Thursday, January 9, 2014

23 Things to do Instead of Worrying About Other People's Engagements on Facebook

By now you've probably heard about the young expat blogger who wrote the infamous post, "23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged at 23". I'm sure you can guess the gist of this post-a list of 23 superficial things to do to prove single life is like, soooo much cooler than "copping out" of real life and being old, boring, married, and settled down.

Like, totes uncool.

Look, I get it. I was 21 once. I wanted to travel, dangit! See the world! Do my thang! Not be tied down by some guy who would condemn me to a life of suckiness and boredom and missed opportunity. To me, at that age, marriage was NOT something I wanted AT ALL. It sounded like a prison sentence, like a cage, like an actual ball and chain. I ran far, far away from any guy who even hinted at commitment or anything I saw as a threat to my freedom.

During college, I traveled. I moved to France and to Germany. I learned languages and made friends and got an education. I worked at coffee shops and memorized my regulars' drink orders. I went out with friends and sang at gigs with the band I was in and baked cookies. I lived my life thinking, I like the person that I am and the life I live. When I find the person who makes my life even better, then I'll make sacrifices for him. But if he ain't that guy, I'm going to keep on doing my thing.

Doing my thang at 20

By my senior year of college, I had met enough guys to start to feel slightly worried. None of them were right for me. Maybe I was going to be a lonely historian with a bunch of cats! Maybe I would be alone forever. Maybe I was doing it all wrong? Wasn't there some sort of script I was supposed to be following?

Here is where I was wrong, this girl is wrong, and lots of other people are wrong. There is no script. When we start looking at our lives and getting upset and saying, 'Shouldn't I be married by now?' or 'Shouldn't I be backpacking the Himalayas trying to find myself right now?' or 'Shouldn't my life be perfect right now?', the truth is, everyone is on their own path. Some people meet their soul mate at 22 while someone else is finding their calling as a small business owner. Another person is delaying their dreams to focus on getting out of debt. One person is going to med school while another is enjoying being a barista. Someone moves to Europe to chase a dream while someone else fulfills their dream of owning their own house in their small town in South Carolina. We're all doing our own thing and no one has the "right script". 


Following my script at 21

We get so many conflicting messages every single day. If you're settling down you hear, "Your twenties are the time to live it up! Travel the world! Screw responsibility! You can't know what you want now!" But as soon as you embark on your trip of self discovery, you hear "Settle down! Why aren't you married yet? Those eggs aren't gettin' any younger!" 

Don't get caught up in the tyranny of the should. Worse, don't let your jealousy or feelings of uncertainty cause you to lash out at people who are on their own path. If someone you know gets engaged at 23 and they are a normal, loving couple (not some crazy hot mess that's bound for the Maury show...but that's a different kettle of fish altogether) be happy for them! Don't throw divorce statistics in their face or make snarky comments or write mean blog posts about how you're so much better because you're not going to be "fat and pregnant within a year". Just say "Congrats!" and focus on your own life. 

Interning at 22

Honestly, if someone else's life makes you upset and insecure, that's YOUR problem, not theirs. Don't tear them down just to make yourself feel better. Besides, no one's life is perfect, especially when you're basing your knowledge of their life based on what you see on Facebook. Everyone has their struggles, and just because you get married/get a good job/move abroad doesn't mean your life will suddenly be rainbows and sunshine. Life will never be perfect. If you don't believe that, maybe you ought to read this article...

What 23 looked like for me and Fionn

Life is unpredictable. I never in a million years thought I would meet my future husband at 22 and be married at 23. If you had known me even a month before I met Fionn, you wouldn't have believed it either. But as the saying goes, "Man plans and God laughs", Fionn came out of nowhere and my whole world changed. 

Marriage was not scary or awful or boring like my silly 21-year-old self thought. It's actually awesome. Having Fionn in my life is great. We learn from each other, we challenge each other, and we support each other. My life at 25 is not what I thought it would be at 21, but it's better. Sure, I gave up some things (compromise is the backbone of any relationship), but I've been given opportunities I never thought possible. I've learned to be less selfish and more giving. I learned to really love another person. I've become braver and more confident to follow my dreams and interests. I have a partner through all life's ups and downs. Getting married young hasn't kept us from seeing the world, having fun, or experiencing crazy new things. Being married is actually pretty great.

I'm not going to write 23 things to do instead of worrying about other people's engagements on FB since I could probably sum the whole list up with "Get off FB and quit making yourself crazy", but if you've got an idea, let me know! :)

Just do your thing, everyone. Make your own script. Live the life you've got.

And for goodness sake, there's enough meanness in the world without adding more to the blogosphere.

25. Married. Thirty countries and counting. Not boring. :)



18 comments :

  1. You are wonderful. This post is pure awesome. I had chills while reading it and tears when I got to you and Fionn. It's such a lovely, real, levelheaded response. Now I'm more sad you're leaving. I hope you keep blogging so I can continue to follow your journey!

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    1. Aww thank you :) I'm just tired of seeing all the hatin' going back and forth when there's no "right" answer. And plus I just know way too many awesome married expat bloggers who're living pretty amazing lives and not being total lame-os like the original girl implied. I'll definitely be continuing the blog stateside! :)

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  2. Thanks for this post! I admit that I'm one of those people who questions young marriages because at my college it seems like as graduation nears all of the girls panic if they haven't nailed down a man and feel like they didn't do college right because they aren't walking across the stage with a ring on their finger. But everyone has their own path and their own timeline and I truly hope that those weren't the real reasons they got engaged because that is a horrible reason to begin the rest of your life with someone.

    Anyways I said all of that to say thank you for your perspective! Life is going to have its ups and downs whether or not you are single or married.

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    1. Very true! That's an awful reason to get engaged and sadly it does happen. But it just shows that they're going by someone else's timeline for their life...who says you have to be engaged by senior year? Like, seriously WHO is this person that commands you? Tyranny of the should in action.

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  3. Wonderful post, very eloquently said and while I was 25 when I was married I too never saw my life like that when I was younger and everyday I am so happy for how it turned out.

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  4. No, definitely not boring!
    I think, "there is no script", is some of the best life advice out there :)

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  5. I love this... I've read that blog and a whole lot of responses to it, most of which attack the original author, but I love this and your approach. I totally agree, there is no script. I think so much stems from a misunderstanding of what marriage is like... the idea that one has to stop growing, loving, exploring, thinking etc.

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    1. Exactly! I talked with my friends here (all my age and married young) and one of them had a great point about how our society sees marriage as the "capstone, not the cornerstone" of life. Why do they imply that life is so much better alone?

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  6. Shannon, amen to all of the above! I love the idea of not getting "caught up in the tyranny of the should." That's the surest way to make yourself miserable--especially since the root of that is comparison with idealized versions of life. Totally not sustainable! You guys are awesome :)

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    1. So true! When I find myself asking "Shouldn't I be doing...xyz.." that's always a red flag. WHO am I allowing to dictate my life?

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  7. I found your blog from Belinda! I LOVED this post so much, not only did it knock some sense into me but it's also so true. I'm 23, just graduated university, and 90% of my Facebook feed is of classmates my age or younger engaged, married or having their second kid. I won't lie- it gets frustrating. But then I look at my life just like you said to do- I'm single, living at home to save money and STILL trying to figure out what the heck I want to do with my life…and I kind of want to figure those things out first, before I meet someone. Now if I meet someone next week I'm not gonna complain ;) But anyway…wonderful blog and post! Good luck with packing for your move back to the US!! xx

    mysmallrayofsunshine.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm so glad you found it helpful.I read a great book called "The Defining Decade: making the most of your 20s" by Dr. Meg Jay. She pointed out that people start their adult life with a person, a place, or a passion-for a job, a dream, whatever. Everyone starts with something different! Maybe you'll start with chasing your passion and end up finding your person. Just stay true to yourself! :)

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  8. Yes, there is no script. I really like your response here, and I think it's one that we can all be reminded of periodically through life when we start making comparisons to others. =)

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    1. I've already had to remind myself not to compare about ten times this week haha. Comparison truly is the thief of joy.

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  9. dude! this post rocks, you seriously couldn't be more right. In fact, I find myself a lot happier and content when I take FB breaks. haha. go figure! I'm so excited I found your blog - Ive already added you to my daily reads. lol.

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    1. haha sometimes I think FB was created just to make us all more frustrated...I need a break from it every now and then too. Glad you enjoyed the post and very happy you stopped by! :)

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