To Be Young and Not in Love
You know them. You may be one of them. If you have a Pinterest account you can see them rising from the depths of your home page, posting various mason jar and burlap-themed photos to boards with titles like “My Dream Wedding”, “Wedding bells!”, or the most infuriating of all: “Ever mine, ever thine, ever ours.” Come on, ladies! Everyone with a pair of even semi-working eyeballs has read, and most likely incorporated into their vows, this Beethoven quote.
If you are a young 20-something, or perhaps more specifically a recently-graduated female from a southern university, you know exactly who I’m talking about. These girls haunted your senior year with Instagram posts of engagement photos involving being wrapped in a quilt (has anyone figured out what that’s about yet? If so, clue me in), sorority ceremonies where you were forced to serenade a sister in high heels and near darkness, and the realization that you will have to shell out another $250 for a bridesmaid dress in some pale violet color that every 2016 bride hopes will stand the test of time but actually won’t.
The thing about being 23 and knowing at least ten married couples is that it enlightens you to the fact that while some people are out making mature adult married decisions you are still eating drunken street hotdogs at 3 AM. Yeah, I might sound like a jealous “forever alone” type who pouts over a pint of ice cream when Susie Q from freshman year gets a ring on it, but it’s not jealousy that’s my problem.
Brides, I see you rolling your eyes and doubting me, but I’m serious! As someone who has done so many things alone, nary a boyfriend or even casual hookup in sight at graduations/funerals/family get-togethers/etc., I can’t imagine facing the bigger events of my 20s with anyone, let alone a husband, potentially slowing me down. I have to admit that it’s nice to look at graduate schools knowing that there’s no one depending upon my choice. If I want to move to California for grad school, I can, and it’s not based upon anyone else’s opinion. If I want to travel to the moon in a damn rocket ship with Brad Pitt, I can do that and not have to ask someone that I am legally bound to for permission.
Yes, yes. I know this isn’t how marriage is “supposed to work.” Two halves becoming one, an eternal celebration of love, two people supporting one another through all seasons — all the stuff that the rom-coms of our childhood spoon fed us in form of hot pink-colored Kool Aid. Girl meets Boy, quickly loses her independent and spirited sense of self, and signs her life away because Boy is a hedge fund manager with courtside seats to the Knicks. However, there are girls who grew up and spit out the Kool Aid. There are girls who decided maybe they wanted a little more time to figure themselves out before they decided that absolutely, for sure, they would love to grow old in a sweet, gentrified neighborhood with their high school sweetheart. Some of this might seem a little weird to the girls who got married out of college, sometimes before they could even drink legally, but I’ve heard so much about “young love” that I think someone ought to write about what it’s like to be “young and not in love.” Not only is young and not in love possible, but there are women out there who are young and happy not to be in love. This might shock you! My 93-year-old grandmother, if she ever reads this, should take this moment to sit down and fan herself.
There are people that I’m being incredibly unfair to right now and I acknowledge that fact. One of my dearest friends has parents that got married at age 16 and, if you can judge from an outside perspective, have a beautiful and loving marriage. For example, her dad recently flew his wife of 30 years off to the Cayman Islands for a getaway simply because he knows she hates cold weather. Tickets to the Ritz and the beach, all with the man you love? This isn’t fiction, people. Maybe my suspicions of marriage, particularly when the bride and groom only recently completed their final exams, are too cynical and simply stem from the fact that I am a Child of Divorce (ugh). Maybe it’s unfounded. Maybe, though, I’m being smart and making the decision to get to know myself fully and experience what the world has to offer before the old ball and chain ties me down.
To all the married 20-somethings that have read this post and now feel annoyed with me: I’m so sorry. I sincerely hope that you’re married to your soulmate, have a lifetime of love, and that your bridesmaids find ways to incorporate their dresses into future events. All I’m saying is that I wish someone would start viewing things from our perspective. You know, the perspective of the girl who’s always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Every movie involving one of “us” (shout out to anything starring Katherine Heigl) ends with the bridesmaid becoming a bride, because what type of woman makes it in a Hollywood film without getting a husband by the end of the two hours?! It’s time to stop assuming every 22-year-old in her senior year of college is waiting for that “ring by spring.” It’s time to stop doubting what women can, and want to, achieve on their own. My ode to young brides everywhere, while perhaps a little too cynical and tired, draws one final conclusion — let’s show a little more love for the single ladies.
[Photo by Julie Bloom.]