I'm not getting married in my twenties. Here's why.

I’m Not Getting Married in My 20s and Here’s Why

I want to walk an aisle with the best brain (and heart) possible.

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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.

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Me Saying I Don't Watch 'Game of Thrones' Is NOT Your Cue To Convince Me To Start

"Once you've accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you."

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Yes, I have flaws. We all do. But it seems as if though my biggest flaw is that I have never seen "Games of Thrones." Nope, not even one single second. I don't know why I haven't seen it, it's not that I'm particularly against the show. I guess it's just too late now for me to start it, as the premiere of the eighth and final season aired April 14th. And for some reason, I just feel that I'm too far behind to even attempt to start it.

But please, I beg of you, do not try to get me to watch it. I don't want to; I've made my decision that I have missed the "Game of Thrones" train and I have accepted my fate. It's OK, you can use your heavy TV series persuasion on someone else, don't waste it on me.

But not being a Thronie (I have no idea if you "Game of Thrones" fans actually use that term, but it's fine) comes with its own set of hardships. Yes, I know that missing out on "unquestionably the most acclaimed and beloved show on television" is probably the greatest hardship, I know, I know.

But trying to scroll through social media while seemingly every single person on my feed is posting about the show? Now that's hard. I see memes left and right, constant reaction videos, clips of scenes that I will never understand. I see people being shocked by certain characters doing certain things to certain other characters and I just cannot understand! It's tough, it really is. I feel like I'm in elementary school, sitting on the bench beside the playground watching all of the cool kids playing together. I feel excluded and uninvited to the party that is the "Game of Thrones" fandom.

It really is hard. It's difficult not understanding the jokes and comments about all the happenings in "Game of Thrones." But to those who are obsessed avid watchers, I apologize. I sincerely am sorry that I can never understand your "Game of Thrones" talk. I am sorry that my inferior self is not interested in your favorite show.

As some character that I will never know in "Game of Thrones" says, "once you've accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you." I have accepted that my major flaw is the fact that I have never seen "Game of Thrones" and that I, unfortunately, have no interest in watching. So please, don't use it against me. Besides, that one character that I don't even know said that you can't anyway.

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What Your 20's Are All About

Authenticity.

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Being a twenty-something is glorious.

It's easy. It's beautiful. It often looks like a pair of designer cut-offs or a laptop on a beach. It isn't terribly serious.

In fact, it's rarely serious. Yet it makes sense--more sense than any other age because it's newly educated, self-discovered, and hopeful.

Right?

This is what social media tells me. It is what college told me. It is something many of us believe.

I am convinced, however, that there is more to it than this.

Someone or some book neglected to add a few more postscripts to this chapter of the Book of Life. Or maybe they were lodged under the "Recommended Reading" portion of the syllabus (and hence overlooked).

Whatever the case, your real twenties are about something in between the really good vodka and the wandering. That something has the power to shape this decade of your life into a different kind of gem.

(Yes, you can cut your teeth on it.)

Uncertainty

College (or life after high school) somehow perpetuates the myth that graduation precedes a concrete stairway. And that stairway leads clearly to a life path, a career, a vision, and a culmination, all to the tune of Jimmy Hendrix.

A bachelor's or associate's degree initiates many into the world of work and careerdom. But it does not necessarily make things any more certain.

Perhaps you've graduated with a degree in French literature and suddenly feel an impulse to stare at lots of graphs and statistics.

Maybe you have no impulse whatsoever. You have hobbies—fixing bikes, swiping left—but cannot seem to grasp a vision.

If you're like I was in my twenties, perhaps you sense you want to do everything your parents didn't, if only your feet would touch ground sometime soon.

This decade is definitively unknown. Not having a solid sense of what comes next is not an inherent fault of yours; it's part and parcel of life's whimsical years.

Want in on a shinier secret? All decades are uncertain. This one just feels the ripest.

If you wake up every morning and have no answers (or job, or health insurance, or girlfriend, or house), great! You're doing this right. Answers will emerge, but in the meantime, sit with the discomfort of being simply where you are at.

Forgiveness

As the decade of uncertainty unfolds, lean into it. I found that I could get more comfortable with being an unknown entity in my twenties by forgiving myself (and others).

You don't have to go to an ashram to practice forgiveness, although I'm not discouraging you from this path. Nor do you have to start embracing a new religion or giving up red meat and Cheetos.

Forgiveness starts with awareness. Beginning to recognize the difference between personal goals and societal demands is the prelude to following a gentler, more visionary path.

When I forgave myself for being a perfectionist, despairing that I would never find a job, and wondering if I really should have chosen my English major, life became much easier.

Science also tells us that our brains are still firing, forming, and developing in our twenties.

As such, friendships may peel away. Certain kinds of knowledge may dissolve. You may start to realize that holding grudges or avoiding conflict isn't worth it anymore—or is now worth forgiveness.

Forgiveness can also be empowering. It's one of many doors that can shuttle you more effectively into the unknown (with grace and a good pair of heels).

Exchange

Everything we learn in childhood, high school, and beyond is not necessarily the truth. The decade of your twenties is about the conscious and willing abandonment of past ideals, notions, and information.

To some, this may be simple rebellion. To others, it may be part of the self's natural evolution.

To me, it's about an exchange.

Being in your twenties can involve trading in those old ideas for more relevant ones. It's like a consignment store for self.

At this stage in life, a lot of things crumble. A lot of new buildings and scaffolding develop. Sometimes, this is brutal. It may feel unfair. It may feel like a relief.

No one is here to say that you have to be the self of your childhood or the self of eighteen (or last year). Mindfully weeding out the old and heralding in a more graceful, informed you will make that part of your thirties that much easier.

Risk

If you haven't gotten the memo yet, this is all really risky.

I mean, trekking across Mongolia, coming out, changing your name, abandoning your career, or taking up deep water diving isn't easy.

Forgiving yourself and leaning into uncertainty—those are hard, too.

A lot can get lost. A lot more can crack, splinter, and explode. It's a minefield for the mind and heart.

This decade may be the riskiest of your life. But that's how you know you're playing a good hand.

Without risk, the path becomes in danger of getting "too comfortable." That's one thing we millennials can agree on, at least—to be comfortable is to be stagnant.

I say, be risky. Feel imperiled, whether it involves a belief system or relationship or vision. On the other side of risk is knowing.

Authenticity

This decade is yours. It can shimmer, darken, or expand depending on what you do with it. No one can tell you otherwise.

Society may urge you to be free, playful, and exuberant in your twenties. Excellent.

It may also urge you to be driven, focused, and cynical. Also excellent.

But your twenties are really all about authenticity, or what you do with it. The greatest years of your life won't necessarily be college—they may just be the ones in which you chose to live powerfully within the scope of your greatest and truest self.

If no one was there to prep you for your twenties, or if you feel that the ones who were got it all wrong, take these words to heart. Be uncertain and timid. But also be audacious and genuine.

The one who's looking closest is, after all, you.

Note: Another version of this piece appeared on Thought Catalog.

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