“I’ve seriously thought about putting in a fake MC just so I can avoid being seen today,” a single Malaysian lady, Singlerella*, told us in a recent interview.
“Today” refers to 11 November, also known as Singles’ Day by netizens. According to Wikipedia, the antithesis of Valentine’s Day is a celebration created in 1993 by the students of Nanjing University, China. However, its celebratory nature as intended by the creators is not a sentiment shared by singles everywhere. Some see it as a form of harmelss teasing; some perceive it as a form of bullying; others just flock to Alibaba and Taobao to enjoy discounts.
Lack of gifts
The bulk of the pressure is mostly due to the lack of reason to spend ridiculous amounts of money on even more ridiculous presents, dinners, and surprises. On the receiving end, many bemoan Singles’ Day as a cruel reminder that they have not and most probably will not be getting presents for Valentine’s Day.
Mei-ren Yao* shared with us that this will be her first Singles’ Day, “I broke up with my ex last year. Now, when I see something really expensive in the shops, I realise I have no reason to buy it anymore.”
She described her room as “emptier and bigger” now, as her ex used to buy her gifts every now and then. After finishing some of the makeup products (and throwing a few of the uglier bags at him during the break up fight), she’s slowly discovering more and more empty spaces in her room.
“I don’t count the days anymore”
Ne-Yo once sang that “since there’s no more you, there’s no more anniversary”. Many Malaysian singles are slowly forgetting what it feels like to count the days. They no longer draw cute heart shapes around a particular date on the calendar – there aren’t even reminders set, except for a few work-related events.
“I don’t count the days anymore. Not like I don’t know what day or month it is today, but… you know what I mean? Like, no more anniversaries and monthiversaries to look forward to,” Bujang* explained.
There are those who have no issues with being single. In fact, there are those who embrace singlehood. Unfortunately, there are also family members who aren’t OK with you being single and they make it known. For example, the most popular question during every festive season is “When are you getting a girlfriend / boyfriend?” or “Anyone in your life now?”
These relatives maintain that they’re only looking out for you because they believe that everyone needs someone in their life. With Singles’ Day, there will just be more familial pressure in the relationship department.
This is one ideological difference that actually hurts, and a battle that proud singles can’t win.
Some claim that Singles’ Day is also created with the aim to end singlehood. Parties are thrown during Singles’ Day so that single people in the area get the chance to meet each other and (hopefully) fall in love. Yet it seems that this only sheds unnecessary light on single people.
“Last year, one of my colleagues wished me Happy Singles’ Day and told others to wish me too,” Singlerella said, “The whole office knows I’m single now!”
The unwanted limelight has driven many into hiding. Some, like Singlerella, will be taking a day off from work. The others who can’t afford the luxury of a day off will be wearing oversized clothing, just so they have something to hide under if colleagues or friends start wishing them Happy Singles’ Day.
When asked if they have anything they wish to tell their friends and relatives who won’t let the fact that they’re single slide, our interviewees have this to say:
“There’s nothing wrong with being single. We wish people would treat us like normal human beings. We’re not freaks. We’re just like you.”
The struggle is real. This Singles’ Day, treat your single friend to a good day of dropping-the-f*cking-topic-of-being-single.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of singles.
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Words by Esther Chung
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