Last week was certainly an emotional and crazy week in my life.
Last Wednesday, Sept. 18, I turned 22. The following Saturday was my sweet and beautiful big’s wedding. Watching her walk down the aisle surrounded by family and friends, glowing in white, I completely choked up. She has been such a wonderful friend, influence and impact that I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed at the joy I felt for her. Standing next to her as a bridesmaid, I was able to partake in one of the most joyous and important days of her life.
At both occasions I was met with the typical “When are you going to get married, Alex?”
Whether blowing out my candles or sitting at a wedding reception, it seems I couldn’t escape the prying eyes of those around me or the expectations so blatantly placed on my young shoulders.
While my boyfriend of over a year awkwardly chuckled and I quickly mumbled off my plans to attend graduate school next fall, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is everyone getting married, leaving me an old maid at 22, or is there some proof out there that I’m not the only one waiting to say I do?”
Despite what my Facebook may depict, with over half the girls I went to high school with announcing engagements, marriages and babies (not necessarily in that order), according to the U.S. Census Bureau, I am not alone in my single life, with the marriage rate at all all-time low. Only 51% of people were married in 2011.
A survey conducted in 2010 by Pew Research showed that about six-in-10 men and women who have never married before hope to one day walk down the aisle. However, no one seems to be in a hurry. The median age in 2011 for first marriage was at a record high with men at 29 and women at 27 according to census data. This is maybe most shocking compared to census data for the early 1980s with the median age for men being 25 and 22 for women.
My decision isn’t one that reflects a terribly broken home or a deep-rooted hatred of men. Despite my mother’s young age (she was only 18) when she got married, she still earned a degree and went on to accomplish wonderful things in her life. My parents have been married nearly 26 years, and I love both of them dearly. They are my biggest supporters and fans, always helping me to grow and achieve. Certainly their marriage has taught me what it means to honestly be together through sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, and through the birth of four girls, which has to be more insane than getting married.
When I’m asked why I’m not actively seeking a ring, I can really only say it’s my perfectionist tendencies and a need to achieve higher education. As a young girl I pretended to be a princess with my dad playing the role of the handsome prince, but I also dreamed of owning my own house and personal library.
Maybe holding off on marriage to achieve these goals isn’t such a bad idea.
In the 2010 Pew Research survey, half or more people said there is no difference between being married or single in being financially secure, finding happiness or getting ahead in a career. The only advantage, according to the public, is that raising a family is easier for a married person than a single one.
After my research, I feel infinitely better in my choices.
Like one of my favorite Disney princesses said, “One day my prince will come.”
Once he gets here he will just have to wait in his castle for me to finish school and get a job, so I can be the happy, independent princess I always wanted to be, but I won’t be opposed to using his paycheck to build that personal library.