It was a scene I had pictured happening far into the future: standing in a nondescript chain bridal store, staring at my reflection in a deep pink bridesmaid dress, deciding on an outfit for my best friend's wedding.
Although the shock of this notion had worn off months ago, it is still strange to see it actually come to fruition.
I remember when she called and told me that she was engaged. "That's so exciting!" I said, at first. When I had heard that the wedding would not take place somewhere in the distant, vague future, but instead just a few weeks after our college graduation, I was taken somewhat more aback.
'We're so young,' I thought. From my vantage point, at least, I didn't feel a shred like the real adults I associated with the idea of marriage. I spend my days hurriedly writing papers or watching TV reruns with my housemates, nourished by peanut butter sandwiches - a far cry from the lawn-mowing, business-suit-wearing people I had imagined we would be when it came time to pick out a toaster for her bridal shower.
Sure, since high school, we've grown up a little, putting cable bills in our name and slowly learning how to survive on our own, but did that make us ready to sign on to something as permanent (in theory) as marriage?
It seems like most college students are hardly able to commit to changing their Facebook status to "In a Relationship," let alone the notion of waking up next to the same person for the rest of their lives. And that's OK - don't our late teens and 20s exist for just that, a chance to enter the world and make mistake after glorious mistake, to remember them, and cringe and laugh the next morning and 10 years down the road?
When I voiced these thoughts to my friend, she replied, "I don't plan on dating anyone else, so I just want to get married now." Though her logic seemed valid, I wondered how she could be sure of her plans now, at a point in which personalities, interests and goals seem to shift by the year.
Maybe in the face of uncertainty, a ring on your finger provides some existential comfort. I'm sure that I'm not the only person terrified of the prospect of life beyond the limits of Geneseo.
Is marriage, and moreover, the act of pinning down a constant among the myriad variables of post-college life, the antidote for our anxieties? Maybe my friend is right; she's with the person she wants to be with and therefore doesn't need to waste any more time making those aforementioned mistakes of our formative years.
Ultimately, it comes down to what we want. Though I can't picture myself at the altar in the immediate future, I'll be proud to stand next to my friend in that bridesmaid dress as we both enter the so-called real world exactly as we like.