I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling pretty devastated that the first day of spring has come and gone and I don’t have a single engagement ring to show for it. Well, maybe not devastated, but the topic of marriage has no doubt been a hot topic in my life as of late. I have two sorority sisters getting married soon after graduation and a family friend who just got engaged Leap Year-style. Not to mention, I may or may not have stayed up until 2 a.m. Saturday night watching the marriage episode of Chelsea Handler’s new series Chelsea Does with tears in my eyes. What I’m trying to say is, that despite my being aggressively single, I consider myself an expert on the topic of all things related to tying the knot.
While the College of William and Mary might not be a school where Mrs. degrees are all that common, I still think there’s a lot of pressure to shack up. With traditions like walking across the Crim Dell Bridge and the College’s weirdly high rate of students who marry other students, it’s no wonder that being ring-less on this campus can make you feel a little bit like Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 Dresses. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
As students, we’re all goal oriented. We have career goals and aspirations that we work tirelessly to complete. And it’s hard not to find ourselves applying that same mentality to our personal lives, pressuring ourselves to meet our “better half” and walk down the aisle before we turn 25. But think about it; Chelsea Handler is 41, unmarried and the gal has hosted her own late night show, starred in her own Netflix documentary series and has written five books. The Wright Brothers, Leonardo da Vinci and our fave Sex and the City star, Kristin Davis, all have enjoyed single lives and still manage to have a lot to show for. So while our society still might put incredible pressure on us to get hitched, it really isn’t necessary to living a satisfying and accomplished life.
Speaking of societal pressures to get married, let’s chat about how dating, weddings and all things matrimonial have turned into a huge industry. Not only do you have sites like Match.com and eHarmony, there are matchmaking services — and not just of the Millionaire Matchmaking varieties — and reality show after reality show that all convince us that not only is marriage great, but that it’s also the key to happiness. Don’t let Say Yes to the Dress sway you into believing you’ll only be happy if you marry your high school sweetheart in a Pnina Tornai gown, because it’s just not true.
I know my self-worth will lie beyond my ability to please my partner in the kitchen and bedroom.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see myself getting married someday. If the thought of monogamy makes my heart flutter and my face turn red, I can only imagine how I’ll react once I settle into a lifelong commitment. And I watch shows like The Bachelor (yes, I was team JoJo) and Say Yes to the Dress like it’s my job, but I no longer believe that I’m destined to marry in the traditional sense. It’s fine to pretend that the fairytale romance is out there, but there’s no way I fit into that story anymore. I know my self-worth will lie beyond my ability to please my partner in the kitchen and bedroom. And by the looks of my saving accounts, I won’t be wearing Vera Wang down the aisle either.
The four years we spend at the College are extremely special because we exist in a limbo between childhood and adulthood. We’re learning how to be ourselves in an environment where mistakes can happen — and sometimes encouraged. While you might stumble into your soulmate one day, the goal of college shouldn’t be to find someone who’ll put a ring on it. So, next time your roommate tells you she met “the one,” don’t feel like you need to put yourself out there and start dating. Put yourself out there to have fun. Anyway, studies show people should be getting married between the ages of 28 and 32, not 18 and 21. You’ve got plenty of time to figure things out.