I’m a bit late to the party with my response to a debatable article that appeared on Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still doing the rounds on Facebook so clearly it’s still at the forefront of people’s minds. Maybe you’ve already read it and shared it with your network, but if not, I’d encourage you to read it here first. Also, as a precursor, since I’m responding to a controversial article that I’m sure many of my friends agree with, expect this blog to be equally controversial, I completely welcome your feedback and thoughts!
For me, the subject of the article was confronting enough. By the time I’m 23, (three months away for those interested!) I’ll have been married for two years, not just engaged or dating, but with two years of marriage under my belt. Some days this scares me, other days is completely invigorating and when I saw this article pop up time and time again on my feed I couldn’t help but read it to discover just what other people my age should apparently be doing other than getting married.
To my horror, I’d achieved and experienced most things on this magical list, or planned to achieve or experience many others. Yet how is that even possible when I’m apparently just hiding behind a safety blanket, my husband. Clearly getting married as a 20 year old must mean I’ve never formed my identity as an individual or feel sure of myself alone.
“It is a way for young people to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own. It’s a safety blanket. It’s an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own; thus, you now have someone that is legally obligated to support you till one of you dies or files for divorce.”
For getting married at a young age, I’m accused of being scared of a big and scary world that I’m apparently not brave enough to deal with on my own. I’m accused of not fully experiencing life and being too absorbed and committed to one person that I don’t have time to experience multiple people at the same time. Perhaps it’s discouraging pieces like this which persuade young people to run a mile from commitment, hey, you’re in your twenties, why be bogged down by responsibilities and commitments (see my thoughts about a TED talk referring to just that here)
If our love is truly eternal, what’s the rush? No rush really but I’d rather spend as many years possible experiencing new jobs, friendships and the world with my best friend and in the seven years I’ve been with my husband, I’m so glad we’ve done just that.
Just to address a few things on this magical list of life achievements;
1. Get a passport – I think it’s fair to say my greatest hobby is travelling. I can’t get enough of experiencing other cultures, new places and being challenged by exotic languages. I’ve travelled alone, with groups, with friends, with family but also with my husband. Navin and I just got back from two weeks in Nepal, and I’m sure our future holds a stint living overseas too. What’s to say the travel has to stop once you’re tied down? I’d willingly sacrifice the many other luxuries in life if it means I’m able to see more of the world and meet more people.
8. Explore a new religion – I’m excited to see that religious exploration made the list amongst some of the other meaningless and selfish pursuits. I’ve found that my faith is the most personally rewarding element of my life, is something that grounds me and allows me to form deeper relationships with people. Including my husband! Our faith encourages us and spurs us on to love another when times are tough and allows us to engage in debate with friends of other perspective. If you’re worried I got “stuck” in my faith or was brainwashed by my parents, I’d encourage you to take a look at a project I undertook in 2010 when I explored as many as religions as possible in 40 days (Christianity, Islam, Cao Dai, Buddhism, Hindusim, Mormonism, Baha’i, and Scientology to name a few). You can read my blogs here. I think it is very healthy to question our purpose here on earth and where we may go afterwards and I’m glad I’m able to explore this with someone else too!
16. Watch Girls, over and over again – I’m not sure how many times I’d have to watch Girls to satisfy this journalist but I’ve definitely watched all seasons a couple of times and couldn’t contain my excitement when Season 3 started last Monday. Can’t say Girls is something I watch with my husband, but it’s definitely something married women, or at least this married woman enjoys!
21. Write down your feelings in a blog – pretty sure that’s exactly what I’m doing, and getting married has only given me more things to blog about because I’ve always got someone to bounce ideas off. I started blogging in 2009 (feel free to check out Globally Thinking here) and believe it’s a platform appropriate for anyone (single, engaged or married) to improve their writing skills.
I’ve also found my “thing” (2), made a cake (6), built something with my hands (12), accomplished a Pinterest project (13) and I’m sure, disappointed my parents many times (15) – amongst other things in this list.
Throughout all of this I’ve learnt to appreciate the season you’re in, whether single, dating, engaged or married. I know there’s days when I feel it’d be easier being single, or fun just to date again, but whatever stage you’re in go out there and experience life – not just instead of getting engaged!
How are you embracing your current life stage at the moment? Let me know below!
Really interesting blog! What I personally took from the article when I first read it, as a 22 year old unmarried girl, was that there are lots of ways to live an interesting, fulfilling life – there’s no need to feel worried if by 23 you haven’t met your perfect partner. I guess the honest truth is at the ripe old age of 22 there has been times I have felt uncomfortable being single, so it was nice to read this article! That said, couldn’t agree more that it’s hardly an ‘either or’ scenario. As you’ve pointed out, there’s plenty of people doing all these things whilst married and I’m sure there’s some unmarried 23 year olds who aren’t interested in doing them at all (can’t say I have any desire to accomplish a pinterest project). Great blog – have hit follow! 🙂
Thanks for reading! Yeah totally agree, and I did resonate with a lot in the article. I guess I’ve felt lately that there’s often a lot of criticism of those who marry young and it was time to address that! Sure, some people shouldn’t get married in their early 20s, heck some people probably aren’t ready to get married in their late 40s either! I’m definitely enjoying just being content with the season I’m in.
Have a great weekend!
I really like your response to the article, Caitlin. I am a person who can’t even imagine getting married at 23, let alone 20. But my reaction to the article was exactly the same as yours – the author seemed to make huge assumptions about people based, it would appear, on the expectation that early marriage is directly and causally associated with being extremely sheltered and lacking personal awareness. Hey, this is probably true about some people. Just like it is true that some people who get married late are avoiding commitment and some people who get married late are settling and some people who have relationships do it selfishly. It was offensive to people on all sides of the debate. Well done for knowing yourself and having the confidence to both defend your decisions, and admit that you aren’t a finished product. I always enjoy the way your reflections address being both a still-learning young adult, and a confident person who knows who they are RIGHT NOW. xx
Hey Caitlin, I enjoyed reading both the original article and your response.
I think the article really reflects a misunderstanding and narrow minded perception of the implications of marriage!
Marriage does not imply:
• You must stop seeing the world or having new and exciting experiences.
• You are a needy or depend person or that you cannot have your own experiences, friends and life apart from your significant other.
• Marriage and ‘settling down’ go hand in hand and that getting married means having an uneventful life.
However, I think what this arcticle reflects more than anything is the author’s own anxieties on the topic. Finding out that friends around you are getting engaged at a young age can be very confronting. It makes you re-evaluate your own life and question your life aspirations.
Getting married young is certainly not for everyone, nor will every one work out. However, every person has the right to make this decision for themself. Along as they are not in danger of harm, they deserve to do so with respect and without judgement.
This is great, that other article frustrated me with how ignorant it was. There is nothing to say that getting married means you will not live or life or that you’re ‘hiding’. I got engaged last year and I have to say ever since I have been on the biggest journey of self discovery and development than any of those 23 things could even come close to giving me. I cannot speak for other people but I am upset that people think getting married is just so easy and a ‘way out’. It’s far from a way out, it’s a life altering commitment with challenges that help you to grow as a person and find out more about yourself and the person you are with. Marriage does not mean giving up on careers or personal pursuits at all, people choose to do that, it’s not marriage that forces you to.
Thank you for your response I am glad I am not the only one who thinks so
I loved your post! Getting married early may not always work out. But doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. You’re great proof that it can. Everyone lives life differently. And it’s fine. What bothers me is when people criticize others for not living like life like them. It kind of seems like jealousy to me.