Looking to the end of the week, IÃm all set to celebrate another birthday. The years feel like they are slogging by. But at the same time, I canÃt help but wonder: How old am I getting?
ItÃs not like IÃm seeing the beginning of crowÃs feet, or IÃm asking the same question to the same person two or three times. But with two of my good friends already married with children, I feel like IÃm getting to the point where people are expecting me to do the same. Not only that, but I sort of feel like IÃm expecting me to do the same.
Think about your high school class. How many of them are in serious relationships or even married? How many have kids, a career, a life unrelated to Ybor City and research papers? Maybe itÃs because IÃm from a smallish town, but it feels like everyone I know is doing the domestic shuffle. Even if you donÃt know where your high school classmates lie in lifeÃs pretty picture, I can guarantee quite a bit more than you think are married and expecting. Probably the people you least expected it from, too.
Are we coming to that age when our parentsÃ friends start asking them when weÃre going to settle down? Are the elders sending us subliminal messages when they remark over the phone how cute RachelÃs baby on Friends is?
There was a time when we thought weÃd be all set by 25: good career, stable relationship, maybe even a kid or two. But looking around this campus, 25 seems to be the pinnacle of fun and freedom. You tend to forget your own age, because it just feels young. So that begs the question Ã³ when? When do we settle down? Is there a cutoff point?
And if there is, indeed, a cutoff point, will we make it? Is any 20-something singleton out there ready to put the entertainment that is college behind them?
Who made these rules to begin with, anyway? ItÃs cute to think about our grandparents married at 18. Our parents were part of the generation that waited a while, but not too long. But why do we sometimes feel the need to become domestic quicker than perhaps we want to?
These years are supposed to be the best of our lives. This is the time for experimentation and discovery. WeÃre supposed to get to know ourselves before we let ourselves become part of a more permanent Ã¬us,Ã® right?
So why the pressure? Maybe because one of my ex-boyfriends is engaged and the other just moved hundreds of miles away to be with someone else. Maybe because a life away from homework and study groups seems idealistic in your fifth year of college. Maybe because we just want someone to hold our hand in the movie theater.
To be settled or not to be? Does loneliness drive us to hear a ticking clock, when in reality the countdown hasnÃt even started yet? Perhaps what looks good to us does so because itÃs different from what we know.
So the ultimate question presses us: Is it OK to be alone Ã³ at my age? And the answer, of course, is yes. Because we have our whole lives to belong to someone else; this time is ours.
Jessica Higgins is a junior majoring in mass communications.