I Divorced In My Twenties -- But That Doesn't Make Me A Failure

"This Is Divorce At..." is a HuffPost Divorce series delving into divorce at every stage of life. Want to share your experience of divorcing at a certain age? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com or tweet @HuffPost Divorce.

Joni Erdmann is 29. She's also divorced -- but that's not something she shouts from the rooftops.

"I’m more than OK with it, but I don’t think I have to walk around with a label of my status, no matter how much society wants me to," she says. "So many divorcés bring up the d-word because they think they have to. They assume people are wondering about it, so they bring it up to show that they are OK with it. I'm here to say you don't have to worry about it. Adopt -- or refuse to adopt -- any label you want."

Below, Joni, who blogs at Abandon Status Quo, tells us a little bit more about why she refuses to let divorce define her.

The Internet can be pretty surprising sometimes. The other day I discovered that the top search term to accompany my name was “joni erdmann divorce.”


Y’all love the sticky stuff, don’t ya? That’s OK -- I just don’t really talk about it. Being 29, most of my friends are getting married for the first time. So it feels almost inappropriate to bring it up: “Yeah I’m living proof that sometimes marriages end…but good luck, here’s some hand towels!”

I refuse to walk around with a label of my marital status. For example, I check the “single” box instead of “divorced" on forms. I find it hilarious that the form gods have created this useless box just to make fun us. “No, there aren't tax breaks for divorce, we treat you just like single people…but we want to know about it and make you check our arbitrary box.” Jerks.

“Divorcé” is a branding akin to a scarlet letter, shaming the bearer as if they did something wrong. Why are we so committed to stigmatize those who tried to commit?

How can we be so surprised when someone divorces, given all the pressure to get married? Each time we hear about a couple getting married we rejoice, “Congratulations! We're so happy for you!” I'm not suggesting we rejoice at the announcement of divorce, but when we hear the news of a split, why do we have to dramatically slap our hands to our faces and say, "How sad, they have been together for [insert years of adhesive glue]!”

People, divorce is not necessarily a bad thing.

At this point, I should insert the mandatory caveat. Some divorces are heavy and tragic. There are certainly those situations, but that's not true of all divorces. It wasn't of mine. We do the same thing with marriages and assume it’s the most romantic thing ever -- that happy rainbows are going to shoot out of the couple's eyeballs for the rest of their lives.

These assumptions are stupid and we need to knock it off. You can keep the happy rainbows but when people get divorced, it’s not always a terrible thing. Sometimes it’s a fantastic decision and life gets better for both parties after they stop killing themselves trying to make it work.

Look, I will never write a book on how to have a perfect marriage, just like I will never write a book on how not to fear spiders. But what I can say is how important it is to love whoever you're with -- and that includes yourself.

If you're like me and believed enough in marriage to try it out, maybe a little too hastily, don't allow society to make you feel bad about it. I’m single, not divorced with a capital D. I’m a charming, available woman, not a failure at marriage. Once you shed these oppressive titles and terms, you're free to dream again.

Life is too short to stop dreaming or be caught up in meaningless labels. I’ve shed mine and am excited about my future in love -- and maybe even marriage. I believe deeply in commitment and love, and my divorce hasn't warped that a bit. Everyone should get a fresh shot at marriage, even if you've tried it before.

Marriage is a celebration of love. Of all things to focus on, it should be love, not labels.

So next time you Google my name, change your search term to “joni erdmann blissfully happy.”

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