When I see a new Facebook post about marriage, my initial reaction is, Yikes…I’m over here single as fuck, in my pajamas and glasses, with a drunk ballerina knot on my head, still wondering how a mortgage works. Shamefully, it also includes a slew of judgmental thoughts and dismissive comments that either make fun of or question the couple’s resolve. I know that I am not alone in this, as I’ve heard many people in my age group complain about it or comment on how bizarre they find it to be.
What if we were to pump the brakes on that thought process for a second?
Think to ourselves, is that actually fair, Miss/Mr. Self-Righteous? Is it okay to judge this couple on one of their life choices, when most of us share the hope that people will be accepting of ours? (And by life choices I am not referring to that last shot of Jameson we just haaaaad to take before leaving the bar, or that naked Snapchat we thought would be a good idea to send to our ex, or that decision to eat the entire box of Oreos at 4 am. until we felt sick and hated ourselves).
Maybe we could explore what makes us so uncomfortable about it. Is it because we think that they’re making a mistake? Worried about their failure?
Is it something else?
When my best friend told me she was getting married, I cried. Not because I was excited or moved, but because I was terrified. (I know, that sounds really lame…I promise I’m not a terrible person, as I am now ecstatic for her). At the time though, all I could think was, what did she mean she was getting married? Is she sure? I’ve never even met him. She can’t leave me! We don’t believe in marriage, we are in this single-twenty-something-shit-show together. Wait a second, do I have enough time? Am I going to be alone now? Is she abandoning me? Am I the fucking weirdo for not being that serious with someone?
I stopped focusing on her happiness and supporting her and selfishly made it all about me and my fears. Her decision to tie the knot brought to light my own uncertainties and anxieties about where I was in my life. For weeks, I tried to process what was going on. Our shared singleness had been comforting to me because it reassured me that despite the overwhelming number of people I saw getting married, we didn’t have to, that we wouldn’t have to conform, that it was okay that we weren’t walking down the aisle because we had each other and independence was our priority.
So when she decided to get hitched, I had to look at my own values.
I realized that what I really felt was betrayal. This independent, free-thinking, feminist was going to get married? We were supposed to be above that sort of thing. ‘Above that,’ how arrogant and elitist is that, to assume that people who decide to get married aren’t as self-aware as we believe ourselves to be. I realized how closed-minded my understanding and interpretation of being a single woman was. I was chastising her for choosing to enter a marriage because in my mind it equated to conforming which scared the shit out of me. I questioned who she was, all of the conversations we had shared, and was eventually forced to face my convoluted misconceptions I held about what it meant to get married.
My biggest fear was that she had ‘gone to the dark side.’ I was terrified of losing our dynamic and the ability to relate to her with fluidity and ease. In my mind, being married was the ultimate cage, and the slow death of my already limited youth.
One of the biggest challenges we face in our twenties includes not being taken seriously. A lot of us can relate to being dismissed because of the assumption that we aren’t experienced enough to have any relevant insight. Isn’t that what I was doing to her? Dismissing her certainty in this man? Wouldn’t it have been far more empowering for me to believe in her ability to choose and make the right decisions for herself? She was already being judged for her decision. It was arrogant of me to assume that I knew what was best for someone else, especially my best friend, whom I trusted wholly and completely. If she was to tell me that traveling was crazy or the wrong choice, I would laugh. How can an adventure be crazy? Isn’t it fair then, for someone else to view marriage or children as one of their big adventures? Can’t it be just as challenging, growth-provoking, and meaningful?
If we are all struggling with being judged by older generations based on our age, rather than our conviction, why then, would we do that to each other?
Maybe it’s time we stop shitting on people who want to get married in their twenties.
I get it, in a lot of ways, we think marriage in our twenties is crazy and we find it impossible to conceptualize because youth is fleeting and we greatly fear the loss of it. In some ways, marriage has come to be synonymous with responsibility, permanence, and domesticity – the antithesis of what most of us define as being young and carefree.
I know it isn’t something that I find even remotely appealing at this stage in my life and no one is forcing me to.
However, some people want that and their decision to get married doesn’t effect my ability to get up and move when I please, lay in bed all day watching HBOgo, or negate the relevance of my decision to pursue the single life.
I also realized that my friend’s decision to get married didn’t dull the importance or depth of our friendship. If anything, my support and acceptance of her opened me up to new possibilities and perspectives. That is something worth considering in the midst of a petty remark in regards to someone else’s pursuit of happiness.