashore and instead just move further down the coast.
We can never control what people say, even if it hurts us but in order to live the life you want, you cannot allow them to affect you. You should not let the decisions of others agitate you either. At the same time, if you feel like commenting on something that may not sound positive, perhaps you should message that person in private or reflect on your words before you say or ask something.
I am trying to be more mindful of my words - be it in conversations with friends, jokes with colleagues, or questions to people whom I am getting to know. It is important to be thoughtful and think before you speak (or type as people think they can say awful things and hide behind keyboards or phone screens).
More importantly, we should all live in the moment. Do not poke our noses into other people’s futures or stress too much about ours. We can only plan so much, the rest is up to God and what He has in store for us. Everything happens for a reason, hold strong to that and life will be much happier.
Journalism graduate Iman Azman continues to navigate her way through the creative industry as a member of the dUCk Group’s marketing team. Here, she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like diving in headfirst into new experiences and opportunities. Follow her journey on Instagram.