I Married Young And I Don't Regret It One Bit

I Married Young And I Don't Regret It One Bit

It was the biggest and best decision we ever made.

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I'll never forget sitting across from the dean of my department, one week away from college graduation. It was May 2008. I had just turned 21 the week before. It was only my third year of college, but I had racked up enough credits to graduate. In fact, I was there in her office to pick up my Summa Cum Laude tassel and talk about my academic performance. She marveled at my ability to cram a year's worth of courses into summer school and overloaded semesters, somehow graduating a year ahead of my peers.

She looked down at her folder, then back up at me. "Surely," she started, "You rushed through this last year so you could start your master's program early, right?" I smiled because, for all of the records she had in front of her and all the files she had in the cabinet behind her, she didn't know everything about me. She didn't know that I'd been engaged since the November before and I was thick in the process of planning my wedding, which was set to take place just a few months down the road on August 30. Exactly five years from the day my fiance and I went on our first date.

"Nope," I said with a smile, "I'm getting married!" I showed her my ring and she gave me a terse grin in reply. I was expecting a diatribe about why I was too young, why I shouldn't rush into it, why I should be like the rest of my friends, who were all in their dorms getting ready to go out for Thirsty Thursday at the local Western-themed dance saloon. Instead, she just closed my folder, gave me my tassel and told me she would see me on stage on Saturday.

The thing is, she didn't have to say anything. I had heard it all before. Your twenties are for your friends. They're for finding yourself, making those big mistakes, taking those leaps of faith, traveling as much and as often as you can, learning to navigate personal finances, staying up late, finding your footing in your career. They're for discovering who you really are, what you really want, and whether or not your hometown is the best place for you anymore.

I wanted to do all of those things. I just desperately wanted to do them with the love of my life.

I met my husband in high school; he was a junior and I was a sophomore. Our first date in August 2003 was the first time we'd ever spoken in person. It was the era of AOL Instant Messenger (may she RIP) and MySpace, where a single away message could mean the end of a relationship or the beginning of one. We chatted online for months, avoided each other in the hallway at school, and he finally asked me out to eat dinner, play Putt-Putt, and watch a movie at his house.

A few weeks later, it only took one big band concert on the lawn of the local library, under the stars one balmy September evening, and we were irrevocably intertwined.

I've never looked back. When he went away to college, I followed him to the same one. We created a mutual group of friends who would go to the dining hall together, stay up late cramming in the same book stacks, and chat on our futons until the nighttime turned into the sunrise. It was bliss but it was also really hard, sometimes- because there are pretty girls on campuses and pretty boys, too. We were both insecure and immature and it takes time for your heart to realize that jealousy only breeds contempt. We never split up, except for one weird summer when we ditched all labels, yelled at each other that we would do whatever we wanted, could see whoever we wanted, and might not get back together once the summer came to a close.

Those were just words. That lasted about a day. We spent the entire summer together anyway.

We married when I was 21 and he was 22. Since then, we've had a decade of memories together.

I've helped him train for a marathon, try new homebrewing trends, discover his innate ability to create any restaurant meal from scratch, and plant a garden every year in the same spot in our backyard. Along the way, we've changed careers a total of six times. We rented, then bought, our favorite little cottage in all the world, just miles from both of our parents. We've welcomed two babies and poured every ounce of love we share into our little family. In two weeks, we'll celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss, and 15 years of togetherness.

Do I regret marrying early? Not for a single second. The way I saw it, we already knew we were made for each other. I didn't need to get anything out of my system. He didn't want to sow any wild oats. We just wanted to get our lives started as soon as possible.

Is the route we took for everyone? Absolutely not. Do I think it was the best decision for us? Completely.

Literally, so hot RN

Literally, so hot RN

27 Country Songs That'll Make You Need Your Own Southern Boy

Once you fall for the South there is no going back.

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Barbeques on the 4th of July, pick-up trucks on a summer's country drive, and staring out at an endless sea of stars by a campfire are just a few of the luxuries of living in the South.

These only get better once you find yourself a southern gentleman - someone who's hard-working, puts family first, minds his manners, and upholds southern hospitality. If you don't believe me, then these country songs will make you change your mind.

I dare you not to fall for a southern gentleman.

1. Whatever It Is - Zac Brown Band

2. As She’s Walking Away - Zac Brown Band

3. Yes! - Chad Brock

4. Play It Again - Luke Bryan

5. She’s Everything - Brad Paisley

6. Then - Brad Paisley

7. Remember When - Alan Jackson

8. Wanted - Hunter Hayes

9. Friday Night - Eric Paslay

10. Carried Away - George Strait

11. Waitin’ On A Woman - Brad Paisley

12. The Trouble With Girls - Scotty McCreery

13. Stealing Cinderella - Chuck Wicks

14. It Won’t Be Like This For Long - Darius Rucker

15. Letters From Home - John Michael Montgomery

16. Could I Have This Dance - Anne Murray

17. I Keep On Lovin’ You - Reba McEntire

18. Kiss Me - Lucy Hale

19. Love - Jana Kramer

20. Johnny & June - Heidi Newfield

21. I Want Crazy - Hunter Hayes

22. My Wish - Rascal Flatts

23. Wild Child - Kenny Chesney 

24. Highway Don’t Care - Tim McGraw

25. God Made Girls - RaeLynn

26. For A Boy - RaeLynn

27. Love Me Like You Mean It - Kelsea Ballerini

Once you fall for the South there is no going back.

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How To Deal With Long Distance Over Winter Break

It's a long time, but don't panic.

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The Holidays are one of the most romantic times of the season. Snuggling up by the fire, touring Christmas lights downtown, and kissing under the mistletoe are all highlights we've come to adore.

Unless your significant other isn't home with you.

Being without your boo for the holidays is something no one should have to endure. It makes you feel lonely and left out, but it's not impossible to survive the season.

1. Surround yourself with friends and family

Christmas break is a long time to spend at home. Your other half not being there is a bummer, but try to focus on how often you see them in comparison to how little you see your friends and family back home. Hang out with your siblings, play board games, help cook desserts with your mother, go to the movies with your friends who went out of state. Make the most of the time that you have with them before you have to go back to campus.

2. Pick back up old hobbies you didn't have time for during classes

When you're taking a full load of classes, you have very little time spent to do anything else. If you also have a job, it's even less. Those passions that used to inspire you have been put on a shelf for far too long. Whether that;s painting, writing, running, photographing or whatever else, you deserve to pursue what sets your soul on fire. Spend a little bit of your extra free time at home by putting that as a priority.

3. FaceTime each other to catch up

Although being apart sucks, you still have to respect them spending time with their family. Communication might slip up a little, but odds are, they don't go home too often either. FaceTime each other on occasion to catch up on those lost face-to-face interactions you had during Fall semester. You'll get to see them even if you aren't able to spend time with them for the holidays.

4. Pick up some extra shifts at work

If you have a job, spending a little more time on the clock is a great way to kill some time and also make some good money while you're at it. No one really likes to work during the holiday season, but there are tons of openings for seasonal workers and other customer service jobs because of this busy time. Plus, since it's the season of giving, you might just get some fat tips for doing so.

5. Take a road trip to see your significant other

If you have a few days of freedom from the festivities of the season, hop in your car and don't let distance stand between the two of you. Whether you go to take part in some of their family's celebrations, to explore the Christmas lights in their hometown, or just to give them a big, tight hug, some time spent with your other half will be good for you. Make up for lost time and squeeze them a little bit tighter for when you have to go back home.

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