The other day, while I sat in the Victoria’s Secret breakroom eating a snack, I overheard my 21-year-old coworker say, “I want to be married before I’m 24.” It fit into the context of the backroom processing conversation. Before I could say, “Nothing wrong with that,” one of my managers popped in with, “Girl, don’t get married before you’re 24! You’re so young! You have your whole life ahead of you!” Note that she is definitely under 24 and unmarried herself. She might even be younger than me.

I had to speak up. “Life doesn’t end when you get married…”

My manager said, “I’m not saying it ends, just that you can’t really do much anymore” while aforementioned coworker called out, “You know she’s married,” to her from the processing table.

Annoyed, I replied, “All you really can’t do anymore is date other people.”

“I don’t mean just dating people, I just mean, like, you’re married! You can’t go out and meet new people and travel and stuff.”

I stopped trying at that point. I knew arguing further would get me nowhere. I really didn’t care enough what she thought about marriage to try to convince her that her viewpoint was incredibly narrow. But what I wanted to say was that when you meet the right person, you don’t care about dating other people anymore. That won’t be something you miss. If you get married, it should be because you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, and only them. If you get married and then regret it, you probably shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.

And if getting married suddenly means you can no longer make new friends, travel, enjoy hobbies, maintain agency and autonomy, and fulfill your dreams, then honey, you have married the wrong person. Marry someone who wants to do life with you. Don’t compromise your hopes and dreams and goals for someone who doesn’t care about you being your own person. The right person will travel with you, make new friends with you, let you have your own friends, enjoy your hobbies with you or let you enjoy them by yourself, and will stick with you forever. Life does not end after “I do.” 

While I’m a big advocate of taking as much time as you need to make sure you’re ready and willing to be married before you make that commitment, but I’m also a big advocate of not telling other people how to live their own lives. If you believe that you’re ready to be married at 22, you understand what it means, and you really want it, then that’s great. If you don’t want to settle down until you’re 65, more power to you. As long as you don’t preach your personal philosophy on marriage to everyone else. Because life is so much easier when we live and let live.

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