“Wherever you go, go with all your heart worn out and broken in like hand me downs.” –Transit
“Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday but I realized some bigger dreams of mine.” — Taylor Swift
A couple weekends ago, I went to a wedding of one of my oldest friends. The first glimpse of her coming down the aisle brought me to tears. She was perfect. Her husband was floored. They were happy.
Later that night I asked him, “do you know how lucky you are?!” He smiled, looked at her while she was oblivious, talking to friends and said, “of course I do.”
This blog isn’t about them, because they’re a rare breed. They waited awhile, planned out their marriage carefully and made a commitment only after they showed each other that they really wanted it, regardless of how amazing or painfully average each day spent together would be.
However, most people aren’t like my friends. Most people want a wedding, not a marriage.
Growing up in small-town Western Maryland, I remember idolizing the idea of getting married at an early age. It seemed like we were encouraged to aspire to the day a man gets on his knee and deems us as worthy of love and a life full of giggles and muted 80s love-making montages. This can be seen as early as 14, where girls dream and obsess over the perfect “promposal” that ends up being more elaborate than freaking marriage proposals.
“Hey, Jackie. I’m gonna ride into the cafeteria on a freaking hot air balloon with cobras who I spent the last 31 months teaching how to sign ‘prom?’ with their bodies while a group of Himalayan monks sing an a cappella version of whatever idiotic song is popular right now!”
Sure, these cute signs and gestures make for great Instagram posts, but then what? It’s the same sweaty, uncomfortable, awkward, yet adorable experience everybody else had at their first prom. The fairy dust and pomp and circumstances are cute on the surface, but there’s no substance, and in the long run, it just perpetuates a fantasy that girls need to wait to be swept off their feet.
Most people I knew in elementary school, middle school and high school are either now married with children, just married, engaged, on the verge of getting engaged, or even divorced both with and without kids. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, in fact, in a lot of cases, they have healthy, mutually supportive relationships, but I can’t help but think that our community’s worship of the “young love fairytale” might have had something to do with the reason why everyone is so eager to get to the next milestone.
I guess 25 isn’t young, but when you go to the city, most people aren’t even thinking about marriage until their 30s, while in my small town, I often feel like a leper without a ring on my finger or the sound of wedding bells in my near future.
I always believed that once you got married, everything would be okay because you had your partner, your best friend, your prince beside you, but I’m realizing now that there’s so much more than perfect Pinterest party favors or Mr. and Mrs. monogrammed towels. There will be fights and doubt and sleepless nights and heartbreaks. Just because two people spend a lot of time and money making a commitment, doesn’t mean they’re gonna ride into the sunset. The perfectly matched bridesmaid dresses and bouquets won’t be hanging around when there’s a death in the family or life gets hard. That stuff fades away, and fast.
If you feel like something is wrong with you because you’re not married at 25, I promise you that you are just fine. There is so much to do and see in this big, beautiful world and signing a piece of paper and picking out a cupcake dress won’t make you a princess and neither will climbing to the top of Griffith Observatory to see the L.A. skyline, but only the latter can be done by yourself, and I swear I felt as close to heaven as I thought possible, and it was completely free.
I love weddings. I love the pureness of true romance, and I will always love love. I’m still a sucker and a softie, but I’m no longer drinking the kool-aid of the “marry young or bust” cult that I see so often in small towns — especially my own. I’m going to be brave and do things by myself even though it would be easy to get into a relationship and eventually a marriage with someone just for the sake of not being alone.
I know that I will feel a fire in my bones again, and then the glitter and cake toppers and background noise of, ‘you’re such a pretty girl, why aren’t you married yet’ won’t matter.
And it will be good.