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In an interview with Vogue Magazine, Ayobami Adebayo, author of Stay With Me, had a lot to say about how to handle the

In the interview, she acknowledges the fact that many women come under the pressure to marry and bear children. “I think for women in particular, it’s kind of like you’re expected to get married, have a child, and then you get to be a person,” she says.

This marry-have-children-or-perish expectation is global in its reach and causes a lot of women to feel dissatisfied with their lives and accomplishments. Adebayo believes that one can combat this insidious cultural expectation targeted at women by keeping oneself open to being alone.

I have always been very interested in the idea of loneliness, and the presumption that romantic relationships are supposed to rid you of that.

***

I think a large part of being human centers on the state of being alone, and we try to mitigate that in so many ways. While I think sometimes we are successful, it’s not possible to escape loneliness 100 percent of the time… I wanted to look at how it was possible to have an intensely intimate relationship like Yejide and Akin’s, and still feel very much alone for their own reasons.

She makes an interesting point here. Being alone is a human condition. It is not a disease that a romantic relationship magically cures. It is a part us, what makes us human. Failing to realize this and falling prey to the desperation of needing to be with someone at all cost opens us up to abuse, which, in turn, deepens our loneliness.

Part of handling the pressure of expectations regarding marriage and childbearing involves understanding, first and foremost, that “it’s okay to feel alone…it’s okay to make peace with the state of being on your own, and to use that as a point of departure in relationships.”

Adebayo wants us to remember that “being human is enough, and should be enough, and…that we all come to a point where we can accept that.”

This is a very powerful message. It gets to the heart of what it means to be a woman in a world where a woman’s success is still being measured against her capacity to land a man and bear children.

Michiko Kakutani is right. Ayobami writes with “genuine wisdom.”

Litter wonder that her debut novel, Stay With Me, is what everyone is reading at the moment. The novel is built around the troubled marriage of a Nigerian couple, Akin and Yejide. It has everything that makes for a gripping family drama—infertility, infidelity, overbearing in-laws, and dark secrets. But the novel has also been praised for capturing the dark side of modern love and romantic intimacy.

It’s good to know that in addition to being a skilled novelist Adebayo is also not one to hold back from sharing a helpful tip about life and relationships.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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