You gotta love those articles that float around Facebook which everyone shares a gazillion times and captions things like; “so inspiring” or “#truth” (come on guys, you do it- I’ve done it. It’s the culture of Facebook). But I especially like ones that go around and I disagree with.
Seems funny right? Well with media being such an open outlet so many people get to share a huge range of topics- and it’s refreshing to read someone else’s work who doesn’t share my worldview. To read something that is written by a person who is outside my circle of friends, family, culture, etc.
So early last week this article by Vanessa Elizabeth came out called; “23 THINGS TO DO INSTEAD OF GETTING ENGAGED BEFORE YOU’RE 23”. I liked it. I disliked it. And I agreed, and disagreed with her thoughts- and not just cuz I was engaged at 22 and married by 23.
Favorite quote- “…the LGTBQ community isn’t ruining the sanctity of marriage, the Kardashian family is…” #truth (haha)
Anyways, you should go read it. It’s for sure worth a read.
On to why/what I like and don’t like. I was watching a marathon of binging on “Bridezillas” a couple Sundays ago and this girl (I don’t say girl lightly, she was 19) who just so happened to be from the next town over from mine (the fair city of Elgin) was getting married to her boyfriend of a month in 3 weeks. So to make this clear- she was marrying a guy who at the point of their wedding she had only known for 7 weeks. TALK ABOUT BANANAS!
She had a total freak out before the ceremony and was almost a runaway bride. I’m sorry dear- but only Julia Roberts can pull that trick off with any semblance of grace…I mean look at that!
Anyways- I do think there is such a thing as getting married too young. I.E. If you can’t have a champagne toast at your wedding- because you can’t legally drink…you probably shouldn’t get married. Just sayin’. But being 23 when I got married, I don’t think that there is any real formula to it. No solid answer- unless you ask my dad; he said I wasn’t allowed to date or get married ’till I was 30. I also think you shouldn’t get married if you have no clue who you are. That is the element of this article I agree with.
Vanessa writes that at 22, she has no idea who she is/what she wants etc. I hear you girl. In fact I will see you, and raise you- most 50 year olds have no clue who they are. That’s the journey. Ya figure it out as you go. But as a person of almost a quarter century- you should have a foundational set of values you stick to. Things like; keeping your word, being there for your friends/family, working towards becoming who you want to be/trying to be a better person, being loving/thoughtful/generous, etc. Whatever your creed, I think we can all agree that most people* operate by a fundamental set of principles. By 20+ you are old enough to know what’s right, good, and what matters.
*If you aren’t there yet- do us all a favor and please do not get married- no matter what age you are. Figure your shit out dude- don’t need to drag anyone else into that.
The foundation of a marriage rests on principles like these- two people deciding they agree on what matters in life, and that they will stick together ‘for better or worse, sickness or health…’ as they figure the rest out.
I think the divorce rate is so high because people fail to realize that people change. But what’s so wrong in that? In fact, I think we would be a lot more pissed- if people never did. But when you take those vows- you aren’t making a promise to love the other person for the moment; “When you are exactly who you are right here, right, now and the minute you change-I’m out”. Its sickness and health, better or worse, winning, losing, or changing. Maybe in 3 years I’ll decide to switch careers, cut my hair and dye it blonde- but you can bet your bottom dollar I will still hold to my set of foundational values and that’s part of why my husband said “I do.” If it was for my career or hair- we’d both be screwed. Ha!
Where I start to disagree is when she starts talking about marriage as a sort of cop out;
“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.”
Every relationship you have does this to some extent. You can’t always deal with life on your own- that’s why you have loved ones. I just feel that it’s self-centered to think that you get through life on your own. The whole point of being married is to share life with someone- why does that have to be classified as a “safety blanket”?
Later on the article talks about how the last generation got married young, but it’s no comparison because there were different values, priorities, and no anxiety from the internet. To me, that kind of thinking is the ‘safety blanket’. The problem is standing behind the ideology that “things are different” instead of rising to meet a standard of dignity, character, and respect for ourselves and one another that should still be intact regardless of the internet or how times have evolved.
Moreover, the article expresses how we are responsible for our own happiness- which I agree with, completely. But her comparison of travel vs. having a family in my opinion suffers some oversight in that maybe some people’s happiness is in having a family instead of traveling. We are each responsible for our own happiness, but that doesn’t mean that happiness is the same thing or defined by the same measures.
Ultimately, the point being made is that at 23 you don’t know enough about yourself or the world to make such a serious commitment- and I agree that for some people that is the truth. But the list of 23 things she recommends to reach the goal of finding/knowing yourself display the kind of immaturity and selfishness most of our generation is comprised of- resulting in that insane divorce rate. Just a few examples; numbers 3, 11, 15, 20, 22- (forcing you to at least LOOK at the article- hehe). These suggestions don’t seem healthy, productive, or efficient on a quest to ‘find one’s self’ or ‘knowing who you are’. As for the rest of them, they are things you can do while being married- and sharing life together. It’s just way more fun that way.
Ultimately, I’m no expert on marriage- hell I’ve only been married just shy of 6 months- and I may look back in a year or 20 and regret all these words. But I doubt it. Because in the end- there are lots of things better than being married at 23, I just don’t think sitting in front of a window naked is one of them.
***Disclaimer: I read some of Vanessa’s other posts- and they’re pretty good. I don’t think she’s a bad writer/person/etc.- I just don’t agree with the entirety of this post. Also, I give her lots of cred because if you read through the comments on this article PLENTY of people were very heated about it. I’m sure she saw that coming, but good she put her opinion out there anways.