Awhile back, a friend of mine (let's call her "N" for "naive") was having trouble finding a worthy boyfriend. Part of the problem was that she was very young, and consistently went after the new, shiny fella who walked into her scene, diving headlong into head-over-heels love before taking the time to get to know him. He was super cool, with his melodramatic "stage presence", for lack of a better description, so he must be great to date! And of course he was right for her. She was already truly, madly, deeply in love. How could he not be?

It was never really any surprise, to me, when she was screwed over. In at least two of the cases, one of their mutual friends actually talked the guys into "giving N a chance". In almost all of the cases, it only took five minutes of her blathering on about the guys she was chasing for me to realize these guys were way too self-centered for ANY relationship, much less a relationship with someone as high maintenance as N. But every. Single. Time. N acted like their douchebaggery was a complete surprise when the relationships ended.

While I was consoling her, she always let it slip that the real problem wasn't that Mr. Super Cool had treated her badly. The real problem was that she felt like an old maid at 19. Society told her she should be married, or at least engaged, so she was willing to date just about anyone if it would ultimately lead to a ring on her finger.

This is a common thing; mostly among women, but also among men. American culture has us convinced our main goals in life are as follows:

  1. get a demanding job that will make you richer than God and take up all of your free time

  2. find a hot-by-society's-standard spouse you'll never see because of the demanding job

  3. buy a giant, expensive house and a fancy car you'll never be able to enjoy to force you to keep said demanding job

  4. have oodles of kids you won't be able to parent because of said demanding job

  5. do all of this before you're thirty because life ends at thirty, dontcha know.

As a person who's been (mostly) happily married 10 1/2 years, let me tell you what I think about marriage. It's SUPER FRIGGIN' AWESOME if you're married to the right person, but it is NOT for children. And you don't stop being a child mentally and emotionally just because you've made your way around the sun 18 times.

That is not meant to be insulting. It's just fact. Even though I already had two kids, I wasn't an adult at 18, either. We all develop differently, and we all become adults at different paces. It has everything to do with your life experience and how you're raised, and nothing to do with whether or not you are a good person. Everyone on Earth is a little immature in some way. Immaturity only makes you a bad person if you allow it to give your conscience permission to intentionally hurt others without remorse. In my mind, anyway.

What's my point?

My point is that a lot of you are what society considers "marrying age" in these United States, and a lot of you, male and female, are chasing the "American Dream". A lot of you feel this overwhelming pressure to always be dating, and just one person at a time, with the end game of a spouse and 2.8 kids. You're planning serious careers that come with heavy doses of stress and light doses of you/family time. And you're wishing away the time you have to be considered "youthful" and to be free to just enjoy life without the crushing weight the responsibilities you're chasing will bring.

But have you stopped to consider what you actually want from life before persuing what's expected of you?

If you haven't, I suggest you do. And soon. Because one of the worst feelings in the world is getting everything you're "supposed to" have and realizing you didn't want any of it in the first place.

The moral of my story, folks, is this: Chase YOUR dreams, not the dreams your parents and society have for you. If you dont want to get married, dont get married. If you don't want kids, don't have kids. If you don't want to be some big shot corporate mogul, DON'T. Live your life how YOU want to live it. And ignore anyone who tells you you're wrong.

Unless you're a giant douche. In that case, you might want to do something about that. Just sayin'.