Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No, I'm Not Engaged Yet.

A friend and I were recently having a friendly dialogue about an article we read from The Huffington Post entitled, "Let's Ban Weddings and, While We're at It, Baby Showers Too."

The author, Valerie Alexander, talks about the ridiculous pressure young women are put under to have successful jobs, marriages and babies.

Alexander asks her friends (many of them now divorced), "Hey, can I have back the thousands of dollars I spent being in your weddings? Because the wedding really is the problem, or more precisely, the desire for a wedding."

Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Weddings are expensive and full of (ridiculous) fanfare. And, coincidentally every girl dreams about their wedding, starting in preschool. Now thanks to Pinterest ... every little girl's "dream" is turned into a full-on circus with matching DIY chair signs, enormous centerpieces filled with flowers imported from Thailand and lace aisle runners hand-tatted by nuns in France.

And for some reason, I still want to get married. I haven't started the planning process yet, but I don't think I'll need imported flowers or out of control extras. I want to have a simple ceremony and a fun reception, where we can celebrate with all of our friends and family. But in the mean time, what if I just want to enjoy being Homeboy's girlfriend for a little while longer? Let us decide when we should get married. Graduating college came first, and luckily I have the diploma to prove it.

Earning that said diploma hanging on my wall was the hardest thing I've done to date. After graduation, I got a job and am using my degree working for a company I really believe in. Shouldn't that act be celebrated rather than minimized by you looking at my bare left hand and shaking your head or clucking your tongue?

Alexander brings up a good point, "And what if, as a society, we celebrated other milestones instead? Wouldn't it be amazing if college graduations were given the wedding treatment? If the commencement ceremony included a $3,000 dress and a $70-a-plate dinner for friends and family who came in from all over the country? Photographers, flowers, dancing, a band? "You've got to see my graduation video. It was so beautiful!" What would be the outcome if little girls had 32 television shows to watch about that? Would that give them something else to aspire to? To dream about?"


Homeboy and me on our recent trip to Maine.
And for some reason, I still want to get married. But you (yes, you well-meaning family members and friends) asking about when I'm getting an engagement ring isn't speeding the process along. I am 23 years old, and I don't think it needs to go any faster. When we are ready, and Homeboy wants to ask, he will.

I've had people ask me on Facebook, in person, on the phone and in the grocery store when I'm getting engaged. The answer is ... I don't know and I don't want to know! I am a planner through and through, but for this one (big, huge, important, monumental) moment, I'm going to trust my boyfriend to handle it. Call me old fashioned, but I want to be surprised and I want the moment to be special.

Here is what I'm asking --- censor yourself. In a recent article, "Think Before You Post? 5 Reasons People Self-Censor on Facebook," NBC News shares results from a recent Facebook survey.

According to the survey, people censored their posts for 5 reasons -
  1. People didn't want to "instigate or continue an argument," because fighting on Facebook isn't fun for anybody.
  2. Users also didn't want to "offend others," which is why people are always sharing cat videos, not their political manifestos. That, the study said, usually results in users sharing "content for the 'lowest common denominator' — content that would be appropriate for any of the user's distinct social circles."
  3. People didn't want to "bore" their friends.
  4. Also, they were hesistant to "post content that they believed might be inconsistent with their self-representations." Yes, we're talking to you, PhD student who secretly wants to post about "Duck Dynasty."
  5. Users neglected to post "due to technological constraints," for example, getting frustrated when trying to post with the mobile app.
Now, I have conflicting views about Facebook in general. Homeboy thinks people share too much, and on most levels, I agree. But, I still post something on my wall - usually daily.

I have censored my posts based on all of the above reasons. I'm sure all of my "cow" posts and Cougar Fleming pictures bore some people, but I have friends all over the country and I enjoy sharing a little part of my day with them, but not everything.

Here's the kicker people - what if we censored our live, human conversations with the same integrity? According to the article, "Overall, 33 percent of all posts written during the 17-day study were self-censored." Imagine, if you didn't say 33% of the things you've started to say.

You might not realize - but when you're asking me when I'm getting engaged, you're making me terribly self-conscious. What is wrong with me that I'm not engaged yet? When you ask someone when they're going to have a baby, maybe they've been trying for months to no avail. Why can't we get pregnant? They're asking themselves that everyday. When you ask someone how the job searching is going, you're really just rubbing salt in the wound. Finding a job is hard, and sometimes even with a great resume and people skills - it takes a while, trust me.

I'm not asking you to not get married or have a baby or ask about your friends' lives, but maybe just put yourself in their shoes when you ask really personal questions?

Not everyone gets to go to a job they enjoy, be in a loving relationship and have an awesome pet dog like I do. And I get that! For right now, that's enough. That's all I need in my life. One day, I will get married. One day, I'll have a kid that's not covered in golden fur. But for now, I've got a job I enjoy, a boyfriend I love, and a cute house in the country that is warm and functional.

And for some reason, I still want to get married - SOMEDAY. But please don't snub your nose at me (or anyone else) who hasn't done those things in a particular order based on your imaginary time schedule.


10 comments:

  1. Robin,
    You are awesome! This is beautiful. I now want a huge party for my graduation, because you know what I earned it!

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  2. I totally agree. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I wasn't engaged yet. The milkman and I had told each other we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together but the pressure turned me into a basket case. I would spend nights wondering about stupid things when people wanted to know why he hadn't proposed yet. Ultimately he didn't let anything get in his way of waiting and to be honest it was for the best. I wish I could have enjoyed the last few months of our dating period but instead I stressed about if I was good enough. Great post!

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  3. Thank you Megan! College is hard and you should have a giant party ... complete with DJ for surviving the all-nighters, just missing the curve and hours upon hours of research! :)

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  4. Carilynn, I think I'm in about the same place right now. After re-reading this a few times, I wish I would have put in Homeboy's perspective too. I'm sure he's tired of the harassment from others and listening to me crying every few months about it.

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  5. Robin,
    Kudos to you for writing this post! I wouldn't change the outcome of my failed marriage, ie. my daughter, for anything, but I do wish I would've waited. We were too young, not at all ready, and now I have to explain to my daughter why Mommy and Daddy don't live together. I'm truly happy with where I am now. I have an amazing daughter, a wonderful boyfriend, and a home with my name on the deed. If that's not good enough for people I don't care. It's good enough for me! Cherish every moment, after all, we only live once! Merry Christmas!

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  6. Dani, thanks for sharing. As you said, "cherish every moment" --- I know that life is short and I don't want to waste it feeling sorry for myself because I'm not engaged. The moment will come, but there's no need to rush ... I too have so much to be thankful for, including Nick. Merry Christmas to you and your family as well!

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  7. Robin, you could not have said this any better. I hear all the time, "you're back with him?" or my favorite "you guys aren't married yet?" My relationship is none of anyone's business. Be happy for me because I'm happy for what I've worked hard for! A ring might be someone's all time goal but we have different dreams and a ring and its diamond can wait. What's the rush?

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  8. It's funny how your relationship becomes everyone else's business too. I am happy for you Kim! Kudos to you for taking your time and working to achieve your goals.

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  9. Robin, you (and all your friends commenting here) sound like you have your heads on straight. Way to go! Thanks for posting about the article. I'm really glad it resonated with you.
    Valerie@SpeakHappiness.com

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    1. Thank you Valerie! I wasn't expecting this post to be so popular. The whole time I was writing this blog, all I could think was I was being selfish for not "being normal." Instead, it turns out many people my age have the same feelings about this subject.

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