Every day for the past week, it seems like someone I know has either announced that they’re engaged or that they’re pregnant. A girl I went to youth group with in high school just had her third baby. My middle school arch-nemesis just got engaged. A boy I sort-of dated four years ago is expecting a baby with his wife. The amount of baby- and wedding-related news in my Facebook news feed is mind-boggling.
It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t weirded out by all of it. Two years ago, if someone my age was getting married or having a baby, they were considered young. But now, at the ripe old age of twenty-four, it’s not simply socially acceptable, it’s normal. And when a life milestone of that magnitude becomes normal for a person your age, you can’t help but compare yourself to those who are collecting those milestones like pirate’s booty when you yourself don’t even have a map. Perhaps that sounds like a plea for pity, but it’s not, I promise: while I sometimes feel pangs of envy at other people’s engagements and pregnancies, I mostly feel like my life is more awesome for not having those things for myself.
I think what weirds me out the most is that if things had happened only slightly differently, that could have been me. I could be celebrating my first wedding anniversary this year, or I could be gestating a colloquial bun in my oven. And two years ago, that was exactly what I wanted! It just shocks me how much my dreams have changed since then: where I once saw a wedding and a husband and children, I now see travel and an advanced degree and the potential for a creatively satisfying career and freedom.
Does that sound selfish? Maybe it is. But I’m still going to call it freedom. Because this will be the only time in my life that I can move to Europe, or anywhere else in the world, without having to answer to anyone else. This will be the only time in my life where I can spend my money on whatever stupid thing I want because it’s my money and no one else’s. This will be the only time in my life where my identity is wholly my own, where I can be Kendall Goodwin without also being someone’s wife or someone’s mom. And I like all of that. I like being independent and I like doing things that I want to do and I like knowing that I’ll always be on time, and I want to hang on to that until I’m good and ready to let go because I know I will never have more freedom than I have right now. I want my twenties to be a monument to awesomeness, and I want to experience every adventure I dream of before my life is no longer just about me anymore. If I have kids, I want to have great stories to tell them, and I want them to be in disbelief that their lame mom could have done so many cool things. I want to wake up when I’m thirty-five and feel satisfied with my life instead of regretful at the things I didn’t get around to.
I don’t scoff at anyone my age who chooses to get married or have kids, and I don’t pity them either. I bet their lives are wonderful and miraculous in a way that I couldn’t possibly understand, but I also know that, at this point in my life, I’m not prepared to understand it. I’d probably like to get married someday, and the jury is still out on having children, but it’s all a long way off. So until then, here’s to not regretting what I didn’t do in my twenties.