Here in Malawi we are often asked 3 main questions.
- What brings you here?
- Are you married?
- What church do you worship at?
But in answering these 3 questions, what I would like to point out is that these answers don't define who I am.
I am here because I enjoy working with disability, I enjoy grassroots project work and I like to work towards change. It does not mean I am a missionary, nor does it mean I am brave, nor am I looking for praise but rather it is a path I have chosen to take because I love it. It empowers me to be a better person and enables those in need to receive devices to assist them in activities of daily living, integrating into society and in some cases reducing the impact and burden on family and community by giving them an opportunity to be independent. If you are working in allied health on any level, within any society, we ideally are striving to assist in providing access to healthcare globally.
Second question. No I am not married. No I am not a missionary. No I do not want to marry you just because I smiled at you or spoke civilly to you. No there is nothing wrong with me. Yes I do realise I am 35 and that meeting people is the key to finding myself a husband. Yes I want children.
Because I am not married I don't see myself as a failure but rather I am a strong independent woman, wanting a partner that compliments me in life. I am still searching but I will not settle. Next question??
It is safer here to say I grew up Catholic - which is true. I attend church intermittently and believe there is a greater being. But that is is open to interpretation. Do I actually need to justify this? My beliefs and connection are my own - no one elses. I am content with that.
Whilst these 3 questions become repetitive and grate on ones patience, they do lead to a greater discovery of one's self.
We as a society, particularly Western society, place so much essence on career. I have a degree, that whilst not globally recognised, has opened doors. Doors that I have actively searched for and opened. I love that each of us can create our own destiny . Sometimes we forget that and get caught up in the progression that is 'normal' for our careers. But what is normal in global population that exceeds 7 billion?!
Secondly it is normal to want affection, life long connections and a partner that walks through life with you. Whilst one craves for that and now that Prince Harry is off the market, it might be a longer journey for me, this isn't helped by individuals pointing out that 35 is an age where the biological clock ticks - thank you - I am aware of the lifespan of womanhood!
What I have however realised is that I crave conversation, intellectual stimulation and like minded people in my life. I look at my closest friends, many of which are miles away, but every time I see them our conversation goes through a range of tangents that stimulate my soul. I struggle with superficial conversation and whilst necessary sometimes to get to the next level, why should we surround ourselves with people that don't feed our soul on all levels? It is for this reason that I cherish these conversations with dear friends and family regardless of the frequency and acknowledge that whilst single in an essence, I am for want of a better word blessed, with a variety of like minded souls. Gratefulness is too easily forgotten sometimes.
Finally my search for a greater being is just that my search. I don't ask you what your connection is to your God, nor do I try to convert you. Your journey is your journey.
In summary I am not defined. I am me. Like you are you. I am here because I want to be,
We are all on this crazy journey yet different pathways, but in the words of Nelson Mandela, 'As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same'.