Today's guest post is from a 23-year-old professional musician and singer named Amanda, who knows the stereotypes associated with being "too young" for her adult life. A newlywed to her high-school sweetheart (who hopes to become an "early mama" soon), Amanda shares her experience holding onto a traditional relationship that's been labeled taboo:
When I was 14 years old, I met Andy. Andy was the new, goofy kid from Australia and everyone was very interested in what he had to say. He had told a few of my good friends that he "liked me," and from then on they were convinced they had to get us together. Andy and I became good friends, and eventually started "going out" — which really just meant that we were boyfriend and girlfriend, even though we weren't allowed to date yet.
Little did I know, I had just met my future husband.
Andy's passion for music is one thing that stood out to me. He was a bass player and I was a singer. Singing had become the one hobby I was passionate about. We shared a love for music and it just clicked.
Four years of high school went by and it came time to go to college. Andy and I were already different from most couples our age because we were still together. What made us really different is that we decided to go to college together.
Now here's when we started getting The Looks.
"Oh, you're going to college with your boyfriend?" Because everyone knows that's a bad idea.
I can see why going to college with your boyfriend is/was somewhat frowned upon. College is usually a time when young adults learn more about themselves, get to know others, and figure out what they want in life. Most young adults are not mature enough to commit to a relationship for six months, let alone four years. And I'm not saying that Andy and I missed out on exploring what we wanted or meeting new friends, but we did stay together.
I started resenting those people who thought it was a bad idea. People my age — and even more surprisingly, my parents' age — would say things like, "You came with your boyfriend? Don't you want to have fun?" I felt like I was walking around with an "X" on my forehead. I was either being ignored by guys because I had a boyfriend (and was therefore uninteresting to them) or I was being judged by girls whom implied I wasn't independent because I wasn't single.
Could I be respected and grow as a strong, educated young woman with my high-school boyfriend by my side?
Four years later, Andy and I got married. I was 21 years old, and no, I wasn't pregnant. I was about to graduate, and we felt ready. We had been together for 8 years at this point, and we were ready to move on to the next level.
Our wedding cost a mere $2,000. We don't have steady, full-time jobs yet. We haven't started saving for our future children's college funds. We're not even completely sure what we want to do just yet. But Andy is my best friend and has given me nothing but consistent, loving support — in some of the most tumultuous years of my young life.
People would give me The Look and say things like, "What's your plan? Do you know what you're gonna do with the rest of your lives? Do you have enough money saved up?" It doesn't help that I look about five years younger than I really am, and honestly, we don't have the answers to many of those questions. One thing we do know: Wherever we're going, it's going to be together.
In a culture where marriage under 30 seems taboo and the thought of having children or buying a house seems impossible, being a young married couple at 23 years old can be a bit confusing. I recently ran into a 60-something woman, whom I hadn't seen in years. She asked what I was up to, in which I replied that I was married, and she was in immediate shock.
"You're married?? My daughter can't even think about being in a relationships right now, she's studying to be a lawyer!"
Once again, I was slapped in the face with the implication that somehow my life is lacking or I've missed out on my independent youth because I chose to marry young. I'm still a determined woman, I just choose to find love and support in my relationship over money and material things.
I love the fact that women don't have to rely on men financially anymore — the way our grandmothers or great-grandmothers did. However, being a woman now is difficult because we're expected to do it all: go to school, have a career, get married, have children, make money, and be the caretakers. And as difficult as it may be, I do want all of those things.
But why is everyone so concerned with the order of these events? Why can't I get married and simultaneously pursue my career in music? Why can't I, God forbid, have a child before I have everything figured out?
Getting the career of our dreams or saving the extra money may have to be put on hold during these economic times. But does our relationship have to be too?
Thank you for sharing, Amanda. Did anyone in the EM community have a similar experience? Any comforting words for Amanda?