Hello. My name is Lauren, and I'm absolutely terrified of marriage.
Why am I so afraid, you ask? One reason.
No, it's not because I can't imagine sleeping with the same person for the rest of my life. It's also not because I was traumatized by my parents' divorce.
It's actually much more complex than that. Although I'm only 21, I'm lucky enough to be able to say I've been in love once before. I mean the whole nine yards.
Every single thing about him was perfect in my eyes, even the imperfections. I would've done anything for him, and for the first time in my life, I completely put someone else's needs before my own.
It was the strangest feeling. It was so new. Yet, it was so comfortable and easy. I had turned into the same cliche I had spent my entire life mocking. But I didn't even care.
I was in love, really in love. It was changing me for the better. A year went by, and it seemed as if this love was here to stay. That is, until he committed to a college in a different state. We soon realized that maybe our forever was going to be cut short.
Instead of accepting this fate, we blindly decided to do the unthinkable and try to make a long-distance relationship work. Yikes. I know. But at the time, the thought of breaking up was far too difficult for either of us to grasp. What was the worst that could happen, right?
With over 1,000 miles between us, everything immediately changed. We changed. His once adorable imperfections were now just that: imperfections. His stubbornness was no longer cute.
It was frustrating. I could feel him changing into a new person. His life didn't include me anymore. Not to mention the fact that I was changing just as much, if not more.
Slowly but surely, we turned back into strangers. But we wouldn't admit it to ourselves. Or maybe, we couldn't admit to ourselves.
We tried and tried. We dragged it out for far too long, until we realized the inevitable: We were no longer in love. Just like that.
That, my friends, is what terrifies me. Now, when I see a photo of him on my timeline, I see a complete stranger. That scares the living hell out of me.
How can someone go so quickly from being the "love of my life" to being someone I don't even shoot a "happy birthday" text to? It seems as if falling out of love comes just as easily as falling in.
Knowing that I can become unappealing, unlovable and even ugly to someone who once thought the world of me is the most unsettling feeling I have ever known in my 21 years. What's even more unsettling is the thought that this will all happen again. Only this time, I will be older, and this person will be my husband.
Seeing as half of all marriages end in divorce these days, I wouldn't consider this to be an irrational fear. Marrying someone is one of the largest commitments you can ever make in your life. That's a huge risk to take on someone who might just fall out of love with you one day.
Even though all of this is present in my mind, I realize that living in fear will only keep me from truly living. I like to think this is just about me being young and not allowing myself time to experience more types of love.
Or maybe the love I felt with my ex was only meant to be temporary. Maybe I will meet someone one day who will sweep me off my feet and show me I have nothing to be afraid of after all.
All I know right now is, I'm scared. But I'm constantly working on opening myself up to both love and the idea of forever. No matter how afraid I am, I refuse to let that fear make me miss out on everything life and love has to offer me.
So, if you share this fear with me – which I am sure many of you do – I encourage you to do the same. Never stop working to conquer your fears.
Who knows? Life may surprise you.