Encroaching now upon seniors is the impending doom of the “real world.” They must now etch their own path in the “out there” and approach life as adults. While this may yet be a semester away, believe me, it’s on all ’07’s minds. For many, growing up requires a job, paying rent without mom and dad’s help or just stepping outside the comfort zone for the first time. For others, however, this transformation into adulthood takes an entirely different form – marriage.

I have recently encountered this extreme notion. While I am nowhere near even thinking about it, it appears that all of my closest friends from high school are leaping into marriage. Of a group of my seven closest girlfriends, five are either engaged or married as seniors in college. In the next six months, I will be attending four weddings. And of the seven of us, I am the only one who thinks they are cutting their life short.

Sure, each culture and, more specifically, each individual encounters this inclination at a different time. Yet each of these women are seizing it and, in my opinion, doing so rather suddenly. No older than 22, they have sabotaged opportunities to explore their independence, travel abroad or confront and conquer life-changing experiences.

Not only am I the only one not even thinking about marriage, I am the only who is entirely freaked out by the idea. Life, as I see it, is meant to be explored and challenges to be tackled. Sure, married life has its own challenges too, or so I hear.

But it seems that those challenges should be saved for a later era, after graduate school, travel and, well, the defeat of individual trials. College, and the time immediately after, is all about exploring the individual. Isn’t it?

Certainly, there are individuals reading this editorial who fit the profile of my high school friends. My intention is not to bash marriage or label young marriages as immature, but rather to point out how large life is. And while each individual is unique, each relationship is also unique. Some relationships naturally progress to marriage as soon as both individuals are independent enough to sustain it.

One of my close friends has been in the same relationship since eighth grade and, as a senior in college, marriage is the next logical step for their relationship. On the other hand, another friend of mine eloped as a junior in college just for fun. In her scenario, I feel entirely in line to point out her radical behavior and the opportunities she has extirpated.

While I am sure marriage does not inhibit the individual from reaching his or her fullest potential, and, in fact, may foster such growth, it seems that many budding experiences may not grow to full fruition. We are all still young – life is ours for the taking, and experiences await each of us that will cause us to become strong, unique individuals.

Ricketts is a member of the class of 2007.

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