At the end of December, my phone buzzed with a text message from an old friend. The text included a link and said “Enjoy/use it for blog post material.” It was a link to Vanessa Elizabeth’s “23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23.” I figured the article was just another morsel of twenty-something sarcasm out in the big bad Internet world. So, I read it, laughed a lot and continued on with my life.
But, I was wrong. That article went viral.
A few days later, I saw “24 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response” run across my Facebook news feed. And, then I saw another response. I still didn’t think I would write about the article. I retweeted yet another response to the article entitled “I Got Engaged At 23 And I Have No Regrets” and labeled it “the most annoying thing ever published on the Internet.” This morning I noticed someone responded to that tweet of mine with, “Perhaps you need to get a grip. Not everyone has to wait until 45 before they want to make big moves in life.”
And that was when I knew I was definitely going to write about this article.
Also, yes, I stand by calling the aforementioned article the most annoying thing ever published on the Internet. I mean, what else would you call a piece that included this paragraph:
I am troubled that our culture associates married life with not fulfilling accomplishments; that as a woman or man, a ring on your finger means a noose on the neck of your career and your social life. This is absolutely untrue. Since marrying the man I love in October 2012, I have begun my climb up the corporate ladder, received professional awards, and started my Master’s degree. I continue to keep an active social life, volunteer as an English-as-a-Second-Language tutor, train for upcoming marathons and half-marathons, and travel as much as I can. I’m not bragging.
By definition, you are bragging your ass off, lady. See? Annoying.
The more I read about Vanessa Elizabeth’s article, the more I worried about the ability of our country to take a fucking joke. Because, that’s what it was. Yes, the article included statistics about the divorce rate for young couples. Yes, it included sentences such as, “Because you owe it to yourself. You are a human being that deserves to thrive inside AND outside of a relationship.” But, above all else, this was a witty, sarcastic and well-written piece–a combination that never gets old.
Vanessa’s article wasn’t an attack on anyone’s marriage, but it seems as though a lot of her naysayers, also pronounced haters, took it that way. Listen, no one really cares if you get engaged before you’re 23. I know plenty of people who have gotten engaged in their early twenties and I do not think any less of them for it. I’ve attended their weddings, gawked at their rings and “liked” their wedding pics on Facebook. I’ve admired them for having faith and taking that leap with the loves of their life. I’ve seen their love as inspirational, not pathetic.
Now, is it for me? Absolutely not. The age of 23 has come and gone and marriage isn’t close to being on my radar. I know I need space and time alone to sort through my demons, figure myself out and accomplish a few things. I’m working on having my own life pieces that won’t get swallowed up in the anatomy of a relationship. There are things I want to do before I take on the responsibility of building and nurturing a life-long partnership. Again, that is what I know works for me. But, I don’t have a right to shit on anyone’s personal life the same way no one should shit on mine because I’m single. The respect goes both ways. We all make choices and if we can go to bed at night and wake up in the morning happy with those choices, there’s not much else we can ask for.
That being said, my love for Vanessa’s article stems less from her musings on young marriage and more from the balls it took to write that. That is what good writing is–it has a voice. A point of view. Color. Good writing is just like a good outfit–some people will look at it and love it, others will hate it, but everyone will remember it. Vanessa wrote that blog post 16 days ago and it’s still setting the Internet world ablaze. I don’t really care if you hated that article; she won. My God, she won.