Living, Laughing & Loving… while in debt.
If you had asked me at 16 where I thought I’d be at 24, I would have probably said engaged or married, and considering starting a family of my own. My mother was married at 24, and she had me around 28, which was actually considered older for the 80’s. But here I sit, 24 years young, and I’m not ready for any of that.
Do I feel 24? What is a 24 year old supposed to feel like? I definitely look about 21. And when I’m not wearing make-up, which is most of the time, there’s a good chance I could get carded for an “R rated” movie. And by could, I mean have…
Because of this, people often treat me as if I’m younger and I’ve wondered, over time, if that has ever had an effect on my cognitive age, or my self-perceived age. Then again, I do wake up every morning for a job that expects me to be on-time, efficient and responsible; I pay my own bills and do my own laundry, so these factors alone should squash any confusion or resistance I may have about how old I feel.
I do find it funny how often I receive tweets/posts asking: “when are you getting that ring,” or “when are you guys getting married,” since I have publicly been in a two-year relationship. It seems that in our culture, if you are in a multiple year relationship in your twenties and not hinting/expecting/begging for an engagement ring, you must be from outer space. This is something that I just don’t understand.
I sometimes wonder if it’s an old school concept to be married with children before your 30’s. With a huge population now attending four-year colleges, the tough job market and steadily increasing debt among young adults, I feel as if I can’t be alone in this theory.
Plain and simple: maybe times have changed, and expecting the same timeline of life events in a completely different world is not only unrealistic, but frustrating.
Now, I was never the girl who dreamt of her wedding day, or the girl who had images of her dress, her first dance or what color her flowers would be. I was a bit of a tom-boy growing up. I played soccer, was a black belt in karate and was the scorekeeper of my school’s wrestling team, so needless to say- I missed out on a lot of the fairy tale princess, fantasy stage. But, I did, and I continue to have, long monogamous relationships, relationships that I put a lot of my time and energy into. Only very recently though, has the thought of marriage even been a factor in my relationships, and it’s mostly because I feel that I’m at the age that I’m supposed to be considering it.
I have friends that are the same age as me who already feel as though their biological clocks are ticking because they are in the vicinity of 30. Sometimes it seems that women would rather be 35 and in an unhappy marriage than 35 and single because they haven’t met the right person yet, or don’t feel ready for marriage. But I don’t think that should be the case, and I don’t think that expectations built around age are necessary or healthy. I believe that you should get married when, and only when, you are emotionally and financially ready, and not because you’re scared to be an unmarried XYZ year old. I’ve obviously never been married, but I imagine rushing into a marriage before you’re completely ready is a divorce lawyer’s wet dream.
Bottom Line: As I get deeper into my twenties, I’m having a problem engaging in traditions that I feel like I’m supposed to be experiencing due to age, when I don’t feel necessarily ready. What are your thoughts on this? Are you one of those who are guilty of feeling like you need to adhere to the expectations of your age, or do you agree that maybe times have changed and if things are meant to happen, they will. Also, what other kinds of coming of age expectations do you feel pressure to adhere to? Let me know in the comments!
FYI: I set up an e-mail account firstname.lastname@example.org. I am going to start selecting e-mails to publicly reply to every Friday in my “Ask Heather” posts. Feel free to send me over questions about anything! Here are a few examples: student debt, college preparation questions, relationship questions, advice, MTV questions ect. If you’d rather me answer you privately, please state that clearly in the e-mail.
To all of you who have read my first three posts, Thank you! Please continue to spread the word to any of your friends/family who are facing the trials and tribulations of being a young adult in today’s world.