Remember back in high school, when your mom (a stickler for always being early) dropped you off at your first Legit Party? Like, 20 minutes before it started? The awkwardness was palpable, and could be cut with a knife. You, sitting alone on the couch, death gripping your red solo cup, mortified and so thoroughly aware of how lame you looked. And, when the doorbell ultimately rang, you could not help but exert a massive sigh of relief and thank the God of watered down cherry Coke & vodka that someone else FINALLY ARRIVED.
Yeah. Divorcing in your 20s is kind of like that. Your friends are quite some time away from joining you at the party (because, let’s be honest, 60% of them will be ending their marriages at some point) and in the meantime, it’s a lot of silently sipping your drink on the couch. By. Your. Lonesome.
Thankfully, there are some benefits of jumping the marriage ship at a young age. The facts of 20-something divorce, in a nutshell:
1) You will lose friends. But, some of these people needed to be voted off the island anyway.
Those jerk buddies of his that never really liked you much? Gone. An easy loss. But the close girlfriend or two that believes it’s necessary to stay married at all costs, and looks down upon your life choices? Also gone. A less than easy loss. Ultimately, you’ll find a way to make peace with these severed ties – for me, I discovered a new group of amazing women (also divorced) and, oddly enough, we bonded over our shared pain. Those in your life who are uninterested in sticking by you during the difficult times weren’t really in your tribe to begin with.
2) Dating (while periodically horrifying) is actually significantly easier for the divorced 20-something.
Yeah, you’ll inevitably have some shitty dates. Laughably shitty. Dates that involve some painful, almost robotic head nodding during dinner, because you’ve realized early on that doing much talking is just not a good idea for anyone. But here’s the good news – having both married and divorced at such a young age, you sure as hell know what you DON’T want. Your idea of a partner is clear; your desire to settle has dwindled considerably since signing your name to those legally binding documents. You do not want history repeating itself. So, the good news. Youth is on your side, the ocean is full of fish, and you are in charge of where to swim. Go forth, Nemo.
3) You rediscover who the hell you really are.
As great as marriage can be (with the right person), it’s so very easy to lose your identity and morph into the dreaded Mr/Mrs hybrid. I see so many of my married friends as shells of their former selves, and now that I’m on the other side, it’s fairly shocking to witness this. Their interests, calendar, TV show preferences, all revolve around their spouses. And while they may be happy (more power to them, if so), my lack of self was a big part of my decision to part ways with my ex-husband. I needed me back, and I got her back. Divorcing in your 20’s means that you’re still in those formative years of self-discovery – and now, you’re able to truly make the most of them.
So, embrace the first few minutes at that party. Have a gander at your surroundings, get comfortable on the couch, and sip (chug) on that adult beverage. It may feel scary as hell and equally as lonely, but just know the feelings are temporary. If anything is true about divorce, it’s that endings are really just beginnings in disguise. And in the case of 20-somethings, we’ve got an entire blank canvas of a lifetime ahead of us.