Can you keep a secret? I got engaged at 23 years old.
It was not a dare, or an anti-feminist statement, or a cop-out. I didn’t get married because I wanted to wear a pretty dress, or throw a party, or become boring. (In fact, I wear sundresses throughout most of the year, and I love parties, though I’m an introverted, awkward bookworm at heart.) I certainly didn’t get married because of Pinterest trends or because the dreaded “clock” was ticking. If it was, I never heard it.
I got married because a few years ago, I met an awesome dude with paint-splattered shoes at a New Year’s Eve party. Four years later, and a little over a year into our marriage, I couldn’t be much more in love with this guy if I tried. We’re that annoying couple and have been since we’ve met. We share the same dumb nickname for each other and we are constantly all over each other like weird teenagers at the mall; we stay up too late watching Dexter and e-mail each other about a million times a day. Sure, we fight about chores and who will take out the dog next (as his poor puppy eyes dart from one of us to the other — “Come onnn, you go this time!”), but small grievances are part of the territory when it comes to with living with another human being. (We are, each of us, supremely bizarre. It’s great.)
Even smaller grievances (read: rush hour traffic, zits, banana-chewing noises) barely register for me, which is why I was surprised to find I was irritated after seeing so many vitriolic articles and listicles that have been barraging my newsfeed with the intent of warning young women in their twenties away from the danger apparently inherent in getting married so young. (Example: “23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”, as circulated widely on the Internet over the past few days.) What of those of us that completed that list (save one or two items) before we were even twenty? Those 23 items that list things such as “get a passport” or “bake a cake” are kind of, well, obvious for someone who should be acting like an adult. But more troubling than the vapidity of this list was the spite and bitterness spewing from my friends’ and acquaintances’ statuses: Glad I am not married yet! So happy I have “me” time. #blessed that I can achieve my dreams before finding a man.
I mean, seriously.
I am troubled that our culture associates married life with not fulfilling accomplishments; that as a woman or man, a ring on your finger means a noose on the neck of your career and your social life. This is absolutely untrue. Since marrying the man I love in October 2012, I have begun my climb up the corporate ladder, received professional awards, and started my Master’s degree. I continue to keep an active social life, volunteer as an English-as-a-Second-Language tutor, train for upcoming marathons and half-marathons, and travel as much as I can. I’m not bragging. This is normal for anyone in their 20s. And if married persons want to cuddle up to their darlings and never go out EVER, EVER AGAIN after their nuptials, I’m willing to bet that they weren’t exactly go-getters and social butterflies before they tied the knot.
Friends, don’t believe the hype. When the circumstances are right for you and for whomever you love (if you even want to get married, which if you don’t, hey, you do you), just make the leap, regardless of what age you are. Married or not, the old adage is true: the only person who can hold you back is you.