Today was YSA Stake Conference, which is when a large congregation made of sub-congregations meets to hear their regional and general leaders speak.
My solitary self arrived fifteen minutes early as instructed, and already, the parking lot and a quarter mile of the roads in either direction of the stake center were filled with cars.
I rushed into the chapel and chose a seat almost to the very back of the overflow, actively avoiding eye contact with others, and praying that i’d be left to sit alone for the duration of the meeting. Due to the overwhelmingly large number of attendees, we were all forced to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in order to accommodate everyone.
So there I was, sitting on a fold-up chair next to a red-headed gentleman in a sports coat with above-average singing capabilities, who probably came by himself, too.
To my delight, we avoided each other perfectly.
The fun thing about YSA anything is that the main goal is to get us all hitched. YSA Stake Conference is no exception. Our first speaker was our stake president, a man whom I love and respect. He counseled us to pray to find an eternal companion, and to not delay marriage. He then continued to emphasize that our biggest and most important decision in life is whom we choose to marry, which I agree with (if we decide to marry.)
This counsel seems contradictory to me for a couple of reasons. First off, if marriage is the most important decision we make in this life, why are we being told to rush it? Isn’t the universal advice to “sleep on it” when faced with big decisions?
Secondly, getting married complicates educational and career goals, especially for women in a lot of cases. My mom (whom i’d been texting throughout the meeting) told me that a woman in her ward told the story of how she’d achieved her dream of getting into medial school, but then she got engaged and gave it all up to raise a family. It breaks my heart to hear stories like this, because I don’t see why a person can’t pursue the career of their dreams and raise a family.
I do believe that it can be done, if timed and prioritized correctly.
This is not to say that I think that those who chose to get married young are wrong in doing so. We’re all individuals, and different circumstances yield different decisions.
I’ve been twenty for three days now, and at this stage in my life, I can’t imagine rushing much of anything, much less decisions of whom I choose to spend the rest of eternity with.