Get Off My D(ivorce): I'm 24 and It's OK

My personal life is healthy and challenging. I am learning to embrace quality over quantity in all of my relationships. I recycle (most of the time). I will forever believe that Michael Keaton is the best Batman. My 25th birthday is in a few weeks. I am divorced.
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I'm doing quite well, even though I'm having a bad hair day. I felt pretty awesome yesterday, too. I am happy professionally and academically. My personal life is healthy and challenging. I am learning to embrace quality over quantity in all of my relationships. I recycle (most of the time). I will forever believe that Michael Keaton is the best Batman. My 25th birthday is in a few weeks. I am divorced.

Stifled gasp.

As news of my divorce spreads and spreads -- as it tends to do, because what happens within a marriage rarely stays between the two people in the marriage -- I've been asked a series of questions that are equal parts invasive and silly. I'm a fairly candid person. I am personable, sarcastic and easily wounded. These character traits have been exacerbated as I find myself sifting through questions that rattle me ad infinitum.

Questions like, "Weren't you only married like 10 months?" and "Why don't you seem sad?" and "Don't you feel like you've failed? I would." and "Yikes! You're dating already?" Questions causing both temples to throb a bit, the small vein embedded in the middle of my forehead making itself known. Questions on my Facebook page, waiting impatiently in my inbox, popping up on iMessage, prying and absent of tact and compassion, waiting for an unmerited reply. Questions that make me excuse myself so that I can cry quietly in the bathroom, being sure to reapply my eyeliner quickly, smiling at my reflection unhappily.

Despite the migraines such things can bring, I cannot control what anyone thinks or feels. This isn't an easy concept to grasp, at all, not even a tiny bit, but I'm working on it. (Thank you, therapy.) I don't plan on swaying you, changing you, or preaching at you. That's not my style. You have to do you.

Gee, Cindy, that's so progressive of you!

The thing is, nobody goes into a marriage thinking it will end in divorce. That would be awfully gloomy -- almost as gloomy as staying in a relationship that doesn't reward you or push you to be better -- don't you think?

Regardless, marriage doesn't come with a clause that states you cannot make mistakes, change your mind, grow apart, have several existential crises or decide you'd just rather... not.

None of this has anything to do with the sanctity of it all. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I entered into a marriage, albeit too quickly, because it was my understanding at the time that it was the right thing to do. With just the precise amount of work and enthusiasm it would all be lovely and perfect.

I have spent a not-so-better part of my life doing what has been expected of me. I often struggled to bend and mold myself into the peculiar, and unfamiliar, figure everyone whispered, and screamed, that I should be. There were many times I questioned my actions, my future and my bangs, but instead told myself to STFU.

Oh, Cindy, be reasonable.

People were depending on me. There were many cakes to taste, tulle dresses to swirl around in, Pinterest boards to make, stamps to lick and money to spend, spend, spend. Consider all the babies you'll have! Should the groomsmen wear vests? Don't play too much R&B during the reception because your grandparents will be incredibly offended.

Of course, I am not completely naïve. Yes, throughout the planning process I found myself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, hopeful and dedicated. I smiled when the sun hit my diamonds just right. My soon-to-be husband was extremely helpful and enthusiastic. When our wedding day arrived we posed for endless photographs and spoke calmly, without complete understanding, of our future together.

However, I was quickly disillusioned. Not because we weren't trying hard enough, but instead because it just wasn't working. Simply, we didn't want the same things.

Audible gasp.

The Real World has it right (and don't they always?): You think you know... but you have no idea.

You just don't. And that's OK, man! Life is a complicated little number. People evolve and grow and change, and it's terrifying. That's the beauty of it all.

But, Cindy! Excuse me, Cindy? Where is your sense of romance and the fairy tale ending? Have you ever watched a Disney film, goddamn you?

Ah, yes. There were many times I thought I would never again take a deep breath without sobbing. I absolutely felt like a failure. Hours spent at the kitchen table deliberating our next steps left me feeling drained and helpless. Because when you're in a relationship, you build a life that is more than just yours alone. It tends to be equal parts grueling and exciting. Why wouldn't you take it personally when it isn't successful?

It's almost intolerably sad when significant things cease to exist. I was miserable when Friends ended, but I managed to pick up the pieces of my life and carry on. How? One day at a time.

I've read a few articles recently that round out my experiences quite nicely. It was comforting to know I'm not the only one (Because of course not. No matter how much you convince yourself that you are totally alone in your life experiences you rarely are.) It's unsurprisingly easy to doubt yourself, to loathe yourself, to stay in bed eating Oreos (BBQ chips and most of a cheesecake) and consider never turning on your phone again. Although each experience is unique and painful in its very own way, one thing resounds: You are so not alone. Not even close.

I haven't failed -- although every now and then I feel a deep pang of disappointment that I wasn't the one to carry Ryan Gosling's firstborn.

I don't have anything to apologize for. I have incredibly wonderful friends. I'm happy to be in my 20s. I am excited for my life.

I'm divorced.

It's OK. Actually, it's more than OK.

So am I.

And I hope you are, too.

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