A year ago, if someone were to tell me this would be my life today, I would have laughed in his or her face.
As a 21-year-old college dancer, I valued $2 Tap Tuesdays at the campus bar and pay days when we could afford Svedka instead of the usual Burnett's.
I was the girl who could always be convinced that going out on a Wednesday was definitely a good idea, and who didn’t know how go on a date without pre-gaming it with several glasses (okay, a bottle) of wine.
I lived with my best friends, did well in school, had a great job and loved every minute of being single.
I remember thinking, “Wow, I really have it all.”
Today, I’m sitting in bed, surrounded by GRE study materials and laundry I should definitely be folding.
Tonight, when my boyfriend gets home from work, we will toy around with the idea of meeting friends.
Then, we will decide the both of us are just too tired.
We’ll play rock-paper-scissors to see who has to make the popcorn, and then, we will rent a movie and probably fall asleep halfway through.
Tomorrow morning, we will wake up, part ways for work and do it all over again.
Nowadays, I feel like everything I read online is praising Millennials for staying single and experiencing the world before settling down.
I’m not knocking the single life at all.
I loved every minute of being single, and I will admit every now and then that I look at my single friends with a slight pang of jealousy.
But, I do think pop culture definitely misses the mark when it comes to settling down.
At 22, I am settled down and happier than ever.
Contrary to popular belief, my life is far from over.
Here are six reasons why:
1. There is something truly wonderful about sharing every aspect of your life with someone.
I’ll admit that I am one of those girls who doesn’t go a day without seeing her boyfriend.
I can count on one hand the number of days in the last five months that I have spent without him.
It’s not that I need to spend every day with him; it’s that I genuinely want to.
Most things I encounter on a daily basis remind me of him in some way.
I am that really annoying girlfriend who tags him in all the Instagram memes I know he would laugh at, and I text him when I hear a song I think he would like.
It’s so crazy to me to have somebody actually care about all the little, mediocre things that happen in my life every day.
I can’t help but sit here and think, “I get this for the rest of my life. Damn, I’m lucky.”
2. At the end of every day, you know you're putting yourself in the best possible situation for the future.
It’s not uncommon to listen to a conversation between us and hear him remind me that we are doing this for our future family.
Honestly, I am the one who loses sight of that the most.
I am the first one to burn out during the week and vow to quit my second job because I am so tired.
I’m lucky enough to have someone put it all into perspective for me, though.
What we are doing today is making sure we have a brighter future tomorrow.
We are working our asses off now — killing ourselves juggling two jobs and a committed relationship — so that things will be easier when we are 30 years old.
Every night we stay home is another several valuable hours of working on our relationship.
Sometimes, I neglect my friends.
Sometimes, I reach the mental breakdown point because I am just so tired.
All the time, I wonder if this is all worth it.
But when I think of the next five years and the person who is going to be standing there holding my hand, it definitely is.
3. You learn to find true happiness in the little things.
With our work schedules, my impending return to school and a whole lot of responsibilities for the both of us, our time together is pretty limited.
We don’t really go out on dates anymore, and our idea of a romantic evening is trading off giving each other back massages because we both are aching.
For most people, our lives would seem incredibly boring.
But it’s just made me realize there is a lot of happiness in the little things.
Last night, we decided we wanted to have a drink while we did our typical daily catch-up and Netflix-watching.
After going back and forth about who had to leave the house to buy alcohol, we ended up at the grocery store together.
After 30 minutes of walking up and down aisles and checking out two times because we forgot things, we ended up with toothpaste, strawberry kiwi juice, popcorn and vodka.
I realized I really love my boyfriend’s laugh and grocery shopping.
When you settle down young, things are far from sunshine and roses all the time.
You are fresh out in the real world, trying to make everything make sense.
It takes a lot of work.
I can guarantee the hard days far surpass the easy ones, but when you step back and look at all the happy moments dotted within life’s more difficult moments, it really reminds you why you are doing this to begin with.
You don’t have to put off happiness simply because you're young and still working hard to establish yourself.
You just have to learn to roll with the little things and learn how special they are.
4. You know you always have someone looking out for you.
Whether it’s to dry your tears after a tough day at work or to yell at you for going out in the snow without a coat on, settling down means you always, always have someone looking out for you.
I am the first one to admit I love my alone time, but there is no better feeling than knowing you have someone to always fall back on.
5. Good things come to those who wait.
With both of us working two jobs and ridiculous hours, a trip around the world probably isn’t on the cards anytime soon.
When we talk about vacation, the conversation is usually followed by, “That’s a lot of money we could be spending in smarter ways.”
Everyone always says traveling young is the only way to do it.
But my 40-something-year-old boss just came back from a two-week vacation to Paris, so I beg to differ.
Settling down so young means your mindset is often focused on the future.
When you meet the person you're going to marry, it’s easy to lose sight of the things happening right now.
I know spending ridiculous amounts of money on a vacation right now means another year where we wouldn’t have enough saved up to buy a house.
But that doesn’t mean I can't look through pictures of friends gallivanting around NYC and feel a little piece of regret.
It helps to remind me that our crazy adventures may not be right now, but in 10 years, we will be in a much better place.
We will take crazy trips, and I will get to do it with my best friend by my side.
Working hard and settling down young doesn’t take our lifetime of adventure away.
It just means we have to wait a little bit longer.
6. You get to spend more than half your lifetime living in love.
Meeting him at 22 means he will be there for so many things that finding a partner later in life would have prevented.
He will be my date to all of my sisters’ weddings.
I spent the afternoon after my college graduation telling him about my favorite moments of senior year.
He got to meet all my foster brothers, so he knows how important they are to me.
He held me as I cried after moving out of the apartment I shared with all my best friends, and he moved me into my first adult apartment.
He’s been there for so many little moments, and he will be here for all the ones I haven’t had yet.
Meeting your significant other in your 20s means he or she only missed two decades of your life.
You still have many to look forward to.
My grandmother died at 93 years old.
If I live to be even close to that age, I will get to live with his love for over 50 years. I’ll take that over the single life any day.
Settling down didn’t end my life.
It didn’t take away any adventure, and it certainly didn’t stop me short of my dreams.
It didn’t make life boring, mediocre or sad.
My life has changed drastically in a year, but I still see my future as just as bright.