“Yes, I married young. No, I’m not pregnant.”
I have found myself rhyming off these words countless times over the past three years. When I ended up with a ring on my finger at nineteen years old and a march down the aisle at twenty, I had many people questioning my intentions.
“Don’t you want to travel? Have a career? Most people are waiting these days, you know.”
Yes, I know.
In a world where independence seems to be the coveted status to obtain, many people have been confused with my willingness to enter into a seemingly dependent situation so early on. When we first announced our engagement some even thought that we must have been expecting a baby. They simply could not rationalize why I might actually want to be married without ‘experiencing life’ first.
What these people fail to realize, or perhaps never had the pleasure of experiencing themselves, is that marriage at a young age can actually allow you to experience life in a broad, fulfilling capacity. I do not feel that I have sacrificed my independence, or have needed to grieve the loss of my freedom during these early years of marriage.
In reality, being married at a young age has actually required me to grow and flourish as an individual more than I may ever have had the opportunity to do while single. I have had the chance to make financial decisions, education choices and take moral stands alongside someone who challenges, questions, and celebrates me. I have learned patience in the midst of differing opinions, joy in the little triumphs (like actually staying on budget this month), and how to serve someone else even when everything in me wants to be selfish.
You see, what I have realized is that no matter what stage in life you are in, there is always a different place or opportunity that someone else may think best for you to pursue. If you are single you may find yourself in multiple conversations a week of you aunt/friend/sister/great-grandmother knowing someone who knows someone who would be just perfect for you. If you are early in your married days you may find yourself being reminded of that ticking clock. People might have an opinion about the number of children you have, when you buy a home, or any other number of things that seem to have an appropriate timeline in the mind of others.
I have learned that no matter what decisions you make in your life, the most important factor is not what someone else thinks, but what is actually best for you. Seek out positive relationships and be selective of who you let speak into your life. There will never be the perfect, ideal timeline for everything and that is okay.
Maybe you are backpacking through Iceland, pursuing a career in medicine or living under your parents’ roof. Maybe you are married with several kids, divorced and looking for a fresh start, single and loving life. I choose to look to you and cheer. Embrace the place you are in, whatever it looks like. And as you do, I ask that you cheer for me too.