All our lives, we’re praised for being ahead of the curve. For years, the words drifted into the kitchen as you were situated around the holiday’s designated kids’ table, picking at your aunt’s overcooked ham and trying to relate to your cousins. “Oh yes, she’s been reading since she could speak,” your aunt exclaims proudly. “Speaking of reading,” your uncle counters, “can you believe my youngest is already looking at colleges?”
We were born into a generation desperate for progress – a fast-paced, never-settling kind of attitude that fuels us to constantly live one step beyond average. But when we hear these little tidbits of success, why do we never stop and question them? Maybe that girl who has been reading since she was three would benefit from a break, some time to make friends, play outside, be a kid. And maybe the high school freshman looking at colleges should slow down and join the basketball team instead. But of course all of that sounds silly, because we love the progress and we marvel at people who outpace the norm. There must be something about them – whether intellectually, emotionally, spiritually – that has equipped them for such a way of life. And for that, they should be praised.
But there are a few things in this world that aren’t always met with this same wonder and envy. Young love is one of them.
You don’t often hear, “Yes, she’s getting married and she’s only 22!” around that holiday dinner table. Why is there nothing intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually advanced about that? Why is the world cautious and hesitant to trust your judgment? Why do they wish you would slow down and make some friends and join the basketball team? Well, as angsty and slam-the-bedroom-door/turn the music up/you don’t understand me as it may be, they’ve never felt it before. You have, and I have, and that’s a good thing.
You know how it feels to experience the deepest, craziest emotions for another person, all while living under the rules of your parents, teachers, and the adult-managed world. They never had to work around those rules. They never had to go home, get off the phone, or hand over the car keys for no distinct reason. And, most importantly, they don’t know the bond that two people create when they’re both facing those controls. They never had to strategize, to cry, to fabricate stories. They don’t know that frustration and they don’t know how to connect to someone who does. But you do, and that’s what makes you stronger.
They don’t know how it feels to fall in love with a person who is still deciding who they are. They can’t imagine the importance and comfort of going through that transition with someone and managing to adapt and grow and learn with each changing element of the process. They don’t know the kind of strength that takes, and they don’t know how much it means when two people are able to look back on those years from a place far beyond them. But you do, and that’s what holds your hearts together.
They’re going to tell you it’s hard. They’re going to show you the statistics and warn you and scare you into questioning the only thing you’ve ever known. They’re going to make you wonder how the thing that brought you peace in every sign of adversity could ever fall into a category of sad endings. How you could ever sit in an office or get a lawyer or fill out paperwork to erase the name you used to scribble in your textbooks, adorned with hearts and fantasy visions.
Don’t listen to them.
Because there’s something different about looking into the eyes of the person you loved when you were young. There’s something about forgiveness and this unspoken understanding that you know where they’ve been. When others can’t help but slam the door and curse the struggle and fall victim to the statistics, there’s an extra strand to hold onto for the girl who married young. There’s a history and a connection and a bond that you can’t make outside those sacred years. Hold onto that, grow with it, and remember it in the face of every critic.