Coming to college at the young age of 17, I was immediately thrust into a world centered on dating, which I was excited for—and had anticipated—but not prepared for. Not, at least, on the level I was being pressured to engage in.
I actually came to UVU with a steady boyfriend that I had dated for awhile. I thought nothing of it and just enjoyed dating and having fun. Then I then saw eyes of judgment and curiosity lurking around me.
The fastest question that came my way was when a ring was going to be on my finger and what we had planned for our marriage. Being so young, this appalled me but didn’t seem to be unusual to those surrounding me. Those were things I had not even thought of and didn’t want to be thinking about.
I quickly learned that due to the high population of LDS students and the culture within the Valley, short engagements and young marriages were all the rage. Although I am a part of the community and religion, I enjoy my college experience being just that, a college experience, not my wedding.
Of course I’m not opposed—as I’m now in my senior year—to serious dating for my friends or myself. I’ve have had several roommates, classmates and friends be married and even start families of their own, but it should be on their own time, not other people’s.
Being in my senior year and being friends with girls around the age range of 21-23, I notice them going into panic mode at their age and not being married.
I observe their thoughts of what is wrong with them, all of the good guys are taken already and hear their rants of when they go home and family or friends inquire about their dating life. Not questions about their classes, jobs or accomplishments—just their dating life.
There is strong influence in the cultural norm of dating in the area and allowing young adults—male and female—to feel insecure and rushed to find that person, when in reality those feelings shouldn’t exist.
These four years are the time to be independent, explore new opportunities, travel, make mistakes and learn from them.
After living a semester away and interning in NYC, I shared with the other interns that my 20-year-old girlfriend was engaged. With jaws dropped, our intern from London said, “20?…in London we get married at 40 and divorced a few years later.”
Everyone needs to be reminded that Orem and Provo—this Happy Valley—is not the whole world and there is life outside this bubble, as well as activities other than dating. Even in my Young Single Adult ward in New York City, people dated longer and got married older after they developed themselves more.
As I have come to terms with many of my friends being married, they are also starting to get pregnant. Which terrifies me, however I’m more terrified by the other friends and couples I’m well acquainted with filing for divorce. As heart breaking as it is, it doesn’t surprise me like it should.
With young adults rushing into relationships that are exclusive and saying “I love you” way too quickly, not enough time is allowed to truly know the person you are marrying. They say to date every season of the year to see your significant other react in different circumstances throughout the year.
No one should evaluate their self worth based on their dating life. Even while you are dating, take the time to enjoy it and get to know that person. I’m also at the age that I’m starting to know people getting divorced, which is heart breaking. So, take your time and enjoy your university experience.