Yes, I'm Young and Married
March 7th, 2018
I got married at 24. Yes, that’s younger than average (which is 27 for women in the US and 30 for women in the UK, FYI). Yes, I was sure of my decision. No, I don’t have any regrets, and I’m as sure as I can be that I never will.
However, many people took it upon themselves to question my decision for me. I repeated over and over again that no, I wasn’t pregnant, and yes, I was aware of the commitment I was making. One congratulations card simultaneously congratulated and doubted us as we were wished happy year(s) together.
Almost three years post-wedding, people always congratulate me on my engagement when they see my ring. This ends in me awkwardly explaining that I’m married, and no, the wedding wasn’t recent.
While the questions are frustrating and reinforce the stereotypes of who us millennial, twenty-something women are meant to be, they don’t upset me. I had to quickly learn to disregard them and trust myself. But what did upset me was when this question came face-to-face with my career.
I had a phone interview with a potential future boss. She was asking me where I lived and what I liked to do. I mentioned something about my husband. There was a silence. And then:
I repeat mundane sentence where I mention “my husband”.
“Wait, what, wait, you’re married? What?”
“Um, yes, yes I’m married.”
“Oh, wow. Okay. How old are you?”
“Um, I’m, um 25.”
“And you’re married?”
“Oh. I wasn’t expecting that. You’re so young to be married. That’s crazy.”
“Um. Yeah. Sorry.” Awkward silence. The interview moved crankily forward.
When I hung up I burst into tears. That questioning had nothing to do with the job. That questioning was unnecessary. That questioning made me feel vulnerable, as if I’d done something wrong, and I had doubted myself.
Nobody should have to defend their relationship status. It is what it is. You are who you are. What you do, who you live with, who you date, who you marry (and when and whether you do), is up to you.
A potential employer (well anyone really, but especially an employer), has no business questioning, or judging your relationship status. Whatever it is, it doesn’t need defending or explaining. And you should never feel guilty about it.
This interviewer made me feel like I had to defend myself. I didn’t even manage to do that. Instead, I felt embarrassed and apologized. I didn’t conform to her expectations of me, and so said sorry for not being who she’d assumed I was.
After a cry, many deep breaths, a cup of tea (I’m British. Tea is always the answer.), and a walk round the block, I let the emotions settle and release.
What did I learn? I was not in the wrong. She was. While I do need to stand up for myself, I don’t need to apologize for myself. I hadn’t done wrong or broken any rules. This is who I am and no questions should make me doubt that.
If someone questions something about you, that’s a reflection of their self-doubt, their issues, and their vulnerabilities. Not yours. Let them deal with their shit and use it as an opportunity to empower yourself. Don’t apologize for who you are. Be in whatever relationship you want to be. Be whoever you want to be. And whatever it is, don’t be sorry.