It’s a dreary Thursday with bitter cold temperatures. I didn’t sleep well and I can’t get this crick out of my neck. Then I see that this link (23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged When You’re 23) is all the rage on my Facebook news feed, which subsequently triggered a whole new rage of my own.
Rage is maybe extreme; sometimes I like to exaggerate. But it really, it did make my blood boil for a hot second (
no pun intended). I’m not even sure what aggravated me more: the narrative that claims people get married young because it is “the hip” thing to do, the actual list of things to do that is completely uncorrelated or dependent on one’s marital status or the fact that so many of my “friends”endorsed/praised the article. Regardless, I found it downright inaccurate, unfounded and even hurtful.
Coming from the unique perspective where I was married and divorced by 27, I see her point. Yes, I think it’s harder for a marriage-or any relationship- to work out long term at a younger age because you aren’t typically as self-evolved. And yes, I do wish I had taken more time to sit and think more seriously about the commitment I was making before I got swept up in the wedding planning madness.
But, that said, I know very few people get married because of the weather or it’s “cool” or “YOLO.” People generally get married for what they feel (at the time) are the right reasons and things don’t work out for a handful of unforeseen circumstances. Including me. As much as I have regrets about my marriage, and I wish I waited until I was older so that I had time to be more in touch with who I am as a person, getting married wasn’t a nonchalant decision and the fall out was a combination of a variety of issues, from unrecognized childhood trauma to growing into different people. And one thing I’ve learned is that these things happen in relationships regardless of age.
The real kicker is this list the writer provides. You can do nearly any of those things on that list single or taken; I fail to see the correlation. Let’s examine a few of the gems:
1. Get a passport.
She also says “…it’s insane that I have already experienced more of the world in the last 22 years than my married peers will ever experience in their life.”
Whoa, holy judgement and assumptions! I had a passport by the time I was 16. I can affirmatively say that I was not even close to thinking about engagement rings at 16. Probably because I’m not from Kentucky. And actually, I did the most traveling I’ve ever done when I was with my ex-husband since it was a shared passion of ours and we were young enough that we could participate in an excellent study abroad program. Why in the hell does being married have anything to do with experiencing the world? Try again.
2. Find your “thing.”
Oh the naiveté! You are only 22, sweetie. Your “thing”
might will not be the same in five, ten, fifteen years. Your “thing” changes all the time because you change all the time-married or not. Plus, hopefully, you’re never defined by one thing as your “thing.” I don’t know about you, but I kind of like being multi-dimensional.
4. Adopt a pet.
Actually now that I’m not married I really can’t. I don’t have the time, money or space in this tiny apartment for an additional animal and sometimes, I feel guilty for having the two I do have. When I was married, I adopted two of our three beautiful fur babies and we fostered over a dozen dogs for a local rescue organization. That’s not feasible now for the aforementioned reasons. Also, do you have any idea how hard it is to be a single dog-mom? It sounds funny, but it isn’t. It’s like being a real single mom. Except they can’t talk or rationalize and there aren’t babysitters to send them off to if you want five minutes of privacy in the bathroom. ( I understand maybe she didn’t mean a dog but I digress…)
5. Start a band.
Isn’t this some kind of shit you do in high school? I don’t get it.
6. Make a cake.
This one is too stupid for me to even comment on. Except I’ll say that I use my oven for any domestic tasks far less now than I ever did when I was married. So yeah, enjoy that cake. It’s from Shop Rite.
7. Get a tattoo.
If the point is that you’re too young to commit to a life long decision, like marriage, because you’re still learning about yourself and growing up, what the HELL makes you think that something entirely permanent would be a good idea?!
9. Start a small business.
Last I knew, having two incomes would actually prove more helpful in this scenario…
11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.
I really don’t recommend doing this. Like, ever. It’s not really fun and you end up feeling like a shitty person.
14. Join the Peace Corps.
No thanks. No interest. Ever. Moving on.
15. Disappoint your parents.
Well this was easily accomplished by age 15.
16. Watch Girls, over and over again.
I didn’t realize Netflix was locked from those with a metal band encompassing their left finger?
18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.
Um, what? Are we 12?
19. Sign up for CrossFit.
Or I like to eat carbs and a regular gym works just fine, thanks. Also, are married people not allowed at Crossfit? Is that part of the cult rules?
21. Write your feelings down in a blog.
The one thing I have learned with age, is don’t do this. They’re called journals . Buy one. Get a pen and write all of your deepest, darkest secrets or feelings. The internet it not the place for this. I’m not trying to be the pot or the kettle here. I have this blog, obviously. But you have to have a handle on what you say, how you say it and who can see it. I, too, was once an internet crusader, writing all about my feelings as I traverse through the trials and tribulations of life and creating controversial posts that I knew would incite remarks. It’s not worth it and it’s out there forever. Use blogging as a creative outlet, not your diary.
When all is said and done, I get it. I’m sure there are some people, somewhere in America, who are getting married at 23 in the conventional sense where they become overly domestic housewives and pop out a few kids without ever doing anything to stir their self growth or development. But isn’t that quite the sterotype for any one engaged or married at that age? And isn’t that a scenario that has been playing out for a long, long time now? And wasn’t it the feminist movement that fought to allow women to do whatever we want– work or stay home; marry or stay single?
So here’s a new plan: how about you don’t judge those who find meaning and purpose in being married and/or a mom, irregardless of age and they don’t judge you for wanting a career or find being single your preferred lifestyle? I guess what I’m saying is: cut the judgements, cut the stereotypes and cut the crap.
I’m going chalk a lot of this up to the writer’s immaturity. She clarifies that she is 22 but obviously she is a young 22. Age has so much more to do with maturity and less to do with an actual number. The one thing I do agree with is. in the case of this writer, it’s probably a good thing that she is not engaged/married as it appears she has a lot of growing up to do.