I wear a ring with the map coordinates of a restaurant in San Francisco on the pointer finger of my right hand, but I used to have other jewelry: an engagement ring.

This beach is one of the spectacular sights on the 17 Mile Drive near Pebble Beach Golf Course in California. I spent a week in California with my dad shortly after my breakup with my then-fiancé. It was my first indicator of the opportunities I might have given up to marry young.

This beach is one of the spectacular sights on the 17 Mile Drive near Pebble Beach Golf Course in California. I spent a week in California with my dad shortly after my breakup with my then-fiancé. It was my first indicator of the opportunities I might have given up to marry young.

It was funny. When I was growing up, I always told everyone that I didn’t want to get married, ever, that boys were icky, and that I wanted to be a rich and famous world traveler.

But when I entered my teenage years, my hormones took over. I took a sharp detour into GirlfriendLand. I met a nice boy that my parents liked and eventually we decided to get married.

To spare you the gory details, it didn’t work out.

I toured the Uxmal Mayan Ruins in Mexico with my best friend after graduating college. Located about an hour and a half outside of Progreso, one of the cities we stopped at, the ancient buildings still stand. In the distance is the most famous of these, called “The Magician’s Pyramid.”

I toured the Uxmal Mayan Ruins in Mexico with my best friend after graduating college. Located about an hour and a half outside of Progreso, one of the cities we stopped at, the ancient buildings still stand. In the distance is the most famous of these, called “The Magician’s Pyramid.”

And neither of us regret it.

Yes — the end of a relationship is usually messy and unpleasant, and there was some of that. But when the fog of hurt cleared, and with the added perspective of a few years and a little wisdom, I can happily report I realized it was one of the best things that could have happened.

In the years since I rejected my marriage, we’ve both completed degrees. I received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University in Waco. I reported on local and national news stories. I’ve traveled to California, New York, Mexico… and now I’m planning a trip to see three countries in Europe. I am going after my deepest dreams, independently, and it brings me a sense of satisfaction that I wouldn’t have even known to miss had I gone through with it and walked down the aisle.

The point is not to denigrate people who make this choice. Marriage can be incredibly rewarding, and I applaud those that make it work. It’s tough. You’ve got to have something special to commit and see it through. And it’s fulfilling. Blog star Stephanie Nielson of nieniedialogues married young and that marriage, by her own accounting,  has been one of the greatest sources of happiness in her life, something that gave her strength in dark times.

But for me? It would have been limiting. My education, though something I still planned to pursue, would have been much more difficult with the added responsibility that comes with marriage. And had I married, there would not have been money in our budget for to take those trips. Instead of focusing on self-fulfillment, we would have needed to work on building our joint future. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s not as much room for exploration. I feel like I know so much about the world compared to what I knew before (which, paradoxically, made me realize how little I know).

As a graduation present, my best friend Shannon (not pictured) and I took a cruise to Mexico, stopping in two cities: Progreso and Cozumel. This picture was taken at the Uxmal Mayan Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which we toured on our trip.

As a graduation present, my best friend Shannon (not pictured) and I took a cruise to Mexico, stopping in two cities: Progreso and Cozumel. This picture was taken at the Uxmal Mayan Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which we toured on our trip.

So if you’re young and crazy in love and contemplating the idea, I urge you to wait a few years if you can. Travel, read, explore. Learn how to take care of yourself. Get an education.  I can tell you that I don’t regret any of it.

Does it mean I’ll never marry in the future? I don’t know. I can’t predict that. I can only analyze the past, and tell you that for now, I’m happy. I wear my set of map coordinates proudly. Often, I look down at them and smile.