Just a little.
Okay, maybe more than a little.
But seriously, am I the only twenty-something (and I am, for the record, a low twenty-something) who’s starting to notice that ALL of their friends are getting engaged/having kids/both (and sometimes not in the preferred order)?! It’s becoming some kind of weird diamond ring epidemic.
I’m not going to try to count the number of friends I have who have recently gotten engaged/had kids/all that fun stuff, because a) it probably isn’t as many as I currently think it is and b) it’s depressing. Who sent out the memo saying we have to rush-rush-rush through the life we’ve been given? What happened to the stories of high school sweethearts who dated throughout high school and for years afterwards before getting married? Next thing you know we’ll have kids–key word there being KIDS–getting engaged while at their prom!
I’m not being a prude and saying everyone should be at least thirty-five before they even consider marriage. Anyone who knows what I’m like will know “prude” is a word very rarely (read: never) used to describe me. I just wonder what happened to the world to make this generation so impatient, so frenzied that they have to rush blindly towards each one of life’s next great milestones as soon as they’ve reached one. Embrace it! Take what you have and enjoy it for what it is instead of seeking the quickest way to make it into the next big part of your life, because maybe it’ll be gone tomorrow and you’ll realize you never appreciated it properly. Despite how quickly this world has begun to move, patience and perseverance are still valued traits, so slow and steady can still win the race if you ask me.
I’m also not saying that all of these people are idiots for getting engaged at a young age. I’m sure some of them will result in rockers-on-the-front-porch, watch-the-grandkids-play-on-the-lawn kinds of bliss. But I’m equally sure that some will end in tears and pain and bitterness, and maybe they’d end that way no matter what, but maybe they wouldn’t end that way if more time had been taken. The world’s a big place; the simple truth is that try as we might, we may not meet our soulmates within our first quarter century of living. Sometimes we have to look harder and put some years behind us. And that shouldn’t cause us too much distress. The happier you are with yourself, the happier you’ll make someone else.
Now. Here is the potentially awkward bit where I admit that I’m not exactly sure WHY all of these engagements have me freaked. Is it because so many of them are, like me, in their low twenties and my brain is going “WHOA what are you doing you’re only [insert age here] are you INSANE?!” Or is it because I’m catching myself thinking that I wouldn’t mind a pretty diamond ring from my guy?
To be honest, I’m not sure. Something I CAN say with complete and utter certainty is that if he WERE to pop the question anytime soon, I’d happily say yes, and I’d like to think we’d have a pretty damn good shot at making it work. While this is the first relationship I’ve ever been in, he’s made me incredibly happy, and we had the advantage when starting out of having known each other as friends for five years. We knew each other’s habits already. I never worried about him seeing me look like a mess because the guy has seen me at my utter worst and been there for me through it all. We never had to play the silly, shy, “no, I don’t want you to see me like this!” games new couples play because he knew me already. And the nearly two years since we decided to start dating have been my happiest. The form of happiness that comes from knowing someone out there in the world cares that deeply for you and is thinking of you is one of the simplest and purest.
So, if he were to propose, say, tomorrow, I’d accept, say yes, and immediately become a giant hypocrite after all this freaking out. (I mean, c’mon, a blog post about it? Yeah, I’m freaking.) But the only reason I can say this so comfortably is because we’ve had that time. We took our time being friends, even when EVERYONE (we lived in a small town, so I literally do mean EVERYONE) told us we should be dating–or, my personal favourite, simply assumed we were. Thinking of him as anything other than one of my closest friends just didn’t occur to me. We changed the relationship dynamic when WE were ready and not before. And yeah, it’s working for us. I’m now one of those lucky bitches who gets flowers for no reason and gets told by her friends that she found a keeper. I have the boyfriend who doesn’t shy from commitment but instead openly admits to having daydreamed about our future together–marriage, kids, the whole shebang. I’m aware of how incredibly blessed I am and believe me, I don’t take it for granted. I’m thankful every day that I was lucky to stumble across the person I want to share life’s milestones with at such a young age.
And yeah, I know that we’ve been dating long enough and are getting to the age where family will start cracking jokes about when we’ll be getting engaged too. But you know what? We’re enjoying dating right now. Due to school, all but three months of our nineteen-month relationship has been from a long-distance point of view. I admit, it has its serious downsides. The upsides (infrequent leg shaving, girls?) of not having him here don’t come close to outnumbering the downsides for me. But he has a job in his city this summer, and we’ll both have graduated, so I’m moving up there. Not moving IN WITH him. Just moving to the same city he’s in, because we both agree going from a long-distance relationship to living together in one leap is a bit too intense. So, thanks but no thanks, we’ll just get used to being closer to each other first. We didn’t listen to them when we were just friends. Why change that system now when it’s obviously working for us?
My point, I think, is this: if you’re one of those people who’s already engaged while young, good for you, and I really, truly do wish you all the best at making it work. Do all that you can to make each other happy and run for those milestones hand in hand. But if you’re in a relationship with an incredible boyfriend/girlfriend/inflatable doll (hey, I don’t judge!) and are fantasizing about the day they become your fiance/fiancee/mail order bride, keep fantasizing. Daydream about the amazing future you’ll have together. Picture what your kids will look like. Imagine growing old together (and, if you’re like me, playing bumper wheelchairs in the nursing home).
Just don’t forget to cherish the present. Notice the little quirks that make you smile. Save the card each time he sends you flowers. Go on random day trips and make memories that will last forever, and treasure the person whose life you’re sharing. Because if you’re so focused on getting to those milestones and making it to those rocking chairs on that porch together, you’ll forget to make the memories you’re supposed to reminisce about when you get there.
PS: Should my guy happen to propose tomorrow, I’ll be sure to let you know. 😉