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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm Unmarried at 24: Here's Exactly What I'm Waiting For

MMMMMMMmmmmmmkay. So. There was this ghastly article Slate  published on April Fool's Day. I honestly thought it was a joke. It was titled, I'm 23 and Married: What are the Rest of You Waiting For? 

Of course, a slew of angry, accusatory comments generated beneath the article almost immediately after it was posted. A very political, anti-Conservative response appeared the next day. Which, honestly, really did nothing but affirm, perhaps, some reasons why that particular author was single.
I, too, am part of the population that grew up in a red state—Virginia was still red when I was a little girl—where marriage was certainly esteemed. My wise and loving parents infused the positive aspects of marriage into my young heart. Questions I would ask as a young woman would not be if I got married, but when.

My wise parents also infused another idea into my young mind:

"If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

I certainly don't have anything nice to say about the implications of this article by Mrs. Julia Shaw. But, see, I couldn't say nothing at all about it. So, here is my response, an attempt to say something strong and lovely, instead, about being 24
, and very unmarried.

Two years ago, I met a man I would have gladly married. He was tall, funny and had facial hair (my three absolutes when it comes to marriage-worthy qualities). He had a thick, Southern drawl. He was quite boyish, the way he stole kisses, and the way he danced with me in my apartment.
Shortly after I made the decision to love him, he changed. He began telling me what to wear. He became jealous, and violent. He gave me a new identity, frequently naming me a "liar" and a "whore." And since he had a Biblical reason for every carousel ride his abusive words and actions threw me aboard, I believed him. Wholeheartedly.

He would frequently tell me that women belong in the kitchen, and not the workforce. He habitually checked my Facebook, my texts and phone logs. Ultimately, the year I spent as his quasi-girlfriend (because, he didn't like labels, or want to be tied down), I was secluded from my friends and family who love me.

My romance with this young man (without getting into too much detail) ends with my joining the ranks of the statistical one-in-three women who will be assaulted in their lifetime. One in three, Mrs. Shaw.

Your article would imply that I made a mistake by not emptying my pockets of my single-girl disposable income to purchase a white, fluffy ball gown to don in order to marry this man. This man who did not cherish me, my soul, or the unique talents and relentless love I've been given. Your article would say that I should have abandoned what was dwindling of my self-worth, and marched heel-to-toe down the aisle on the arm of my blue-eyed father.

And, sister, you're one hundred percent wrong.

So, Mrs. Shaw, I'm thankful that your experience with your relationship has been a positive one. I'm thankful that you're not one of the one-in-three who has experienced abuse in your lifetime. But I would urge you to remember that for every married woman, there is a single woman who is putting on a brave face in a world that continually tells her that if she's not in a relationship, she is not good enough.

That is an absolute lie.

Yes, I have a dream to one day be married. But, being married is just one facet of the many dreams I have for my time on earth. During the time I spent healing from the end of that bad relationship, I pursued hard after my master's degree in journalism. I began writing the first draft of my first novel. I began a job that I love.

On top of that, I've kicked off my heels and danced at the weddings of my dear friends and family members who were ready (and consequentially, also 23 or younger) to make that commitment to their partners. Their marriages are beautiful and healthy. They're supportive. They're what I dream of.

They're what I'm waiting for.

In the meantime, I've been a bridesmaid. I've been a maid of honor. In a few weeks, I'll be a godparent to a yet-to-be-born Boston baby, who I already love with all of my heart. Are these things void because I am a woman who is patient for healing? Am I living life poorly, because I'm waiting for a man who cherishes me? Am I stupid, because I don't date men who do not honor or respect me?

Allow me to answer on your behalf with a resounding, emphatic, NO!

While the purpose of your writing may be to encourage our generation to rush to their "I-dos," the purpose of mine is to encourage single ladies. Women, like me, who have been deeply, repeatedly hurt in the pursuit of their dream of marriage.

I am waiting for God to work on my heart, so that I will be a woman worthy of being a wife. And I am waiting for a man who will treat me like he would treat his one-day wife. I'm waiting for a man who can't wait to start an adventure. Who will choose me. Who will invite me to coffee, and let me support, respect and honor him too.

Until then, I'll write for the women who are 24 and know exactly what they're waiting for.

photo credit: MightyBoyBrian via photopin cc


crtnybee15 said...

You, my dear, are a breath of fresh air. And my 29 year old single self thanks you immensely for this post. Cheers to you.

Brett said...

Cheers back at you, girlfriend! Hope you're doing well! Can't believe it's been a whole year!

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