I have been living in a small town in Southern Utah for the past five years. I have completed my high school years here, and have even started my journey through college.
Recently, I have received several wedding invitations from my fellow classmates and extended family members. At only 19 years old, my peers are tying the knot. I am continually asked by others where my non-existent boyfriend is, aka the boyfriend I have chosen not to have.
I have come to the realization that this expiration date on marriage is exclusive to my zip code. I have traveled to California and Dallas, and a look of horror crosses my friends' faces when I tell them my closest friends are married.
The culture in this small city completely devours the brains of its citizens. Dancing is not allowed where alcohol is served, there are only two local dive bars and there are only two phases of life: childhood life and married life.
There is no in-between. You graduate high school, and that’s that. Just hope that you have someone lined up to meet you at the altar, with your high school diploma.
I am always on the lookout for non-locals to have coffee with (yes, coffee drinking is against the dominant religion). If you attempt to make a statement and carry your Starbucks in the street, be prepared for looks of horror.
However, I’m only 19. Given that I will probably live till I'm 80, I am in no place to settle down. I don’t believe in settling. That’s an excuse for those who aren’t willing to put forth a little more effort and take some more time.
There is beauty in individuality.
I absolutely love the life I have created for myself. It has taught me so much about who I am as a being on this planet. I have created a sanctuary for myself, and carefully choose to set aside time for the people I care about. There is no way I am ready for married life.
Don’t get me wrong; I see the beauty in merging lives with another being, creating a family and having babies. But why so soon?
There was a time when getting married at such a young age wasn’t so out of the norm. In fact, it was the norm.
Our great grandparents and mentors have shown us that young love is a real thing. You don’t just live with someone for 50 years because you "kind of" like them.
However, times have changed.
Women aren’t just looked upon as housewives anymore. Instead, they take on the workforce as a force themselves. I see that this place is in a bubble. My fellow friends are planning pregnancies, much like my grandparents were.
I understand that each place on this planet holds a different culture, energy and way of life. I also have a deep respect for others and their beliefs, but I ask for the same level of respect in return.
If I meet a guy, cool. But I'm not going to have the wedding date marked on my iPhone or have baby names picked out after our first encounter.
Instead, I will continue to attend my fellow peers' weddings as a lone bystander, observing the babies having babies.