I’ve recently noticed an article that I expected myself to enjoy getting its share of posts on my Facebook newsfeed. 23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23 looked like it was just my type of article, especially as I’m single, have big dreams, want to travel around the world, and do all the other things I tell myself I’ll do, even as my Netflix asks me if I’m still watching six hours later.
This article had so much potential—so much—but I thought it was a huge letdown. The article hinges on the idea that more and more women are marrying under the age of 23 and the author goes on to say that, as she sees couples her age getting married, she starts to worry that she has something wrong with her. And hey, she’s not the only girl out there who feels this way. I feel that way too when I see my friends getting engaged… but then I realize I can’t even keep a fish alive, let alone a relationship. There is nothing wrong with not wanted to get married or not having a stable relationship in your early 20s, which is what I hoped the piece would say. Instead, the piece seems to devolve into a mean-spirited diatribe about how the author was the winner because her friends will all be pregnant and fat.
How can you generalize about a group of people who are living a life you are so obviously unfamiliar with? Minimizing a choice that two people made to get married as “a cop-out” or “an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own” is just as bad as them telling you that you’re bitter and afraid of the leap they are taking.
I know that getting married before I have a chance to graduate grad school isn’t very likely. But who knows what the future has in store? If I were to meet someone tomorrow and I knew that he could help me grow and travel and experience all sorts of kick-ass things together, I would marry that person whenever I saw fit. Because it would be my decision.
Who’s to say that engaged or even—God forbid—married women haven’t experienced the things on that list anyway? I’m pretty sure almost all of these things can be accomplished in your freshman year of college, much less a man by your side.
This article bothered me because it is doing exactly what it shouldn’t—judging others instead of empowering them, and putting people down to make yourself feel better. I know you can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time, but it’s possible to say that getting married young isn’t for you without saying that other young marriages are a sham. When words on a page come from somewhere insecure and bitter, they look that way. Sure, some people get married for all the wrong reasons, but you can do that at any age, and not just when you’re young.
If you’re single and 23, you should do the things on that list if you want to, and then some! But don’t do them because you’re afraid that someone will judge you if you don’t. Stop worrying about your friends. We should be past that by now. Don’t let a list dictate your life, because forcing yourself to tick off somebody else’s boxes is just another way of “tying yourself down.”
And if you do find somebody you love and want to marry, and if you do just happen to be in your early 20s, marry them if you want. You’re not bothering anyone except for the women who are set on “living their life” before settling down or the women who, let’s face it, would love to be planning their wedding in real life rather than on Pinterest alone. I admire you. I admire your bravery for taking the leap with someone you love, and for finding someone you think can help you grow as a person.
Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but I hope your marriages succeed.