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Engagement Season: New Year, Same Expectations

The beginning of a new year has always been a time to make resolutions and fresh starts, but, as we all grow out of our childhood and into young adults, the end of the holiday season means something else: engagement season. I’m sure you’ve seen multiple ring pictures and changed relationship statuses to ‘engaged’ on Facebook during the past weeks.  Along with all the announcements of engagements and marriages, another thing has been shared dozens of times along my newsfeed. The blog post “23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23” has been getting a lot of attention, both positive and negative. The writer does not believe that a person is developed enough by their early 20’s to settle down into holy matrimony. She does, however, believe that marriage is being used as a “cop out” by young couples who are too scared to face the world on their own.

That sentiment seems a bit harsh (I know my young, married friends on Facebook thought so), but the author was not very far from the truth.  Though I definitely do not agree with everything she said (like calling pregnant women fat or insinuating that eating an entire jar of Nutella has more meaning than marriage), the fact that women are expected to marry still remains. We have learned from a young age to correlate happiness with marriage and relationships. Think back to some of your favorite childhood movies: the pretty girl marries the prince and the hero gets the girl. Their lives are complete once the wedding bells chime and they ride off into a happily ever after. While marriage is great for some people, it isn’t the right decision for everyone. Unfortunately, society still puts a lot of emphasis on marriage.  From television shows to Pinterest boards, we are immersed in wedding culture.

This has to be stated clearly: you do not have to get married, by any age or even at all. You are not less of a person if you don’t have a rock on your ring finger before you graduate college. You aren’t lacking in any way if you don’t get excited about wedding dresses and color patterns. And if your heart flutters at the idea of walking down the aisle, that’s fine too, but it’s not fine to be coerced by society into marrying someone. 

Do not get married because

1.       you’re expected to do so.

2.       you don’t know what else to do.

3.       your boyfriend proposed

Marrying young is fine if that’s what you have envisioned for your life and if you are truly ready to take on the responsibility.  However, if you feel as though you need to get married for any other reason than your feelings of overwhelming love for your partner, I would advise you to reevaluate. Make sure that you’re mature enough for marriage, that you’re not being pressured by any outside source, and that you’re definitely not rushing things. If you feel that marriage is the next step for you, great, but just keep in mind it’s not the only step. 

Katie is a sophomore studying English Literature and Anthropology at Mercer University. When not reading for her classes, she is still reading for pleasure! Katie is a major bookworm whose dream in life is to simply read all day (but, unfortunately, being a well-rounded reader doesn't pay the bills) or be a manatee princess...which isn't very realistic either. Other than books and manatees, Katie has a passion for song, piano, and nature. You can often catch her gazing at the clouds or looking up at tree branches. "The stars gleam, the poets dream..." -Jonathan Larson
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