Social Pressures of Growing Up

It’s when you hit your late twenties that it really starts (although for some maybe it’s even sooner). Your social media feed repeatedly refreshes with photos of sparkly engagement rings and staged posts announcing a baby on the way. This can cause some major anxiety if your personal life hasn’t moved along as quickly as your peers’. You may find yourself questioning why these things aren’t happening for you.

These life changes can bring up a multitude of emotions and even make you reconsider the life plan you once devised for yourself. How do you handle the pressure when it feels like everyone around you is moving full steam ahead with their lives? Does this bother you enough to become that girl after the ring? Or does this motivate you to set yourself apart from your peers; determined to fulfill personal goals before settling down?

  • Now tha i live in a small town, i feel the pressure from some people to settle down and have kids. To be honest i dont want them that much. When i was with my ex, i could see i would want some someday but now that im single i dont think about that. I do want to get married, but ill have to find a nice guy, and i havent found anyone near my ex in terms of how i want my future husband to be. So for now, i focus on myself!

  • the legal career girl

    I’m only 21, but I’m already feeling the pressure! It’s surprising to me how many of my high school and college friends have gotten engaged recently, following college graduation. While on one hand, I’m definitely not ready for that kind of commitment, some part of me wonders if I’m lagging behind in life.

  • Ronisha

    I feel the pressure just like most other girls would. I want to get married but not now. I’m only 20 and my friend friends from high school are either married, have kids, or both. I feel that I haven’t truly lived yet, so many things that I want to do before I decide to settle down. Plus just because every one else is getting hitched doesn’t mean that its in the cards for me right now.

  • Dija

    I am in my late twenties and have been pressured since I was 20! I does seem like all around me everyone I know is getting engaged and married. However I am willing to wait for the ring and focus on my relationship and career to be in the right course so then I can think about starting a marriage and family. Very few people lack a lot in their relationship before they get married, I don’t want to be in that situation. So I don’t mind waiting.

  • Sun274

    I’m 24 and I still consider that to be young. I have had a couple of people on my newsfeed get engaged, but most of the people in my circle are still trying to figure out life like me. Many are in graduate school or medical school and aren’t thinking about those things yet. I feel so busy and overwhelmed with school work and working at the same time that I can’t even imagine getting married or having children. It actually TERRIFIES me with the time commitment and expenses of both weddings and children, which tells me I’m not ready and that’s okay. To be honest, I don’t worry about it too much. However, I am in a long term relationship with an amazing guy who is definitely husband material 🙂 But personally there’s just no rush.

  • Kat

    At 29 this is my life. I have about 8 or so best friends who either are married, have a new home, or a baby. I am a happily single lady that actually enjoys being on my own path. It’s refreshing to be on your own course with confidence. I wouldn’t want a baby or even a husband right now, I’m focused on my career and enjoying the city life. One day in a few years that time will come, but for now I’m enjoying my me time. once everything else happens, i can laugh at the chaos of crazy kids and balancing a marriage and a career. Life is all about enjoying the moment you are in and the journey.

  • I’m genuinely excited for my friends growing up, getting married, having babies, etc. I just know that I’m not ready for any of those stages in life. I’m still single but the whole single-hood has helped me enjoy who I am and where I am as an independent individual. Of course, I may have jealously here and there, but that’s human. Things will unfold in due time for me and I’m going to enjoy the during instead of constantly striving for the end.

  • I think it’s important to think about your individual path – your choices, your preferences, your goals. Those are unique and they’re all yours so at the end of the day, it’s impossible for you to compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t stress it and put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Take a second and just breathe and be aware of and proud of your path.

  • musical capricorn

    I’m 22 and I’m single, childless and I am just starting in my career field. I get pressure all the time from my parents, family and friend (and even oddly strangers!) to settle down and start a family. I’ve lost a lot my friends and people I knew in the past because I wasn’t living my life like them, I especially lost my female friends. I used to be upset about it and felt like I was being left behind or that I was moving too slow with my life; But now I’ve gotten tired of not feeling good enough. So now,it’s either you like me and wanna be friends with me for who and the way I chose to live or you don’t. And you if you there’s always somebody who will. Beside, these things in life you can’t make them happen, they only when it’s time and the way they’re supposed to happen.

  • Maddie

    I’m 27 and single, and pretty much all of my friends, minus one, are married, engaged, or in serious relationships. I have had a very tough time in the last year or so with this and have been feeling very lonely. However, I really try and remind myself everyday that timing is everything and one day that will happen for me.

  • Taylor Jacob

    I felt like this during college as some of my older friends started to settle down right away. I’ve always been the single one and the best thing I ever did was move to LA where I don’t feel as in such a rush.

  • Aly

    Goodness me, this is attempts to be so well intentioned but is so condescending. How do I deal with my life not “moving full steam ahead” if I’m not married or having babies? Language like this is just reinforcing the social pressure for women.

  • Ashley

    For me, the pressure only comes from other people. I’m 27, single, and happy but it’s sometimes hard to hold onto that when you are constantly asked questions like “Are you dating anybody?” from family, friends, and coworkers. It’s frustrating.

  • Jamie

    As an engaged 22-year old, it is so refreshing to see comments from people who are focused on other things rather than bemoaning their friends who are getting married or having babies. Everyone has different goals and it’s nice that we can embrace other people’s choices even if it’s not what we’d choose for ourselves.

  • Jama

    I was blessed to find my husband in college and we were married when we were 23 (we are 27 now). You would think that after getting married the social pressures would be less, but for us it has been worse. We have been pressured to have children almost the entire time we have been married. We have lost many friends over this. We want children, we just want to do a few things first. I don’t understand why it is so important for others to tell you when you should get married or have children. Both of these are personal choices and ones that should not be rushed into.

  • Erin

    It def never changes. I’m 30, married with two kids and now it’s the pressure to appear to be the most fun, most crafty, best wife and mom who does it all and handles it well. Who appears to be very patient with perfect kids, lots of money to have an amazing wardrobe, your house looks like it belongs in a magazine and you go on great trips. Who knows through social media what’s real and what isn’t but I feel like a crappy mom daily after having a rough day with my kids and I for real have a messy house and am still looking nasty in pjs that I’m not as amazing as all the ones with their perfect lives on Instagram. It’s a hard world now to be confident and comfortable with yourself!

  • Gabriela

    I think every girl feels the pressure to do what their family and society expects, which is to marry and immediately start a family. Fortunately for us, the ones that are still not even remotely close to that, times have changed. As long as we have a plan, and feel confident about it everyone else and their opinions are insignificant. At the end of the day the only person you have to make happy is yourself, and we should never submit to decisions based on pleasing others.

  • allison

    I do what I want and don’t pay attention to where other’s are in their lives! I have friends who are dear to me, and sometimes our lives are in alignment and sometimes our lives are on different paths. We come and go and love eachother and celebrate eachother’s accomplishments and hopes and dreams.

    • Maggie

      There are all kinds of social pressures, and they can be from people around us or they can come from within. When I turned 30 I did struggle with many friends being coupled up, buying houses, starting families. No one pressured me – it was just my own hopes or desires, something I really wanted, not panning out. (I feel you Maddie!) I think it takes courage to admit that it’s hard sometimes when everyone around you is in a place you’d like to be. It took me a while but I eventually let go and accepted my path is going to be what it is, turned my focus and attention away from others’ lives and onto my own value, and I nourish my relationship with myself and my dearest friends.

      I’ve had to come to terms with a very different social status struggle in the last year, dealing with serious fatigue illness and not leaving the house a lot! No chance of ‘keeping up’ in my scenario, so completely letting go of it is essential.

      It may not affect everyone, but I like this topic because this is a legitimate issue for some and anyone working through it shouldn’t feel bad. Valuing yourself regardless is key!

  • Ryann Warlick

    I’m 28 and single, and am struggling because I neither have a husband nor career plans. I decided to return to school because I truly have no long term plans except being a homemaker. I have single friends with career plans, and I think that’s fantastic, but that’s just not me. But I’d rather be alone and happy than have a ring on my finger. I think the thing I feel left out with the most are the couples only things, nice dinners at friends houses, a plus one on wedding invitations, even just someone to eat with or hang out with, the things people in relationships still enjoy. My friends don’t intentionally leave me out, but there are some things I don’t get to experience because I’ve never had a serious boyfriend.

  • Lauren

    I’m one of those girls who married her high school sweetheart at 22. Several of my friends also got married young so that wasn’t the part where I feel pressure. Now, it’s home time! I feel so much pressure to have a beautiful home, a bigger home, a home with a garage, a home with 3+ bedrooms… I’m finding that at 26, my biggest struggle with a “social pressure” is with jealousy and wanting things that we don’t need yet.

    • Natalie

      lol well i’m still living at home at 24…so not to worry you’re way ahead of me 🙂

  • Ashlie Lund

    Oh my goodness. I am 26 and have felt the pressure slowly building for the past few years, and it all started the summer after graduation. I think there were 9 marriages during that time, and just this past Valentine’s Day I ran into my last single friend from college who I hadn’t seen since then and he updated me on HIS upcoming wedding. Its not that I mind my single life right now and the path I am on (it feels right); what can feel hard at times is feeling alone in that. Its tough finding other single women in the same boat.

    • katie

      I completely agree with you on this. I’m also 26 and single. And while being single right now feels like it fits, it’s also sometimes unbearable. And because none of my friends are single, it’s hard to have anyone to talk to. Especially when I feel like a lot of the time I have pressure from them to be the “fun single one” who goes out on tons of dates and has great stories, and not the girl who is sometimes genuinely, immensely sad over being alone.

  • Sabrina

    I am a 28 year old female living in Chicago and I have never ONCE felt pressure to settle down. The thought of legally binding my relationship actually freaks me out. We both are very career driven and comfortable with our “slowly” evolving long term relationship. With divorce rates up over 50% today – how can anyone think that less than 5 years of an adult relationship ((defined: A relationship that occurs AFTER the 2 years of post-grad confusion)) is enough to “know” he/she is the one you want to be with for the next 50 plus years? I’ve never been more content in my life, and that has a lot to do with cutting out the “noise” of so-called societal norms.

  • My close girlfriend just got engaged on Valentine’s Day. I didn’t feel jealous, but I did feel anxious. It caused me to reflect on where I should be at 26. But then I started thinking how far I’ve come in my career and how much I love living alone in my first apartment. We all move to the beat of our own drum. We all have different priorities. The wonderful thing is we have so many options, the hard thing is we have to choose. And you can’t have everything all at once. So I’m thankful for what I’ve achieved, and I’m sure marriage is a few chapters ahead. Everyone’s story is different.

  • Keedeedee

    Honestly, I’ve never really felt that much pressure. I’m 27, and it’s really been in the past two years that my peers have really started to get engaged (although, there was a group that got engage really soon after we turned 22; but then there was a lull). The only people I know with babies are a few years older than me. When I was in a long term relationship a couple of years ago, I did here the occasional odd comment, (mostly directed towards my boyfriend, not me). I do feel kinda “behind” every time someone my age buys a house. At first it was my friends in cheaper housing markets, but now my DC friends have started buying places–I feel so far behind in terms of savings.

    • Claire

      don’t worry, a lot people that seem like they have a lot of $$$ saved up actually do not and are living way above their means. and even if they do, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue doing what you’re doing! you just keep saving, it will be worth it and then they’ll be the ones wondering why they didn’t save more in the first place!! 🙂 🙂

  • Vicky

    I sort of feel it, but at the same time, I don’t. Many of my friends are married, have significant others, and have babies. I love learning about relationships and growing a family by watching them. I kind of feel pressured to have that too, especially when I get the occasional, “You will make a great girlfriend/wife/mother.” But, I have a great group of single friends. We don’t complain about not having a spouse. We can just hang out and be present with each other.
    That being said, I do feel pressure from society/media. If I am supposed to be like the people on television, I must be in pursuit of a man and if he is not in my life, I should be a wreck and unhappy. I still we live in a very Jane Austin-like world, where your life would be over if you weren’t married by 21.

  • Speaking “against the crowd” as a person who is 25, married almost 2 years, with an 8 month old and a small business owner- it could surely sound like those of us who have made big decisions have it all figured it out. I want you to know that most of us definitely do not!

    Financial struggles, pressure that once you get married you should automatically have a house, questions about when baby 2 is going to be arriving, people assuming that owning a business makes you a billionaire, the list goes on. All I want to say is that no matter where you are in your life, there will always be struggles and learning experiences. Enjoy it!

  • Georgia

    I just turned 25 and feel A LOT of pressure to settle down. I was raised in a traditional Greek household where the woman’s main priority in life to find a good Greek man to marry. It is very difficult to block this “noise” and really focus on my goals in life. Sometimes I wish someone could tell me that I’m exactly where I am meant to be in life and there is nothing to worry about. I have a great job in NYC, travel all the time, date different people, plan on moving to Europe for grad school, yet get pity because “I don’t have anyone”. What I have learned is that you need to be confident in yourself and really focus on your own goals in life. Everyone has different goals at different ages and its unfair to judge others. I find myself getting defensive when others ask me lot of personal questions, but the best way to respond is with humor and you share as much as you want. I am in no way ready to settle down in my 20s and that it okay with me. If I happen to meet a great man, I would be happy, but I don’t need to feel sorry for myself when I have so many other great things going on for me. When you are driven and work towards your dreams, I believe that everything falls into place at the right time.

    • musical capricorn

      I agree 100%

  • jweist

    I was in my late twenties and is going to be in thirties for the next years, but still this things doesn’t happen to me yet either… but i dont mind these things to happen to me yet.. I dont care if this will happen to me or not from this moment of time yet.. What i was in my mind was the small business i was starting right now. I was going to need more tips and principles in handling a computer and social media business.. I was visiting Bolem sites and find it very useful. *wink*

  • Casey Gawler

    After recently getting out of a seven and a half year relationship, I realize how much life can change before you know it. I once had a dream and a plan of how I thought everything was going to be. I do find that although it’s scary, its comforting to know that life doesn’t go in the same trajectory as you might imagine. That’s what is so great about life sometimes. You never know what you’re going to get.

    My timeline is now not what I had expected and that’s OK with me because my life doesn’t need to follow the same trend as everyone else’s. Yes, it gets lonely knowing you are a single girl in a pool of newlyweds, but that’s my life.

  • Casey Gawler

    After recently getting out of a seven and a half year relationship, I realize how much life can change before you know it. I once had a dream and a plan of how I thought everything was going to be. I do find that although it’s scary, its comforting to know that life doesn’t go in the same trajectory as you might imagine. That’s what is so great about life sometimes. You never know what you’re going to get.

    My timeline is now not what I had expected and that’s OK with me because my life doesn’t need to follow the same trend as everyone else’s. Yes, it gets lonely knowing you are a single girl in a pool of newlyweds, but that’s my life.

  • photo by andria lindquist 😉

  • Erika

    I am 28, soon to be 29 in a few months, and recently engaged. Any of the pressure I was feeling regarding getting married, having kids, etc. has always been self-inflicted. I have friends at various stages (some with kids, some with husbands/ fiancés, some with husbands/ fiancés AND kids).

    While I cannot speak for any of you all, I know that this pressure is real and most women I am close with have dealt with it or are dealing with it. Depending on the vision of your life at 29 that you painted for yourself at 17 or 18, major adjustments need to be made. Even now that I am engaged to my wonderful fiancé, I am not where I thought I would be now. And that’s fine. It’s about setting new goals and expectations and making sure those are the right fit for you.

  • Andria Lindquist

    Hey there, glad you like my image! Would just like you to add a proper photo credit please. Thank you!

    • Apologies, Andria! We added your link! It’s a lovely photo – your work is beautiful. Thank you for letting us use it!

  • I definitely felt that pressure as I hit my mid 20s. I think the important thing is to remember that getting engaged is different from staying married. it’s better to take you time and settle down once.

  • Sapphire

    I’m 20 and already am feeling the pressure. Not so much to settle down and have kids but to be in a relationship (I haven’t been for a while) and move out of my parents home. It doesn’t help that my colleges are all happily married with children. However I am continuing to ignore everybody else’s ideas of where I should be and with whom. I am focusing on building my career, I personally just want to be successful and happy… single or not.

  • Emilee Rayburn

    There is definitely pressure to get married and have babies when you live in small town Alexandria, La, but my career is just beginning, and I like the idea of surprise. I don’t know yet what my future holds. There could be: travel, babies, no babies, marriage, no marriage, master’s, or no master’s, etc…
    Sure it would be nice if my boyfriend of 3 yrs. surprised me with a beautiful ring, but I want it to be pure surprise. Not something I’ve expected or pressured him to do.

  • Ashley

    I don’t feel any pressure from my friends (I’m 23) but I am constantly being barraged with questions from older co-workers “when are you going to get married?”, “when are you going to have kids?” or when I’ve just met someone they feel it’s ok to brazenly ask me “do you have kids?”… I find it completely out of order. It’s no-one’s business when I choose to have children or choose to get married and that’s whether or not I actually choose to. I might decide against it!

    I want to face these issues when I’m in my 30s, right now I need to focus on earning money and having a solid career before I can even consider children or marriage. Sheesh.

  • Erin Alexander

    I’m only 20 years old and I feel like I’m running behind on everything already. A good portion of the people I went to high school with are either engaged, married and/or have kids. In my social circle many of my friends have serious relationships… and I only got out of high school two years ago. I made the decision to pursue a post secondary education, which in itself has sacrifices. I love my studies and cannot wait until my career begins, because that is where my passion lies. However, something is aways buzzing at the back of my head saying “you’re single, you’re not married, you are in school and don’t have a career yet”. My family is extremely supportive, but the constant show of blingy engagement rings, weddings and baby bumps have a tendency to throw me off my game sometimes. When I should just be enjoying university, I find myself looking at engagement photos, wishing it were me. Something I’ve come to realize however, is that taking time to love myself and spend time completely alone has helped me to mature and grow. I really enjoy having my morning tea alone, not sharing a bathroom or a bed. Or the remote. I know this will help me when my time comes to be with my lifetime love, but there are most definitely days where it’s harder to see the long term!