At 21 years old, I have so many friends who are already talking about getting married or friends who are actually married – and here I am, about to graduate college in May, single as a Pringle. I don't even know what I’m going to do tomorrow, let alone for the rest of my life.
Marriage is the furthest thing from my mind right now. But as a brown (Pakistani) young woman born and brought up on Long Island in New York, culture plays a big role in this getting-married-in-your-early-twenties business.
What does being brown have to do with me getting married early, you might ask? Well, you would think in the year 2016 things would be different, but being brown in this era really hasn’t changed much from being brown in the 1970s. In our culture, girls are looked down upon if they aren’t engaged by 23 or 24 and married before they hit the age of 30. If you are a brown girl still single at age 25 or over, oh, boy, are you are in trouble. Why? Because you are past your "prime," meaning you’re getting old and the clock is ticking.
The brown community is a huge population, but at times, it seems like it's actually pretty small because all of us have mutual friends one way or another. If one person knows you’re still single, you are automatically on their radar, and if you are in your twenties, people will be reaching out to you left and right with potential matches. It’s like your very own internal team of matchmakers, except you never signed up for this obnoxious service in the first place.
People my age are getting engaged and married, and yes, I am happy for them, but I'm sad at the same time. I came into my twenties thinking of it as a brand-new chapter of my life, where I'd discover what I really want to do with my career and life. How will I do that if, right after college, that brand-new chapter is supposed to be marriage? Of course, I do have hopes for a big, fat Pakistani wedding when I find someone, but that's a long time from now. It has to be before I’m 30, according to the brown-girl handbook, but that means I have about four years to find a guy, and six years to get married. If I don’t make this deadline, I’ll pretty much be a lost cause to the brown community. It's a lot of pressure.
Arranged marriages are still a thing in 2016, but at least we’ve modernized that a little bit where we can “date” — sorry, “talk” to the guy for a while, as my mom puts it — and get to know him before we make a decision. Back in the day, the concept of dating never really existed. You would meet the guy, maybe talk to him for an hour or two, and make your decision right then and there. I give props to the people who had to do that because our generation is way too picky to choose a guy who you want to spend the rest of your life with in just one meeting. We basically get pictures and a little bio (honestly, it’s almost like a résumé) of who they are, what they do, likes and dislikes, what they want in a potential partner. I’m only 21. I have no idea what exactly I want in a guy, so I can’t put that in a little box. It seems impossible.
I have my own team of people trying to match me. This is typically every brown girl’s story, but at least I know for a fact that I'd need to date the guy for a good two to three years before I jump into a decision. I need to establish my career first and make something of myself, since marriage is no joke — which is why I don’t understand why people my age would even say yes. Like, come on — you’re 21. Go hop on a plane and travel. Make some bad decisions, and then learn from those bad decisions. Drink tons of caffeinated drinks, try every new thing you find on Groupon, eat tons of carbs, and then burn those carbs because being fit is all the rage. Go to a rave because once you hit 30, that'd be really weird to do. Just enjoy your life, because your twenties are a time you will never get back.
See you all at my wedding in six years! Maybe.
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