Augustina, Contributor, Jakarta
I will be 40 soon, but unlike many other women my age, I am living a happy single life.
It's not that I planned to stay single all my life. When I was young, just like any other woman, I wanted to have the usual things in life, like a husband and children.
But after two bad experiences, I simply lost interest in starting a new, fresh relationship.
To make a long story short, my first love was a man from the same university. Everything seemed perfect, and I let my hopes run away with me, thinking about how many children we would have when we got married.
After six years together, it stopped just there. While I was busy with my fantasy, he simply dumped me for a younger woman.
I survived, although I did feel angry and sad at the same time, leading to weeks of crying. Then I met another man seven years older than me, and I promised myself that I would not be hurt the second time around.
Again, I was wrong. For two years, everything went smoothly, and even my parents gave their blessing to our relationship. But it ended the hard way once again: It turned out that the man I was seeing was already married with children.
Even today, I remember my shock when two children ran after him, calling him dad when we were at a shopping center. Stupid me.
So, by that time, before I reached the age of 35, I had already made up my mind that I would stay single. After all, I am pretty happy with myself. I have a big family who loves me, lots of friends, and I also love my work, earn good money and have everything that I need.
As expected, my parents, especially my mother, did not take my decision well, and became worried. As the fifth of seven children and the only one who is still single, I understand her fears very well.
Soon my family was on a mission with a single goal: to find me a husband. I was invited to a family gathering one day and the next day, a dinner or lunch. According to plan, I would be introduced to a man who just happened to be there. Obediently, I would play along since I did not want to disappoint my parents and sisters.
As time went on, one by one, the efforts were forgotten, everyone went back to their daily routine and I was, finally, left alone. My sisters would no longer ask me about boyfriend and my mother would drop the issue whenever I stepped into the room.
I thought that finally I could live my single life peacefully. I honestly tired of having to introduce myself all over again to every new man my family tried to matchmake me with.
But it turned out while I had come to an uneasy truce with my family, my decision did not sit well with other people around me.
I don't understand what's in people's minds. How hard is it to understand that I want to stay single, and it's my choice. Unfortunately, most people do not get the message.
Whenever somebody from my office got married, some of my colleagues would ask me, ""When's your turn?"" Others gave me a long, funny look, which translated into the exact same line of questioning. The daring (rude!) ones even joked that I am a lesbian, which I am not.
The prying even comes from total strangers.
Once, when I was about to have dinner in a five-star hotel after work, the waiter gave me a questioning look when I told him that I was there on my own. He even asked me whether I was sure about it before I gave him a steely look and asked what was the problem. As a last resort, I was close to flashing my platinum card right in front of his nose.
Still, the dinner was far from comfortable. With many pairs of eyes staring in my direction -- a single woman eating alone! -- it was hard to enjoy my meal.
For me, as my own life choice, I find no problem staying single. I work five days a week, spending my spare time going out with friends or shopping. Most weekends I stay at my parents' home or with my sisters. What's wrong with it?
All this time, I thought that living in a big city like Jakarta would free me from others' narrow-mindedness. It's sad to learn that, deep inside, many of us are still judgmental people who cannot take people, and their choices, as they are.