Marriage is an incredibly beautiful and special experience. There is no argument being made here against it. But sometimes, it is so sensationalized that it simply becomes a concept against which people measure everything else in their lives. So here’s a gentle reminder that there are plenty of amazing things out there for you to experience other than, or in addition to, getting married.
1. Signing a lease for an apartment that’s completely yours – no parents, no siblings, no roommates, no boyfriend or girlfriend, just you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the smallest studio in existence, because it’s still yours.
2. Doing something that’s terrified you your entire life – it can be as drastic as skydiving or as seemingly low-key as signing up for an acting class. If it terrifies you, it’s a huge step to take.
3. Going through a painful breakup and refusing to let it drown you; instead, deciding to find growth and strength from it.
4. Asking for a raise when you know you deserve it, especially if you’re the one to bring it up.
5. Giving money – that you don’t have quite enough of yet – to people or causes that need it.
6. Discovering or rediscovering spirituality in your life, whether that’s through an organized religion, a book, or any other structure that helps you.
7. Taking your parents on a vacation.
8. …Or even just out to dinner, because this is finally your chance to be the one who can treat them to something, rather than the other way around.
9. Reconnecting with an old friend that you’ve always regretted losing touch with. Being the first one to reach out, to tell them you miss them, to make an attempt to see them again.
10. Giving a heartfelt, well-written, meaningful speech as the Best Man or Maid of Honor at the wedding of someone who is very special to you.
11. Accepting a job or promotion that pulls you out of your comfort zone and places you in a city or country where you barely know anyone.
12. Buying or leasing a car completely on your own – with no help from your parents or siblings or friends. Just a purchase or lease agreement that exists simply between you and the car dealership.
13. Reaching a point in your life where, even if you still care about your looks, you’re more concerned with your character, your choices, and the people you surround yourself with.
14. Embarking on a journey to lose weight or get in shape, because you feel that it’s what your body truly needs to be healthier.
15. The first time you solve a major problem in your life without seeking advice or approval from those around you.
16. Making a huge physical change that you want, but aren’t quite ready for yet – a major haircut, a piercing, a tattoo, a hair color change, a wardrobe that you’ve always always felt was more “you,” etc.
17. Deciding to go back and get your Masters if you feel that that’s the best thing for you to do at this moment in time.
18. Getting on your own health insurance plan.
19. Quitting a perfectly good job – not because it’s a challenge or it’s difficult, but because it makes you truly miserable and unhappy.
20. …And quitting said job without telling or “asking” your parents first, because you’ve already figured out how you can budget out your savings until you find something else.
21. The first holiday you spend with friends instead of family.
22. Getting to that age where you buy your own plane tickets home, instead of begging your parents to do so for you.
23. Changing a tire by yourself on the side of the road, with no help.
24. …Or, if that would be a disaster, signing up for your own AAA membership.
25. Getting to the point where you make appointments on your own for things like physicals and dermatology check ups – with no insistence from your mother.
26. Going on your first vacation with a significant other – paid for by you two and you two alone.
27. Developing your own honest, genuine political beliefs. Not because you want to sound smart at parties, but because as you get older, you’re starting to become less naive and more concerned about important issues that your country faces.
28. Owning a piece of furniture in your place that wasn’t a giveaway from your parents, wasn’t found on the street, and wasn’t purchased at IKEA.
29. Having certain luxuries that you like to spend your hard-earned money on once in a while, like super soft bedsheets, or a massage, or a really delicious bottle of wine.
30. …And getting to the maturity level where you can tell the difference between treating yourself, and being financially reckless and irresponsible.
31. When you have people over for dinner – and it’s a meal you cooked by yourself.
32. Finding out, and actually understanding, what the hell a deductible is.
33. Telling someone you love them without knowing for sure whether they love you back.
34. Feeling genuinely happy when your friend hits a huge milestone, and learning to not worry about the small bout of jealousy or panic you feel over it.
35. Getting on your own cell phone plan, and realizing that when you’ve overused your data, there are no more family arguments to be had. It’s just you and your credit card, paying the overage charges on your own.
36. Setting up a 401K, because you want to. Not because someone lectured you about the importance of it.
37. Traveling to a city you’ve always wanted to explore, and paying for everything on your own dime.
38. Reaching an age where you know how to admit when you’re wrong.
39. Finding that one book that changes your life, even if it’s in the smallest way possible.
40. Getting to a point in your life where you look at teenagers and college kids and think I’m so glad I’m not in that stage anymore, as opposed to I’d give anything to go back.