I’m Not Getting Married in My 20s and 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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Poetry On Odyssey: Every Time

A poem about those places you never need the address to.

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Life was like that sometimes:

Like a thick sheet of rain

Over your car's windshield.

The world clear, but blurred

Beyond recognition.


The thing that you want most

So close, yet so unclear

You walk the slick pavement

Slipping, sliding, tripping

Into uncertainty.


Rain drops fragment the glass

A mixed-up mosaic

Of a landscape once-known

Is it you who's differ'nt?

Or is it I who changed?


I walk the water-logg'd

Path back to the only

Roadway I know by heart.

I slam the door and drive.

I drive t'you every time.

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Five Questions To Ask If You Want to Be an Entrepreneur

The entrepreneurial existence is not for the light-hearted or the purely whimsical.

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The average age of an entrepreneur is 42. But don't let this fact dissuade you: studies indicate that the millennial generation cares more about entrepreneurship than previous generations; over half dream of self-employment or starting their own business.

Certainly, the perks of crafting your own business are ample. Entrepreneurs often get to set their own schedules, create their own rules, and delight in bringing their special visions into the world. If you have the right skills and financial savvy, entrepreneurship may even provide profound job security, an asset for fresh graduates.

Yet the entrepreneurial existence is not for the light-hearted or the purely whimsical. There are several things to consider before bushwhacking into your own business, especially if you are still lining up your cards for your future.

Ask these five questions to get started. (These are not meant to be comprehensive—I highly advise consulting mentors, advisors, and family members further before taking the plunge!)

What's my specific vision?

Whether you've envisioned opening a raw vegan café downtown or launching a luxury men's clothing brand, it's essential to identify your specific vision prior to crunching numbers, setting up a Kickstarter, or taking out a business loan.

Vague, hazy, or fanciful visions will struggle to cohere—if they are able to do so at all. Vision functions much like a clear thesis statement in an academic essay: the more precise and specific it is, the more likely the essay is to follow a solid, logical structure.

Your entrepreneurial vision will feed into your master plan of attack—basically, your plan for doing this thing—and all future financial decisions. Down the road, it can even determine your brand itself, how you go about marketing this brand, and who your target audience is.

Take a moment to assess the specificity of your current vision. (Hint: the most specific visions will make it easier to answer the following questions). If you're having trouble nailing down details or even the "how" of this vision—the steps you'll take to implement it—chances are you need a little more specificity before passing Go and collecting your $200.

The "vision" or "idea" stage of business planning may last longer than you realize. Many successful business owners spent years letting an idea simmer, getting to know their market, and building a team.

This doesn't mean this stage isn't valuable—it is incredibly so. Yet, depending on your vision, this stage requires a little more commitment than most realize.

What resources do I have to accomplish this vision?

Dreams don't spread their own wings—you'll have to carry this vision into the world eventually! Turning your ideas into tangible products or teams of employees requires resources, and a lot of these.

Many entrepreneurs recognize their need for financial resources. Working capital is often necessary to craft a prototype, rent a commercial space, or hire first-time employees. For some prospective business owners, this may involve taking out a business loan to cover initial costs. For others, it may mean creating a plan for setting aside the money needed to start a business for the next several years.

Working capital is valuable, but so is time. Most entrepreneurs have to navigate crafting their vision while working another job in the interim; developing a business of any kind requires a commitment of more than mere minutes.

Lastly, you may also turn to others—friends, colleagues, business partners—to bring your ideas to fruition. It's important to assess who's all in in this department and who will require more incentive to join the collaboration.

Be honest about this question. If you find you don't have the immediate resources to accomplish your vision, don't fret. There are plenty of solutions: time (for one), loans, and patience.

Am I prepared for unanticipated challenges?

According to a recent study, 90% of startups fail. Ouch. That can be a tough statistic to swallow, especially if you are entering a rather competitive market from the outset.

Failure is not the only challenge you'll face in some capacity as an entrepreneur. Other obstacles may surface, including financial difficulties and unsuccessful product launches. Take a moment to consider what challenges you can anticipate with realizing your vision—are you prepared to meet them?

I'm not just talking about financial setbacks, here. A lot of startups face failure or dwindling profit margins due to lack of market savvy, timeliness (or lack of timeliness), and/or an absence of creativity or thinking outside the box.

What tools do you have at your disposal to face challenges? Are you eager to navigate obstacles with an open mind?

Who is my target audience?

This question is easiest to answer once you've spent some time formulating your ideas. Knowing who you wish to cater to as an entrepreneur can help you direct your vision more swiftly.

Of the millions of consumers, professionals, and citizens out there, who are you catering to? Most specifically, what need are you attempting to reach? How does your vision resolve a problem or issue and what improvements does it offer (of any kind)?

Identify your target demographic. Then spend time getting to know them. This may be incredibly easy; it may feel impossible. In either case, developing your vision with your audience in mind can give it the legs it needs to run and then sprint.

What's my Plan B?

A lot of prospective business owners neglect to answer this question, because it suggests that their vision may fail. Yet not having a realistic alternative to an entrepreneurial plan could have immense consequences, and not only financial.

I'm not saying you should throw yourself into two separate ideas. But do have a rough approximation of what your other options are. Sometimes Plan Bs become the ultimate Plan As.

Bonus: Would I be happier doing anything else?

Enough said. Being an entrepreneur is tough work. The ones who succeed throw their hearts and minds into what they do—they can't envision doing anything else. If you're happier doing something else, do that instead.

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