24 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response

Get lost in a city where you don't speak the language.

Get lost in a city where you don’t speak the language.

I recently read this article titled, “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”. Normally, I don’t read these as they are usually written in an in-your-face-I-can-do-what-I-want tone. For whatever reason, I read this article, perhaps because I am 24 and not married and I was curious as to why 23 was the magic number. Unfortunately, the article is pretty much the same, lame advice for twenty-somethings, written by twenty-somethings whose sum total of advice is “17. Eat a Jar of Nutella is one sitting.” I didn’t think much about it until I saw at least 3 people repost it on Facebook.

I don’t know about you, but if the highlight of my life (outside of marriage???) before I’m 23 is to eat a jar of Nutella or “22. Be selfish” then I think marriage to anyone sounds pretty good.

My goal for life as a single or married should not be “22. Be selfish,” “2. Find your ‘thing’,” or “10. Cut your hair.” If any of those are my goals for an hour, day, or a year then my life is going to be very empty. However, the emptiness is not because I don’t have anyone to “cuddle and talk about my feelings” or “18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.” With or without a partner, my life has greater meaning than this entire list.

I am created to worship. I will worship, whether I worship marriage, a boyfriend, Nutella, or the Creator of the Universe is up to me. Instead of purposing myself to “16. Watch GiRLS. Over and over again” maybe the secret to happiness with or without someone is to die to myself. Over and over again. Maybe instead of “11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.” I can sponsor 2 orphaned children so they’re not separated from their families. Instead of “20. Hangout naked in front of a window.” I can hang out for an hour a week mentoring an at-risk child.

I think this author has a point that some people get married because it’s the thing to do, societal expectations, or whatever crazy reason:

It is a way for young people to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own. It’s a safety blanket. It’s an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own; thus, you now have someone that is legally obligated to support you till one of you dies or files for divorce.

Yes, the world is big and scary. Yes, it is nice to have someone to share your dreams, fears, and life. Yes, it is wrong to get married only because you’re afraid of being single. But the (opposite?) healthy response is not to become an expert on all things GIRLS or to belittle those who choose to marry young – their journey will be different, but no less in need of purpose than the person who remains single. Married or single, we all need a life of purpose outside of ourselves.

The crux of the argument centers on the idea that “you owe it to yourself”…to find yourself, make out with a stranger, not ruin the sanctity of marriage by marrying young, to do whatever you want because you want to do it. I don’t know where we got the idea that we owe ourselves anything. We literally did nothing to be on this earth. For the first years of our lives we were completely helpless. In fact, we’re still pretty helpless and dependent on others for life or even just to breathe. Case in point, let’s all give a shout-out to the Ozone for remaining in tact (mostly) so we don’t fry to death today. Also, does anyone else get annoyed with constantly reminding your heart to keep beating? I mean, really, 100,000 beats per day – too bad our hearts don’t beat without us thinking about it. Oh wait.

Instead of finding ourselves, thinking that “Millennials deserve the opportunity to develop ourselves, alone,” perhaps we should think and develop outside of ourselves and ponder deep questions – like who created us and this world we live in. What privilege do we have that we can take time to find ourselves while 12 year old girls in Afghanistan are being forced to marry middle age men and find themselves enduring a lifetime of abuse and suffering?

I understand the impulse to have fun, enjoy life while free of many responsibilities that occur in a relationship, but fun can and should be had after marriage too. Responsibility can and should occur in all of life. Unfortunately, you cannot compare a lifetime covenant of marriage to “13. Accomplish a Pintrerest project.” You can, however, live a fulfilling, purposeful, fun life in any stage of life.

Instead, I propose my own list of 24 Things to do Instead of Getting Married by 24…

1. Sponsor a Child for a year

2. Read at least 3 NY Times articles every week

3. Take your parents out for a fancy (non-fast food) meal

4. Work hard at a job – any job

5. Travel to a new country

6. Travel to a new state

7. Read a classical fiction novel

8. Teach someone a new skill you have already mastered

9. Learn a new skill

10. Learn a new language

11. Pay off debt

12. Read the Bible in a year

13. Be selfless

14. Join a sports league, art club, orchestra, whatever you’re interested in.

15. Write a letter to a friend

16. Learn how to properly set a table

17. Stop taking bathroom selfies

18. Vote – local, state, or national election

19. Embark on a goal that will take at least 10 years to accomplish

20. Hand write a thank-you note

21. Buy a nice dress or tux/suit for weddings and funerals

22. Re-read a favorite book

23. Spend a day in the mountains alone

and last, but not least…

24. Make a friend and share a jar of Nutella with them – one sitting or otherwise

379 thoughts on “24 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response

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  2. Love this. What a great list! I’m a month shy of 23 and I’m married and have an amazing 6 month old baby. Although this may be a great list for singles, I think it’s great for any young person to accomplish — definitely working on a few of those myself!

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  5. I absolutely LOVE this post. It was such a blessing. I, myself, AM one of those silly, young twenty-somethings who is chosing “to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own.” Those are not my words though. By the grace of God I have followed some advice given by a professor I have a lot of respect for; “If you ever get the chance to spend the rest of your life with the love of your life, you should. I highly recommend it.”

    My true love and I have certainly not discovered everything about ourselves individually. We are still very young and there is an element of “inexperience” due to that fact. However, we pray that we are able to “develop ourselves” together better than we would have been able to “alone.” Our primary objective, in any situation is to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” praying that all other things we need will be given to us.

    Thanks again for this post and may the Lord bless you!

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  10. This posting is great. Some much truth in one entry.

    Our society teaches us to be selfish. Thank you for the reminder to be selfless, married or not!

    Blessings. Keep writing.

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  12. This is a nice list, but the tone just seemed kind of shaming– I don’t think the purpose of the original article was to equate frivolity with marriage so much as it was to posit that since we’re young, there ARE unlimited options; 20-somethings often find themselves sort of in between adolescence and adulthood, and I think the list addressed that feeling with a nice mix of using all the opportunities and time that come with youth to do stupid, frivolous things as well as awesome, life-changing things (for instance, I’d doubt you disagree with the original author’s suggestions to adopt a pet, start a band, or join the Peace Corps– in fact, these echo a lot of the things you say yourself). Personally, I think both lists could be just two items long:

    1. Do whatever things make you feel fulfilled, happy, and as if you’re making a positive and meaningful impact on your community and the world.
    2. Don’t judge others if their definition of the above differs from yours.

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  22. I respect your point of view; however, I have to disagree with the somewhat assumptive and privileged tone that this article takes on. By creating a singular identity out of “12 year old girls in Afghanistan,” you make assumptions about what life is like for girls in the Middle East and therefore show your none-too-hidden Islamophobia. Just because a traditional Muslim lifestyle is different from your own does not mean that this way of life is worse somehow…and every Muslim family is different. You also assume that I as a reader am Christian and will want to “12.) Read the Bible in a year.” That is cool that religion is so important to you individually, but you should not assume that others will be of the same religion, or even that religion is equally important in their lives. By privileged, I mean “11.) Pay off your debt”: my family and I are not well off, and yes, we work hard every day to pay off debt (I recognize my privilege here as someone who was able to have an education), but unfortunately it might not be paid off by the time I am 24. There are also many people who cannot afford to attend the increasingly expensive universities and colleges in the U.S., meaning they would also be unable to afford 5.), 6.), and 21.), among others. Next time you right an article, consider not only your own privilege, but also the different lives of your audience — you want to be inclusive, after all, not exclusive to just a group of (my assumption here) white, 20-something, middle-class Christians.

    • I believe by posting her “own list of 24 things to do instead of getting married by 24” she is writing something personal. Carefully thought out goals for her individual life and posting them probably more to hold her own self accountable for these goals than to try to convert everyone to her own way of life and thinking. I believe, and I very possibly could be wrong which is okay, but I believe her whole intention when writing this list is to encourage readers not to follow her own list to the letter lest you not have a meaningful life, but to instead begin a conversation that allows her readers to ask themselves what are goals that I can formulate for my own life that will bring me not only the most fulfillment but also the most growth. When asking individual questions of yourself you are going to ask them with your level of privilege because,well, your speaking to yourself. We as readers shouldn’t ever take anything verbatim as we see it and accept it as blanket truths for everyone, but instead read it and then annalyze how it applies to our own individual lives.

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  27. Thank you for writing this! Too many articles are written by immature 20-somethings who forget that they are now in a position where they can actually help others instead of just helping themselves. If the target audience was a group of self-sacrificing, Type-A personalities with waaaay too much on their plates, then I guess I understand, but the majority of adult Millenials are not. Most college graduates are still stuck in a teenager’s mindset and have no capacity to understand the world outside themselves.
    The people I know who would re-post that “23” article are the type to get jealous when others their age find someone who wants to marry them. The funny thing is that they would secretly marry someone, too, if they were asked. Instead, they hide behind bravado and pretend that they have so much more to do, important things, like being naked in front of a window. Was that really a goal??
    Your list is a good starting point / checklist for building upon a life of activities beyond what the majority of 20-somethings can accomplish.

  28. My best friend and I have decided to list and follow 20 things we would want to do before we got married. Most lists on the web seemed too rebellious and clouded a big question in our minds, ‘Do we really crave to do this before we got married?’. And then we reached here and the blog made sense. Although the two blogs are poles apart, one too western and the other modern, I think we would personalize ours with a blend of both and a pinch of our own fantasies and desires. We will definitely post you with what we finally end up doing!

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