Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
According to my Facebook, which obviously contains all of the answers of the world as well as questionable statistical information, every twenty-something can be categorized by their relationship status. And, the married-or-single dichotomy is definitely alive: My timeline is a schizophrenic hodgepodge of Pinterested recipes followed by cat memes, naked baby butts vs. amateur modeling spreads, and sparkling left hands perched across men’s chests right above Vegas photo albums. My generation is torn between “growing up” and staying 21 forever. Marriage is viewed as a sign of maturity for some, and a lifetime sentence for others. Being the only single girl left in your group of friends from high school can either pathetically depressing or incredibly liberating. And, just about everybody has their opinion on whether you should stay single in your twenties, or get married young.
Some single twenty-somethings are too young to get married. They have so much left to see and do, and they could not imagine having to kiss the same person every morning or miss out on a blackout night at the hippest new dive bar. You know them — your perpetually single “Everyone is getting married and having babies and I’m just over here drinking a margarita” status-posting girlfriend. They want to travel, avoid responsibilities, and focus on their dream of making it in the ____ industry before they could even consider settling down. And, don’t even get them started on babies, because they are never having children. At least not in the near future.
Meanwhile, the married percentage of Facebook is a real rub-it-in-your-face-crowd, posting kissy face photos alongside mediocre Instagrams of home-cooked dinners and 15 different–but-the-same photos of new baby Joe in various outfits and locations. They have “big girl jobs” and family dogs and have traded guzzling Coors Light for expensive reds with complimentary cheese plates. You held her hair while she was throwing up in the bathroom during 2-for-1’s, and now she is throwing Pampered Chef and Scentsy parties.
There's a sort of tension between these conflicting lifestyles — a rivalry of sorts. Singles hold their destiny in their own hands; their opportunities are limitless. Marrieds have a jump start on the future, because who wants to be 50 when your kids finally leave the nest?
I’m here to let you in on a big secret: Your relationship status does not define who you are or what you do with your life. Sure, relationships — or lack thereof — shape and influence our lives. But, in the end, we decide what kind of person we are going to be and what we want to accomplish with the time that we have.
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Full disclosure: I’m twenty-something, and I’ve been married for three years. Before that, I was single for my entire life. I may not be qualified to give advice on marriage or relationships or life, but I think that I've gained some valuable perspective. And, while I could write an article about how wonderful young marriage can be, how incredibly not “grown up” or “tied down” or “limiting” it can be, that's been done before. And, there are certainly dozens of other articles about why you shouldn’t get married at a young age, for single people. Because who doesn’t love to read a piece that pats you on the back and makes you feel like you’ve got it all figured out?
Well I think those articles are bulls**t. The writer is assuming that they know what is best for you. And, maybe they’ve got statistics and studies and countless examples on hand, but what they don’t have is your mind. Your heart. Your life experiences, goals, challenges and aspirations. They don’t know you.
We should know by now that nobody is perfect. Nobody has all the answers, and there is no right path. You can try to plan out your life, but I guarantee that life will get in your way. Just because you’re 30 and single doesn’t mean that you’ll end up with a houseful of cats, just like being married at 22 doesn’t mean you can’t see the world. Do what you want!
We have to stop measuring our lives according to society’s expectations or the eyes of our peers. What is right for one woman is not right for her best friend. Assuming that you are more enlightened than someone with the opposite relationship status is just downright ignorant. I don’t know the meaning of life, but I bet that you won’t find it when you are comparing your life to someone else’s. So, let’s just live and let live, okay guys?
Kaleh Sapp is a Minnesota native currently living in coastal Georgia where people make fun of the way she pronounces “bag”. She works at a German restaurant as the only person who doesn’t speak German. In her spare time, Kaleh enjoys writing, drooling over Pinterest recipes, and taking pictures of her dog. You can follow her on twitter @seventyx7 and on Tumblr.
This post originally appeared on HelloGiggles: Your Relationship Status Does Not Define Who You Are.