This I Believe

Christine - Ogden, Utah
Entered on March 27, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family
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I believe that getting married too young robs women of priceless experiences, and keeps them from discovering their own true selves.

I live in a neighborhood full of beautiful young women. More than beautiful these recent high school graduates are smart, athletic and surprisingly devout in their religion. They are attending University on scholarship. They live at home and enjoy their families. These girls will turn twenty this summer.

I was not nearly as together on the brink of my twentieth birthday. For one thing I did not live at home; I lived in an apartment near the university I attended. I made mistakes; learning to stand on your own two feet can be a bit messy. I studied hard. I worked hard. I had a car that broke down every Friday and sometimes Wednesday just for spite. I suffered belly aches from a bad diet, and occasionally from the stress of not having enough money to pay my bills.

I hiked in the mountains of northern Utah. I fell in and out of love. I went to frat parties. I danced all night long more than once. I was always smiling. I dated a brilliant musician. I dated a drag racer. I dated myself and found out I was great girl.

I grew up in Utah. I am a “cultural Mormon.” I was also a baptized member of the LDS faith. During those tumultuous years at University I fought against my faith. I felt the confines of my culture. I went a little crazy trying to break free from it.

Weekly girls at the University got engaged. At twenty my best childhood friends were married. By the time I turned 21, almost all my friends were married. .

In the name of caring, my young married friends circled around me, on the eve of my 21st birthday. They told me I needed to settle down and get married. They warned me, I was getting to the “unmarriable” point, if I did not get married, than to consider a mission, to further my spiritual progress. Instead I got arrested for accidentally taking a stun gun into the airport. I forgot the blasted thing was in my purse. My friends, heavy hearted, gave up on me.

By the time I turned 22 my friends had babies and gave up their careers. I continued banking life experiences, walking my own path.

On my 23rd Birthday, I finally married. Young by the national standards, ancient by Utah standards, I knew who I was and that I could take care of myself.

It’s a lovely spring morning. The young women are out enjoying it. I can’t help but feel a little sad. They are all engaged to be married and by summers end they will be married.

The congratulations won’t roll from my lips. Instead I find myself saying, “Give that back to the young man who gave it to you. Go and stand on your own two feet, just for awhile. He’ll wait.”