Wedding season is thick this August; social media is a blur of white dresses, first dances, and bouquets, and I've typed the heart emoji more times than I care to admit.
Wildfires may be raging across portions of the U.S., making wedding skies orange and hazy, but love and commitment are raging all the more!
It also seems to be baby season. Facebook, too, likes to remind me of baby bumps and the need for new strollers and maternity photoshoots. Many soon-to-be new mothers were high school peers; many brides are fellow college graduates.
I could not be happier for the humans in my life who are embarking on these ripe, powerful journeys, with men, women, or infants at their sides. I drool as much as the next person over the Instagram stories and social media albums, and I have spent more time than I care to admit wondering if I have the audacity to serve peanut butter cups at my future reception.
But I'm stuck in the middle of this decade everyone keeps talking about, and I'm not panting for someone to slide a ring on my finger. In fact, if I can help it, I'm not getting married in my 20s—like everyone else, it seems, is.
There's nothing wrong with me—I'm not predicting a future of cat companions and china bowls. There's nothing bitter in me, either. Let the ceremonies swirl on, but I won't be the center of any of them just yet. Here's why.
My brain matters more.
Science, time and again, has asserted that our brains are not done firing, meshing, and getting to know themselves until we turn approximately 25 or 26. In fact, studies also suggest that the brain keeps maturing well into our thirties.
Some people like the idea of developing and maturing with their partners. I like this idea too. My vision of an ideal relationship is one that involves a healthy dollop of collaboration and commitment to a partner's ebbs and flows and self-discovery.
Yet this statistic has me a little concerned. I want to walk an aisle with the best brain (and heart) possible. I don't want to walk it one day and then wake up three years later to the firing of opposite neurons, telling me that that really wasn't all that good of an idea.
I want to offer my future person the best version of myself, at this point in time, on this whirling globe of change. I like to think that that best version of myself also contains wizened, matured neurology, too. I want my partner to feel the same way. Offering anything less is like offering a deflated flan to someone on Christmas (sad).
I've gotten really close with divorce.
My parents divorced during my first year of college. This is no shocking news. After all, America's current divorce rate hovers between forty and fifty percent of all married couples.
Let's just say I got up close and personal with the shards of divorce. At the time I couldn't see it, but now I realize that divorce was the painful solution to a pressing need: my parents' individual needs to honor themselves because they didn't get a chance to do that before saying I do.
A very dear childhood friend got married at 21 and divorced a year or two later, for a similar reason. I was there as she prepared for the divorce; I was there when she told me that what she had really wanted, all along, was to finish her degree, pursue a career, get to know herself.
My heart broke, in the end, for the fact that divorce had to be the pathway to these lovely humans' self-knowledge.
I know divorce is unavoidable for some individuals. In some cases, it is the only exit for people in abusive or dangerous situations. Yet I don't want it to be my band-aid for not taking the time I need with myself.
I am vital and I need answers.
I graduated from college five years ago, but that doesn't make it far away. I feel as if I was skimming syllabi and dozing in lecture halls a mere week ago. I miss the thrill and ride of college life, sometimes, its vitality, and then I realize that I still have it all—the undergraduate's desire to learn, to travel, to keep seeking.
I'll have these desires and this vitality for years to come. I'm not saying that marriage won't permit me to be vital. But there's a difference between individual vitality and vital partnership.
I love commitment. I love being in love. I like knowing that I am invested in someone else's welfare, in the way that they sleep, beyond just relatives and friends. As a wife, I'll want to love in that way, and no ounce less.
Right now, I want to devote that surging vitality to me. I want answers to the questions I am still asking. I choose to keep asking these questions because I know I am still learning, seeking, growing.
In this sense, giving myself the benefit of my own vitality will ensure that I'll be all the more vital as a future partner.
Don't get me wrong—there was a time when I was ready to get married right out of college. I almost did.
But then I realized that my motivations for marriage did not fall on this list; they got swept up in all that white tulle and teary vows. I liked the images and the albums of marriage, the ritual, the energy. I liked the idea that I was following the path I had been taught: as a woman, you go to school, you get married, you have babies.
I didn't even comprehend the idea that I could matter more than all of that--the narrative and the ceremony. And that I should.
I want the same for my partner.
I'm not the only one benefiting from all of these thoughts. I want the same vitality, space, and self-love for my future partner, too. I want the playing field to be even and easy.
But everyone else is on a different racetrack. The only solution to getting on the same page is time.
And I'm personally a big fan of taking as much time as both of us need to get to our best and most ready selves.