Suddenly, I had celebrity status among colleagues, friends — even bosses. I was the most popular girl at any cocktail party, work event or meeting, and it wasn't just because they were vying for a wedding invite; I was celebrated just as much by acquaintances.
Overnight, the older women in the office treated me like an equal instead of a kid. We shared stories about our partners, workout classes, the diets we were considering, vacation spots and restaurants. Even in meetings, my opinions and ideas were given more credence, as if the rock on my finger had raised my IQ. Previously my boss was always hesitant to take me seriously in a management role. Now I was more qualified to make assessments and changes to strategies and processes.
And it wasn't just higher-ups and colleagues who started treating me more like a peer. I felt far more connected to my friends, both married and engaged, than I had in years. Wives and fiancees of Andy's friends, who had once seemed to merely endure me, suddenly wanted to be friends — real friends, not just friendly when we happened to be at the same cocktail party.
Overnight, both sets of parents gained a newfound respect for me. When, pre-engagement, I had mentioned my desire to start up a freelance business, I got an earful (in stereo). Post-engagement, when I brought it up again (and then actually did it), no one questioned my decision. Gone were the insinuations that I was being impetuous and irresponsible.
The decision seemed unanimous: I was far more likable, interesting and respectable now that I was engaged.
I’ll be the first to admit, that’s what I was going for. I still didn’t care about the wedding or even the ring (though I love it). Andy and I were already committed. I just wanted the title; the status change. If a piece of paper would afford me the ability to be a real player in my career and a respected adult, I figured, why not?
Had I known how quickly a rock on my finger would have made my life easier, I might have popped the question to Andy a long time ago.
Though we haven’t walked down the aisle just yet, I've come to think of getting married as more akin to college or high school graduation than a romantic gesture or the real-life fairtyale we're led to believe it will be. It's a rite of passage that marks a person's transition into adulthood. And although we may leave the nest and support ourselves long before we marry these days, whether we like it or not, society still sees marriage as the ultimate maturity gauge — for better or for worse.
What’s surprised me most is how different I feel since becoming engaged. As ironic as it sounds, I do feel more legit having had a ring on my finger for a while now. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like I'm pretending to be an adult. Getting engaged has made me feel more like an adult than anything else in my life has — far more than a director title, a mortgage approval or parenthood (hey, a puppy counts, right?).
So, did I sell out? You be the judge. But I will suggest that if Andy and I are happy, and everyone else in our lives are relieved/justified/delighted/fill-in-the-blank-here, then you might say: all’s well that ends well.