Once I went off to college, I became addicted to the feeling of independence and freedom. I met my African-American husband at a pool party at the age of 19. We eloped a little over a year later and now we have been married for close to 5 years. I am a straight up anomaly among my peers and I have recently come to the realization that I always will be.
This is my side of the story, free from society's corruption.
1. I have tougher skin than before.
Marriage has made me a strong willed, resilient, young woman. Growing up in a sheltered suburb of Jersey, I never had to deal with any hardships. I grew up as the youngest child in an upper-middle class family of 5. Marrying my husband was the first thing in my life that I had to fight for and I still am fighting for. I knew we were soulmates pretty soon after we met. When you know, you just know. And we both knew. Which is why we didn't see the point in waiting until we both graduated from undergrad and grad school before we blended our lives together (7+ years). We both were figuring out school, our military future (my husband was active duty Air Force when we met), adulting, careers, and life in general. I never doubted my decision or questioned my marriage because deep down it felt right, even if everyone on the outside didn't believe in us. You have to be so sure about a decision like this and even being sure doesn't shield you from what people all around you will say. We both dealt with hell once we got married. The things the people around me did were unforgivable, all in pursuit of splitting my husband and I up. Why? Because they don't know what it feels like to be 19, stumble upon your soulmate, and actually believe in love. People love to talk about timing and all the things you need to do before you settle down. But how do the forces of nature place your soulmate into your life when it is convenient for you? The timing will never be right. And if you are one of those millennials sitting here thinking, you need to graduate first or get a full-time job before you find yourself in a serious relationship. All I have to ask you is, who's timeline are you living on? I seized my moment when I knew that my other half had just walked into my life. And if you ever find yourself lucky enough to be sitting across from another individual and thinking, "this is my person," then I encourage you to seize your moment too. Love doesn't wait for anyone and if you're too blind to see it, then you don't deserve it.
2. I have more motivation than before.
I typically followed what my parents wanted me to do, from birth until the age of 18. However, early into my adulthood, I began to question if I wanted to sacrifice living my life to fit my parents' standards. I was uncomfortable knowing that I was doing what they wanted me to do, just because it satisfied their requirements. I didn't feel passionate about anything. I originally had no clue what I wanted out of life. But when I became independent and stopped having my parents help me with every single decision, that is when I found myself. I got to fail on my own miserably and then rejoice in my successes so greatly because I had nobody to thank for them, but myself. I had control over my life without the limiting influence of my parents. I am proud of my independence and the fact that I haven't asked my parents for one thing since the age of 20. Getting married young allowed me to detach from my sheltered nest so I could truly spread my wings, without the help of my parents. Putting myself and my marriage out into this world was the most vulnerable thing I have done, but it also unleashed this level of drive that I didn't know existed within myself. I have been at the bottom and I have felt it beat me up. I experienced not having any money to buy food, not having any mode of transportation, not knowing if I would be able to start my next semester of college because I had no way to pay my tuition bill, and struggling to pay my rent. I don't ever want to go through those experiences again. I cannot deny that those situations are what made me strong and made me unafraid to go through the bullshit that life requires, in order to bask in the golden moments. My marriage has made me more motivated to succeed in this world and I am more driven to do so on my own terms.
3. I have more adventures than before.
Everybody likes to think that once you get married, your life is over. No more crazy nights, no more spontaneity, and no more adventure. This could not be more false. My life has only gotten crazier, is filled with more spontaneous days and nights, and more adventures. The best part is I get to share the good times and the not so good times with my best friend. Of course it is not always 100% perfect or easy, but life is also not meant to be this way. We have experienced some dark times together, but I truly believe that has made our good times, the best. There are days that go completely as planned and then there are other days where we find ourselves road tripping in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, camping under the desert night sky, or hiking waterfalls in Yosemite. There are times where we have spent all day reading and writing in Central Park, talking to each other for hours at the beach, or laying in bed literally all of Sunday. There are times where we have spent hours in the Sukh markets of Dubai, eating mangoes on the streets of India, or getting lost in a Tanzanian village. My point is that marriage is the most unpredictable ride of life- no two days are the same and that is what makes it, the greatest adventure of all.
4. I have more support than before.
I always have one person by my side. When everyone else leaves me hanging, my husband is always supporting me in every one of my endeavors. I have another human being that wants to see me do well and is not afraid to provide me with their honest opinions. Before I got married, I had familial support, but only in areas that were convenient for them. Now, I have someone who supports me, for me. My husband not only loves me, but he embraces me, and he accepts everything positive and negative about me. He has never tried to change me or force me into society's judgemental box. He is supportive of the raw and authentic me. At the end of a long, brutal day, I can always walk into our loving home and feel better about everything. Even if I am in the worst mood possible, when I see his face, I get excited and cannot help but smile. His warm embrace of understanding makes me feel loved and supported even when the world shows me hate. I always have someone on my team rooting for me.
5. "We look at each other and we smile that smile, like a secret we share. We both know we've found what the whole world is searching for."
If you find yourself in a similar situation to me, my heart goes out to you because I can relate to you and your struggles. And if you are somebody who has gotten to the end of this article and still don't understand where I am coming from, then I want to thank you for being open to my perspective and I wish you nothing but luck in finding your soulmate.