It surprises a lot of people that I am 22 and engaged. They quickly look at me with concern, even if they don’t intend to at first. Their puzzled looks don’t even insult me anymore because it has happened so many times. However, I still can’t get over their initial question of, “but why?”

I know that they don’t mean to be hurtful. They aren’t inherently trying to insult my life decisions, they are simply perplexed by the fact that I would “settle down,” so quickly. They think that contradicts what I stand for as a woman. However, what many people need to understand is that you can be married, unmarried or single and STILL be a feminist. You can still be a strong woman and experience everything in life that you so seek. You can still stand by a strong ideal-system unrelated to your personal relationship decisions. Let me explain.

My boyfriend and I started dating, the day, not the week or the month, but the day after we met. We met, fell in love, and quickly started a romance that is still blossoming to this day. A year after our meetup, we were in engaged. Now I know that the pace of this relationship was very fast, what some might even call on turbo speed, but it made me happy. No matter how against the grain or mainstream ideas of what a relationship should be, it’s my decision to make. And I continue to make it.

So, in my own opinion, it wasn’t settling down. If anything it was the complete opposite of settling down. Our long-distance relationship was filled with hopping on red-eye flights, spending money we didn’t have and having amazing, daring experiences like any young woman would do. and it was the most feminist thing I could do. I put myself first as a women, as a sexual being, and simply as a human.

However, recently all I see on social media from my peers is this reinforcement that “happiness isn’t finding someone else when you’re young.” But, what about all of the young women that are proud to be in a healthy, supportive relationship? What about all of the young women that are working hard and actively pursuing careers while still maintaining monogamous partners. Those women are feminists as well. They’re just as strong, adventurous and introspective as their single counterparts.  They’ve just made different choices and are entitled to that. Isn’t that what feminism is all about?

Our society likes to create boundaries. Just as there is fluidity in gender, sexuality, or self identification, there is fluidity in the concept of feminism as well in respect to relationships.

Feminism is an ideal system, meaning that no one woman has to fit any one part. Feminism is about writing your own story outside of the restrictions others set on you. That includes age and relationship decisions. 

The problem that we face is the constant need to explain. We feel like we have to explain why we’re married or why we’re single at different stage of life. We feel like that decision has to comply exactly with the framework of our ideals that others feel we need to fit into. But that’s untrue. It’s become so heinous that some of us need to explain why we’re happy. You don’t have to. 

So, proudly with my ring on my finger, I too can call myself one of the progressive and forward thinking feminist ladies that I aspire to be. I can be whoever I want to be and live the kind of life I’ve always wanted to, and so can you. 

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