The first article I saw posted on Facebook was the following: 23 Things to do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23 by . (Pardon the language throughout, in other words, mom you probably shouldn't read it. ha.). I read it, laughed, agreed with her on some points, "liked" it, then promptly forget it existed. Until I saw the following response post that a different friend said she liked much more than the original: 24 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before You're 24, a Response. This article written by Taylor, was more than a little rude about the things that the first article listed as things to do before you are married. I started browsing through the comments on the blog and was suprised to find myself disagreeing with both blog post by the end of all this reading. So. Here you have it, my response: 23 Things to do Before You're 23...Married or Single.
I'm a 22 year old, single female, living in a state that has one of the lowest marriage ages for both men and women. Am I an old maid? Heck no. But does it sometimes feel that way with the number of relationship and engagements popping up on Facebook daily? Sometimes. It honestly does feel like Vanessa posted on her blog
What inspired me to scribble down my feelings (so many feelings!) is The Facebook. I’m seeing all of these notifications that “X and Y” have joined in matrimony and instantly, these waves of anxiety start to flow over me. Should I be thinking about marriage? I’ve never even had a serious boy friend? Is there something wrong with me? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME AND WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT IT FOR ALL THESE YEARS!?
But in the end, we are who we are and there is nothing that should hold us back from having a fulfilling life, married or unmarried. I think this is something that both posts failed to mention. Why do you only get a list of crazy, fun, service oriented, nerdy, etc, activities to do to feel fulfilled in life if you are single? I have some amazing friends and role models who are having more of those type of things happen in their life being married than I have been able to have while being single. Does that mean that either of our ways of life are better? Does that mean either of us are doing life wrong? I don't think so.
Maybe Taylor thought that Vanessa's list of things was too earthly, too "I can have whatever I want". But I also found Taylor's list to have a few flaws itself. Do I have a perfect list of the exact things someone should do to feel like they are making a difference or having fun while they linger on this little planet in the universe? No. And I would never try to pass anything I have to say as 100% true for anyone. Even myself.
But in the end I don't think it should matter if you are single, married, divorced, separated, have a boyfriend, or only have your cat to cuddle with at the end of the night. We all need something from time to time to help us feel like we are making it. Like we are not just surviving, but checking some things off our list of things to do. Maybe that means you eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting like Vanessa, or maybe that means you sponsor an orphan for a year like Taylor. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you are developing and becoming someone that you can love. Because how can someone else love you for who you are, (husband, boyfriend, friend, parent, sibling, future significant other) if you don't love yourself? Coming to truly love yourself is a lifelong pursuit in my opinion. And the times when I have felt that love of myself and of my life have often been the times I feel like I am fulfilling some life-long dream or desire.Those are also the times I feel the most able to open myself up and share that love by giving and sharing with others.
In the end, I don't think there needs or should be a set list of things you want to do before you get married. Why limit yourself in that way? Why do we have to feel like all our crazy plans have to go out the window as soon as we tie the knot? And why do we also sometimes feel like we can't truely be the person we are meant to be without someone else by our side? We are all so uniquely perfect and flawed. I think it's time for us to realize that inside of ourselves and maybe, you know, make a list of things we want to accomplish since that seems to be the theme of this time of year. Cat lady in training or otherwise...
So here is my list in no particular order. I don't expect it to be anyone elses list, and I'm not going to pretend that all of the things I want to accomplish in my life are selfless. But they are things I've always wanted to do, and maybe someday they will actually happen. Even if I have to wait until my honey and I are 83 years old instead of me accomplishing them as a single female at 23.
1. Write a Novel.
2. Tour Europe. All of it.
3. Cook a fancy four course dinner where everyone is required to dress up like in the olden days.
4. Sew a tailored dress that fits me perfectly.
5. Graduate from college and rebrand a company.
6. Go on a humanitarian aid trip to a third world country.
7. Swim with dolphins.
8. Hike the Grand Canyon.
9. Read every book written by C.S. Lewis.
10. Have an item of clothing I've designed be sold somewhere
11. Take a road trip to New York.
12. Sing a solo in front of a crowd with my guitar.
13. Learn how to play the piano.
14. See Rascal Flatts, and Missy Higgins in concert and sing every word to every song.
15. Help others become healthier any way I can.
16. Get married in the temple (yes I know this one is impossible to do while single)
17. Throw a suprise party that is actually successful.
18. Play ultimate frisbee on a beach somewhere.
19. Learn how to ski/snowboard.
20. Be in a community play/musical.
21. Serve a mission.
22. Get my interpriting license for ASL (American Sign Language)
23. Own a cat...maybe two.
There you have. In essence, Chelsea's Bucket List of Life.
Life is meant to be lived, not pined after, or wallowed in. Marriage has just as many challenges as being single. But it has just as many joys as well. We can learn from each other, grow from the stages of life we are in, and help others grow because we are all at different stages. How boring life would be if we all did the same things at the exact same time?
I think it's okay to be selfish sometimes and do something just for you. Watch Netflicks all day. Make your cake and eat it too. But we always need to remember to reign it in and thank those who have helped us get to where we are. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that everything happens when it should. Your story may include getting married at 19, or it might hold that chapter back for a little while. Either way, you have so much to offer this world and there is just so much to DO! It's overwhelming sometimes, especially when I try and do it all at once. But it makes life a joy to live. Because I'm single. And I'm awesome. And you might be married. And that's awesome. We are all just awesome and full of so much potential that we need to release to the world.
So will you do that with me?
Let's get out there and have some fun :)