Although Jeremy and I didn’t consider ourselves “officially” engaged until after he asked my father for permission in December 2008, we bought the ring together the month before and I wore it on my left hand until we went home the following month. We told our local friends that we were engaged, but we didn’t announce it publicly or to our extended family until after my Dad gave his approval.
I was 19 at the time, and halfway through my sophomore year of college.
I was so excited to announce it to my friends at school because I was happy. I loved Jeremy and I wanted to be his wife.
I anticipated squeals of excitement and my girlfriends asking to see my ring. I imagined questions about when the big day was going to be and what colors I was going to pick.
Unfortunately that was not my reality. Instead of “congratulations”, I mostly heard “why?” when I announced my engagement. “But you’re so YOUNG” normally followed the “why?” question. Included with looks of confusion.
I suppose I should have expected it.
I knew I was young to be getting married, I knew it was unconventional, but I had still expected people to be happy for me.
Looking back, I know that they were probably thinking one of two things.
First, for those who really cared about me, they were probably concerned and didn’t want me to make a mistake. It had been a quick engagement (6 months), and although I knew that Jeremy was an amazing guy and that our relationship was stable and full of love, they probably couldn’t see that from the outside. They were probably worried that I was going to quit school and get pregnant, giving up on my dreams.
Second, for those who were more “acquaintances”, I think they just couldn’t understand it because it was completely out of their reality. To the average 19 year old, marriage is not even on the radar. Even my friends who had been in long-term relationships weren’t thinking of getting engaged until after college. They just couldn’t comprehend it.
Sometimes I look back and wish I could have had the normal “happy” engagement. When my cousins got engaged at 24, just a few years older than I had been, they were greeted with enthusiastic responses of “congratulations!” and “we are so happy for you!”. I wish I could have had that.
Even after I got married (up until I was about 23) I still got the shocked “what!?” response when people found out that I was married. That shock often lead to speechlessness when I said that I had been married since I was 20.
I for one am happy to be almost 25 and no longer be greeted with shock when I tell people I am married. It’s nice to be “normal”. Being an outlier can be hard.