On the 23 Things…

You’ve probably seen the “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23” post.  Reactions to this post have been from standing ovations to abject horror (see Take #3).  Some people will tell you that this post is a triumph for young women.  Others will tell you it’s a symptom of everything that’s wrong with society.  [Full disclosure: I got engaged at 23.  I’m in my thirties now, and my husband and I are still happily married.]

I disagree with both.  As I said in the comments of Leila’s blog:

“This young woman, who is probably surrounded by engaged/newly married people, sick to death of all the wedding talk, and freely admits that she isn’t ready for marriage, wrote a lighthearted post about things to do before getting engaged with a few offhand comments about things she does that her married friends can’t do. She’s venting – only this and nothing more.”

Put yourself in her shoes for a moment:

First one of your friends gets engaged, and you’re excited for her.  She and her fiancé are going to be so happy, hooray!  And she talks about her wedding a lot, but whatever, she’s just excited.  And then another one of your friends gets engaged, and they talk about weddings a lot, but no big deal, once they have their weddings, this will pass.  And then it’s another friend.  And then a coworker, and another coworker, and your older cousin, and your younger cousin, and seemingly all your Facebook friends.  And after awhile it seems like everybody on Earth has forgotten how to talk about current events or politics or TV or movies or music or sports, because the only thing on everybody’s mind is WEDDINGS.  And you have nothing to say on the subject.  it’s not that you’re against marriage or you don’t like married people.  You’d like to get married someday too, but for various reasons, you’re just not ready.  And even if you did feel ready for marriage, you still wouldn’t be getting married because you don’t even have a boyfriend!  So you go on your blog and vent about it, and remind yourself that you still have a pretty good life, and there are a lot of things you can do that your married friends can’t.

Or to put it another way:

First one of your friends gets pregnant, and you’re excited for her.  She and her husband are going to be so happy, hooray!  And she talks about her pregnancy a lot, but whatever, she’s just excited.  And then another one of your friends gets pregnant, and they talk about babies a lot, but no big deal, once they have their babies, this will pass.  And then it’s another friend.  And then a coworker, and another coworker, and your older cousin, and your younger cousin, and seemingly all your Facebook friends.  And after awhile it seems like everybody on Earth has forgotten how to talk about current events or politics or TV or movies or music or sports, because the only thing on everybody’s mind is BABIES.  And you have nothing to say on the subject.  it’s not that you’re against babies or you don’t like parents.  You’d like to have a baby someday too, but for various reasons, you’re just not ready.  And even if you did feel ready for parenthood, you still wouldn’t be having a baby because you can’t get pregnant!  So you go on your blog and vent about it, and remind yourself that you still have a pretty good life, and there are a lot of things you can do that your parent friends can’t.

I certainly don’t think that everybody should do everything on the list prior to getting married.  There are some things on the list I think are morally wrong (making out with a stranger, dating two people at the same time).  The fact that she included silly things like eating a whole jar of Nutella says to me that she’s just letting off some steam – and I completely understand.

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One response to “On the 23 Things…

  1. I finally just read that post, and I like your balanced take on it. Yes, I agree that there are things on there that no one should do, and I agree with another post that I read that there’s no reason to vilify marriage while looking at things that she likes about being single, but you have a very good point that she was likely just venting. As to some of the things that she sees as advantages of being single, I see as being a product of her culture.

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