Social media has been abuzz the last few days with an article entitled “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23” and a response to said article, “24 Things To Do Instead of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response.”
I try not to be personally offended by articles that I read, especially on social media. The author has a right to his or her freedom of speech, and I know he or she isn’t picturing my face specifically when writing a blog post. This time though, something struck me. Powerfully.
There is a societal war upon us. A war that has been in existence since the creation of Man (and the WOman). This war is between single people and married people/engaged people/relationship people.
The married people were winning at one time.
At one time, most people wanted to get married. Marriage was viewed as a privilege, and it was downright weird if you didn’t dream of your “I do’s”. You were expected to find a suitable mate (preferably resembling your skin color, religion, and income level), then eventually have children with the hopes that your children would find suitable life companions and continue the cycle.
At one time, single people could not wait to find “the One”. They went to parties, dances, clubs, meetings, praying and hoping that Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful would make an appearance.
Then came a shift.
Marriages began to fail. In our world today, getting a divorce is about as simple and commonplace as going to the grocery store. We’ve become an “anti-fixing” society. Broken computer? Buy a new one. Broken car? Buy a better one. Broken marriage? Throw it away.
Society as a whole no longer views marriage as sacred. It is viewed as a means to an end, a “cop-out” (as Vanessa in “23” put it), and a joke.
Since this shift, many single people are well, staying single. They aren’t interested in committing themselves to a tradition with a failure rate of over 50%. They’re focusing on their careers and their dreams and themselves and meeting lots of people and experiencing lots of things.
If they are ever going to get married, it’s most certainly not going to be for a number of years. The idea of marriage puts a bad taste in their mouths- they would be giving up if they ever gave in. They are worried they’ll lose themselves and lose the ability to travel, explore, even live once they settle down.
Marriages that settle for “settling down” are dangerous. If I was a single person looking in, I wouldn’t want that either. Any marriage where one or both people lose themselves individually is not the type of marriage that I want to be a part of.
Unfortunately, young, single people have a terribly warped view of what it means to spend to your life with someone. Reality TV, the Kardashians, Facebook, the Internet, etc. has completely transformed our definition of marital unions. People are either getting married for money, because of a sex tape, or they just don’t have anything better to do.
I don’t blame Vanessa for wanting to buck tradition. She’s tired of seeing people she knows “escape” into marriage, never to be seen or heard from again. She’s calling all single people (all the single ladies?) to take back their lives. She doesn’t want anyone losing themselves for the sake of someone else.
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I’m not that girl. I’m not the girl who hides behind her relationship. I’m not the girl getting married so I can be supported by someone until he either divorces me or dies. I’m not escaping. I’m living.
I have grown more as a person since being with Scott. He has helped me feed my adventurous side- to be spontaneous and to go out and explore. We’ve cruised out of the country, moved across the country, seen the Grand Canyon, ran a half marathon, watched Netflix marathons, and adopted a cat (just to name a few).
Further, we plan on starting a business, traveling to a new country every year, learning to ski, learning at least one other language, reading books, and more.
Getting married (in 2 months) does NOT mean I’m losing my individuality or that I’m cursed to a life of boredom until I die. I don’t think of marrying Scott as settling down. I don’t think of marriage as a security blanket. I don’t think of marriage as a cop-out or as a joke or as temporary.
I think of marriage as a blessing. I think of marriage as an opportunity for growth. I think of marriage as two people growing individually, together.
I didn’t get engaged to see how many likes I could get on Facebook. I didn’t say “yes” so I could become a sad, boring housewife.
I said “yes” to be with the person that makes me want to be a better person. The person who pushes me to be the best that I can be. The person who challenges me. The person who loves me.
Marriage is beautiful. Being single is beautiful. There’s no right or wrong time to be either.
We have to stop judging and start supporting each other. If your 26 year-old sister wants to go backpacking across Europe, support her. If your 21 year-old brother wants to marry the love of his life, support him.
Each person is doing life the best way he or she knows how. Some are getting married; some are staying single. Don’t let marital status dictate your life. Live, dream, explore, read, learn no matter your commitments or lack thereof.
Enjoy these 25 things (regardless of your marital status):
1. Take a yoga class
2. Watch ridiculously bad movies with a group of friends (i.e. Troll 2)
3. Stay in your pajamas all day
4. Go on a 5 mile hike
5. Invest in a good bra (ladies only)
6. Meet your neighbors
7. Pay for the person behind you in a fast-food line
8. Sing in the car and/or shower like you’re on Broadway
9. Make a list of 10 books you want to read this year
10. Start a blog, business, or website
11. Tell your Mom that she’s beautiful
12. Have an entire conversation with your pet
13. Go on a spontaneous road trip
14. Eat healthier
15. End each day reflecting on one thing you’re thankful for
16. Smile at people
17. Surround yourself with people that make you laugh
18. Write a memoir
19. Have a beer with your parents
20. Look at your body to see the beauty, not the flaws
21. Get up early to watch the sunrise
22. Find what you’re passionate about
23. Love bountifully
24. Go unplugged for an entire weekend (no phone, TV, etc.)
25. Never stop living