While this ceremony was happening, a wedding was occurring nearby too. My dai pointed out the couple, who looked VERY young. I asked them how old they were to which the response was 18-20. I’d have to say they looked at the oldest 18. My dai said it was probably a love marriage instead of arranged, which I felt may be slightly better. All I could think about at the time was my friend S“R”’s family situation.
His dai has no job, but got married. He still has no job, but there is a child on the way… My western perspective looks at that and cringes. Culture here has sons living with their families after marriage so my friend’s dai does have a place to live. He is relying on his parents to provide for him, his wife, and child on the way. I recognize I am looking at this from a western perspective, but at the same time wonder what thoughts came to his mind as he made these decisions.
How can you take care of a wife and/or child if you are not able to support yourself? As I mulled over my western thoughts and what I see as common sense, I had to check myself to not be judgmental. Age is relative at times so in some contexts, it shouldn’t be the focus. People here complete school at class 10 and if they pass, go on to +1 and +2 and/or university. This brings me to the title of my blog post.
In the States, the “script” of life is typically to graduate from high school, complete your bachelor’s, get a job, marry, have kids, and etc. I definitely did NOT follow that life script! There is nothing wrong with that “script” if that is where God is leading you to do. Just like there is nothing wrong with the “script” that I followed - graduate high school, attend missions school, work, complete associate’s, work, work in a different country, complete my bachelor’s, and complete Peace Corps service. (The rest of my script is not yet known!)
In Nepal, the “script” of life for women is to attend school up to class 10, if pass maybe go onto +1 and +2, get married, have kids, and etc. The “script” for men is to pass class 10, go onto +1 and +2, attend university/work overseas, get married, have kids, and etc. What I need to keep in mind is that these “scripts” aren’t wrong either if that’s what the people involved with them want to do.
What makes it not good is following the expected script when it’s not actually what you want to do. If women want to go to America, go to university, etc. it’s very difficult for them to pursue that due to opportunities as well as societal pressure to follow the script. In families, the sons will be given that priority over daughters. Village does not have many job opportunities and to go elsewhere requires money.
One of my married friends told me she wanted to go to America, wasn’t going to have a child until after 5 years so she could complete her nursing education, wants only one child and talked about societal pressure of when she was going to have a child. Her husband does not want to go to America. She is now 4 months pregnant. Time will tell if it’s a boy or girl. Society (and her husband) will put pressure for another child if it’s a girl.
How do you follow your script when everyone else is telling you to go by society’s script? How do you follow your script when you need support that isn’t able to be given whether by choice or ability? I don’t know the answer to that in Nepal. I feel that it is one of the reasons Peace Corps exists. I’ve shared my own culture and hopefully that has helped people to begin thinking outside the box.
In my life, I have been following the script that God has written for me. When I was talking about joining the Peace Corps, I got asked by a friend when I was going to settle down. As I consider different options I have available when I return to the States, I have been asked again when I was going to settle down. All I can tell people is that I’m following God’s leading. He is the better person to ask!
I do know that as I reflect on my life, I cannot imagine it being anymore perfect for me than what it has been. My thought at 18 was that being married at 25 sounded like a good idea. When I became in charge of a household at 21, I remember thinking that 25 was way too soon to be married! Now? I think I’m more prepared and open for it than I have been, but we’ll see where God leads me as I readjust to American culture. It’s not my priority!
For others? My next door neighbor got married around 20. She and her husband are happily married with children. That is her script. Mine is different. Yours is too. We are all uniquely made and shouldn’t be following someone else’s script or other people’s ideas for our script. We need to follow our own God specific script for our lives. Instead of putting pressure on what we think each other’s scripts should look like, let’s encourage each other in following the script that God is leading us!