I want to start off by saying that the purpose of this post is not to knock anyone’s journey. The purpose of this post, any blog post, is to reveal my journey. Here’s to hoping that it will encourage anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation, feeling the same feelings and thinking the same thoughts. This post is for us.By the time I graduated from university, I was 21 years of age and my relationship was 5 years strong. A lot of people measure your readiness for marriage by either your age or the number of years you’ve been dating. Nevermind that my relationship, or even my life might not be entirely ready for such a responsibility. And don’t give me the cliché phrase, “You’re never truly ready,” because it’s also possible for you to not be ready at all.
When I graduated from university, the next step for me was to figure out how I was going to jumpstart a career that I loved. But then something strange started happening on my social media feed. I started seeing old classmates and acquaintances get engaged, then married. And I started to feel it: it was guilt, I think. Or maybe it was shame. Because marriage was nowhere on my radar at the age of 22 with a five-year relationship. Yet I watched as people younger than me and people in relationships shorter than mine take the leap and tie the knot. So, why weren’t we? There was never any doubt about whether this was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with: I knew he was the one. So, why couldn’t we?
Because we still had things we needed to accomplish and things we needed to learn individually.
After graduation, I decided to go to graduate school, while he pursued an after-degree diploma. The original plans we had our first year of university were out the window. We were pursuing careers entirely different from our original ideas and the first step was to pursue further education.. Even if that meant doing so 700 kilometres apart. To give you non-metric people some context, it was a six to seven hour drive. That first year of long distance was one of the hardest times of our relationship, but it was also the biggest growth period for us as individuals and us as a couple.
After we finished our programs, the plan was for us to find jobs in the same place to begin settling down. But of course, life has a funny way of interrupting your plans. He found a job across the country in Alberta, while I moved back home in Ontario. Now, we were 3,479 kilometres apart. Again, to give you non-metric readers some context, that’s a four-hour flight or a three-day drive. And I started to feel it again: guilt and shame. Because marriage was nowhere on our radar at the age of 23 with a six-year relationship. Yet I watched as people younger than me and people in relationships shorter than mine take the leap and tie the knot. So, why weren’t we? Getting married would fix the distance: we could start our lives together. So, why wouldn’t we? Because we still had things we needed to accomplish and things we needed to learn individually.
I started my search for a job in Toronto, but I also looked for jobs in Alberta. At almost 2 years of long distance, I was ready to take just any job, move to Alberta, get married and hope everything turns out okay. Because I was feeling the pressure. It was almost a revelation to me when Andrel and I talked about it one night during one of our long drives from Edmonton to Lacombe. Whenever I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a long time, whether it was old friends or professors, the first question was always, “So when are you getting married?” They were pretty much pointing a neon sign that said: She’s 23 years old with an almost seven-year relationship, but has no plans of marriage. And I could feel the guilt and shame flooding in — the pressure. Andrel, on the other hand, would run into someone and their first question was, “So what are you up to? Where are you working?”
Are you seeing the picture here?
Here I was, almost 24 years old in a seven-year relationship and marriage was nowhere on my radar. And I kept watching people younger than me and people in relationships shorter than mine take the leap and tie the knot. So, why couldn’t we? Why haven’t we done it yet? I started to think that maybe we were selfish. Maybe I was selfish. I wanted to finish school, start a career in my chosen field, and do a bunch of other things before getting married. And he wanted to do the same. We had things we needed to accomplish and things we wanted to learn individually. Did that make us selfish?
9 months after I finished graduate school, I found a job in the same city and province as him. The contract was for six months. I clearly remember sitting at lunch with my older coworkers as they interrogated me about why I wasn’t married yet. And the whole analogy of, “He won’t buy the cow if he’s already getting the milk,” came up as a possible reason why he hadn’t proposed yet. And I was almost blue in the face trying to explain to them that it was about timing, our timing. It was about going at our pace, making sure we weren’t rushing into a marriage simply because of age or the number of years we’ve been dating. Then, it crept back in: the guilt and the shame. Because marriage was something we were just beginning to consider at the age of 24 and an eight-year relationship. Yet people younger than me and people in relationships shorter than mine have taken the leap and tied the knot..
I’m turning 25 in two months and our relationship will be entering its ninth year. He proposed to me almost a month ago. Despite the many comments of, “Finally” and “It’s long overdue”, I am so grateful that I found a partner who understood and respected our pace and our timing. Although marriage would have been great, I can’t imagine how different our lives would have been if we didn’t give ourselves the time to grow as individuals and accomplish our personal goals first before officially merging our lives together.
Don’t feel pressured. Don’t compare where you are in your journey to where others might be in theirs. Don’t let just anyone determine when, where, and how you should do things. When you take control of your narrative, you can look back on your journey and realize just how incredibly grateful you are that you did things at your own pace.
Here’s to #wisdomwedding2018 and a new chapter in the journey.