I’ve never understood waiting around to be saved. Not that I think it’s an innately bad thing, but I have far too much trouble keeping still — keeping calm — to wait around for a guy to come hoist me up on the back of his horse and ride me off, heroically, into the sunset. I like sunsets. Horses kind of scare me. But being saved is something I’ve always thought I had to do on my own time.
I’m twenty-three and a good portion of the people I graduated high school with are married or engaged. I’m astonished, again and again, because I still feel so incredibly young. I count it as a good day when I can get myself ready, fed, on my second cup of coffee, and out the door on time. Seriously, that’s a good day. I find it so hard play-acting this whole “adult” thing — I’ve tried, I’ve started cooking meals and making grocery lists on real pieces of paper; I’ve started using anti-wrinkle face cream at night before bed (when I can remember, which comes to a solid half of the time). But I also laugh at the dumbest things, cry at the dumbest things, and sometimes wish I were still in college, tucked happily into my nest of homework and papers and house parties.
But I’ve never felt that I needed saving. Not once. My Barbie dolls ranged from Amazon Warrior Queens to Lawyer Barbie with a big, pink mansion and no time for a man, except for fine wine and dining. Besides all of my rookie mistakes, I think I’m doing fine. But I think women still have it in their heads that marrying will solidify their lives into something stable and manageable and possibly easier because they know where they’re going to be for the next few years. But being settled isn’t the same as being satisfied; knowing your future doesn’t necessarily warrant success. Why else would there be such a rush to the altar right after undergrad, during undergrad, right before you’re set off on your own for the first time in your life? This isn’t merging PDFs, or merging lanes.
But it’s more than that: what justifies being “saved” exactly, anyway? Getting a house? A mortgage? A baby? All of these things — besides the kid — are items that only further populate a life. A wedding dress should not be swapped for wisdom; a ring on your finger unfortunately means less and less these days. That’s the cold truth. These items don’t transition someone to a “safe zone.” Does that make sense? Latching down a man in no way guarantees that your life will work out. I’m a huge proponent of doing things for yourself, for making your own luck. And I do want to get married one day: when I have my finances in order, and can afford groceries on a weekly basis without calling home.
By relying on a man to secure these for you is unfair to him and to yourself. What if you were some guy whose girlfriend expected you to fulfill their deepest desires? That is a pressure-cooker waiting to explode. No one deserves that kind of treatment. That’s an absolutely naïve approach to the world, his limited (because he’s human) capabilities, and your own personal needs (that are varying and sky-high). To be satisfied and ultimately “saved,” you have to do your own saving. No person, however much you love him or her, is going to make you happy. That is completely up to you. They can definitely help, but it’s not their responsibility, and there are no magical animals in a picturesque forest to sing your wedding hymns for you. That’s one of those things that you find way down deep at the core of the matter. It’s one of those things you discover with time, with knowing yourself, with relying on yourself as an able-bodied creature (not to dredge up Emerson, here).
And I’m not knocking princes, either. I’ve had a crush on Prince Eric (from The Little Mermaid) since I was three—that tan! Those eyes! Cue swoon. But really, it’s okay to want a prince, because, girl, you deserve a prince. You deserve the finest man out there and then some. But don’t expect sunsets and a tidy happily-ever-after; expect an “after” though, something better: figuring out what love is, learning to compromise, and eventually, slowly and inch-by-inch, building a life together if it’s right for you both, when it’s right for you both. Isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway? Living is the perpetual “building up” of things, and to be an equal partner in a relationship — and not some passive, pretty little thing — you have to save yourself, help your prince in those inevitable rough patches, and put one foot forward, always and forever.