I never want to get married or have children. Yes, I’m 20 years old and I know this already. When I smile and say I don’t think either are for me, I’m disregarded by most adults because, according to them, my two decades on this Earth are hardly enough to make that decision. “You’ll change your mind one day” is something I hear quite often. Except, I don’t think I will. Actually, I’m sure I won’t. I understand I’m young, but I think I’m able to make informed and well-thought-out decisions about my body and the types of relationships I want to have.

Just because my body is built to produce children, it in no way exsists for just that. I want to have a bustling career and travel wherever my little heart desires and children don’t seem to fit into that equation. The lifestyle I want is not kid-friendly. Not to mention I know enough about myself to say, “I don’t want to birth a child” and mean it. Birth is terrifying to me and I applaud my mother for going through it twice.

I figure, if one day I decide I want to be a mother, there are about 153 million orphans around the world who need a mom and I would be happy to be that for them. But that’s a very heavy “if.” I’m a terribly irresponsible person. I can’t keep my room clean let alone remember to eat meals every day and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Keeping myself alive and well on a day-to-day basis is a hard enough task. I’m not cut out for motherhood.

Nor am I cut out for marriage. I’m not good with failure, and let’s be honest, the odds are stacked against me. It’s pretty common to hear that about half of all marriages end in divorce, and though this might not be entirely true, I haven’t been exposed to many successful marriages in my lifetime. Personally, I don’t see the point in having a piece of paper bind me to another human being for the rest of my life. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been together for 32 years, and despite typical Hollywood rumors, they do not plan on getting married. Having a functional, continuous relationship is worth far more to me than throwing a party to prove it. If getting married is a goal of yours, by all means, go for it. I’m not discrediting marriage as a whole, as I know there are benefits of having that bond for some people. I’m simply saying it is not for me.  

It is time people realize that not all women aspire to be moms and wives. If I am self-aware enough to be making these conscious decisions as a young woman, I shouldn’t be written off. I’m tired of people telling me I’ll change my mind one day. I have never once heard someone tell a woman who says she wants to get married and have children that she’ll change her mind about that. When I was growing up, my parents never mentioned marriage and children when discussing my future with me. My education and career were their priorities. They saw more in me than a future wife or mother.

First and foremost, I am a human being who has more purpose in life than starting a family. Telling me I’m going to change my mind someday is implying that I don’t have the agency to understand myself now. It’s implying I’m not allowed to have a future that doesn’t involve starting a family. Well, these decisions are entirely my own and as much as you may think I will, I won’t change my mind.

Olivia Puente can be reached at opuente@umich.edu

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