There’s this unwritten rule that you’re supposed to settle down in your twenties. College? Check. Job? Check. Apartment? Check. Okay, time to find your soulmate and spend the next sixty years of your life in marital bliss.
People panic more if they’re single and in their twenties. Like oh, you didn’t meet the love of your life in college? The clock is ticking. Better hurry. Thirty looms ahead like a finish line, and the only way to win is to cross it with a husband and a baby.
This is the age when people start telling you to be more sensible. Logical. “Think about the sort of person you want to marry,” they say. But how much of that is what we actually want, and how much is just what society tells us to do? It isn’t said directly, of course, but the average age for a woman to get married in the US is 27 years old. That’s reasonable, but think about it. The average couple dates for two years before a proposal, and then waits about one year before getting married. So, that means you should probably meet the love of your life by the time you’re 24.
Because obviously everyone knows exactly what they want out of life at 24. No pressure.
Sometimes I wonder if so many marriages don’t work out because people end up getting married just because they’re “supposed to”. Well, we’ve been together for a few years. We live together. We’ve got a dog. Guess the next step is to tie the knot. Because we’ve invested in this relationship. And this is what people do. Suddenly you’re 28 and it feels like the person you’re with now is the one you should marry – not necessarily because they’re “the one”, but because you are 28 and in a relationship, and by default it must mean the person you’re with is the right person for the long haul. Because otherwise you’d have to start over, and who wants to do that?
There are, of course, plenty of wonderful, successful marriages that start out when both people are very young. But I look at myself, and what I want out of life, and I can’t imagine settling down anytime soon. And maybe that’s because I almost did, once, and the idea is now far more terrifying to me as a result of getting so close to it in the first place. Instead of being at a place in my life where I’m looking for that person, instead I’m at a place where I’d rather like to avoid them, because I don’t want to go down that road again for a loooong time.
I admire people who have everything together and know exactly what they want by the time they’re in their early or mid twenties. But I’m not one of those people. One day I want a house and couple of kids, the next I want to fly off to Europe without anything holding me back. I don’t want stability right now, outside of knowing that I’ve got a job I love and a good place to call home. I don’t want a routine. I don’t want too many quiet nights at home. I want to fly by the seat of my pants, and if someone wants to fly along with me, that’s great.
But I sure as hell won’t stay on the ground for anyone.