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23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23

As 2013 wraps up, I’ve been noticing more and more people getting engaged and/or married under the age of 23.

I get it.

It’s cold outside… you want to cuddle and talk about your feelings… life after graduation is a tough transition… so why not just cut to the chase and get married, right?  It’s hip. It’s cool. You get to wear clothing that wouldn’t normally be socially acceptable at the dive bar you frequent with the $5 beers.  Eff it. YOLO. YOMO! You only marry once…

Oh wait.

The divorce rate for young couples is more than twice the national average. Divorce is no longer a staple in a midlife crisis, but rather, something that SEVENTEEN Magazine should probably be printing on. Headlines could read,

“How to budget for your prom AND your wedding in the same year!”

“What’s HOT: Kids raising Kids.”

“Why your Mom doesn’t really know what she’s talking about.”

Because at the age of 22, I have no idea who I am, what I’m doing, and who I’ll be doing it with for the next year… let alone for the rest of my life.  And that’s awesome.

Some day, I want to get married too.  I want a floor length dress with a ton of cleavage.  I want it to be in Asia, with Ethiopian food, and a filthy scotch selection to calm my nerves when I inevitably start to panic and hyperventilate.  But WANT and NEED are two entirely different things. I NEED to develop MY dreams and MYSELF before I can truly be the type of woman you WANT to marry.

What inspired me to scribble down my feelings (so many feelings!) is The Facebook.  I’m seeing all of these notifications that “X and Y” have joined in matrimony and instantly, these waves of anxiety start to flow over me.  Should I be thinking about marriage? I’ve never even had a serious boy friend? Is there something wrong with me? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME AND WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT IT FOR ALL THESE YEARS!?

But then I look at my life, my relationships, and my future… and I realize that, I’m fucking awesome.  It literally isn’t me, it’s them.

I have begun to notice a common thread amongst all these young unions: inexperience.  Inexperience with dating, traveling, risks, higher education, career direction, SEX, solitude, religious exploration, etc… and it’s insane that I have already experienced more of the world in the last 22 years than my married peers will ever experience in their life.

I can’t help but feel like a lot of these unions are a 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.

Which could be tomorrow, because the LGTBQ community isn’t ruining the sanctity of marriage, the Kardashian family is.

If your love is truly eternal, what’s the rush? If it’s real, that person will continue to be committed to you 2 months from now, 2 years from now, and 2 decades from now. Grow, learn, travel, party, cuddle, read, explore. Do. Freaking. Something… other than “settle down” at 23 with a white picket fence.

Because you owe it to yourself.  You are a human being that deserves to thrive inside AND outside of a relationship.

We are not our parent’s generation.  I’m tired of hearing about how “my mom and dad got married young and X, Y and Z” because they were raised with a completely different set of values, priorities, and without the anxieties and adulterous risks that comes with the worldwide web.  I’m speaking directly to the Millennials.

Millennials deserve the opportunity to develop ourselves, alone.

I recognize that my opinion is not going to be popular on The Facebook… especially amongst those who fall into the “under 23” category.  I would be confused if I didn’t receive some sort of online backlash or a loss of friends on The Facebook.  Some how… I will move forward.

But in the words of my 15 year-old sister, “Sorry I’m not sorry.”

Sure.  Some days I wake up and stare at my ceiling thinking: “I’m single as fuck.”  But then I realize that those friends are going to get knocked up and fat soon sssoooo in retrospect, who really is winning here? I’m in China. I’m having the best time of my life. I am responsible for my own happiness.

Please enjoy these 23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23.

1. Get a passport.

2. Find your “thing.”

3. Make out with a stranger.

4. Adopt a pet.

5. Start a band.

6. Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too.

7. Get a tattoo. It’s more permanent than a marriage.

8. Explore a new religion.

9. Start a small business.

10.Cut your hair.

11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.

12. Build something with your hands.

13. Accomplish a Pinterest project.

14. Join the Peace Corps.

15. Disappoint your parents.

16. Watch GIRLS, over and over again.

17. Eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting.

18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.

19. Sign up for CrossFit.

20. Hangout naked in front of a window.

21. Write your feelings down in a blog.

22. Be selfish.

23. Come with me to the Philippines for Chinese New Year.

… because at the end of the day, I just gotta wander onwards. Wishing everyone whiskey and wanderlust during the holidays.

XOXO V

Jenny Martin

Wednesday 28th of October 2015

Loved this. I've done everything besides start a band (for obvious reasons) and go to New Years with you. Hit me up if you're in Asia 2016 though!

Emily

Tuesday 3rd of March 2015

You should re-read this blog after you get married and you will probably see how irrelevant it is.

Jordan H.

Sunday 7th of December 2014

Hi Vanessa! Your article is brilliant. I've been feeling this same exact way when I see people get married young. There is so much in the world to explore , so many people to meet, so many experiences to have, why get married now? We need to develop ourselves first and learn what honors us and what we truly want out of life and that only comes with time and experience. Why were we given a self if we werent meant to be at least a somewhat selfish? We should spend our 20s having fun and conquering our fears! I'll be starting my own journey abroad soon, thank you so much for the added inspiration.

Lindsey

Wednesday 3rd of December 2014

The truest sign of happiness (in my opinion) is finding joy in other people's successes as well as yours... not knocking them down in order to validate your personal journey.

I've done nearly all the things you've listed above aside from starting a band (I'd much rather see a concert than be on stage, maybe that's just me) and I've been happily married for a few years now. My husband was also instrumental in helping me launch my own small business at the age of 25 and many of the awesome experiences you've listed above have been shared with him... adopting a pet, getting a passport, traveling the world, trying new physical activities, etc.

Enjoy China and every single moment while in it, I sure am enjoying life as a married, young twenty-something. I hope you find your own inner-peace.

Rachel

Thursday 18th of September 2014

@ hullabaloosandcurlycues - on point girl- totally loved your post.