As a college student, people are shocked when they notice a wedding ring on my finger.

As a 21-year-old senior, I cop a lot of judgement for already being married. It seems as soon as I made the decision to vary from the norm I opened myself up to all sorts of opinions regarding my lifestyle.

Although many might not think so, marriage in college is more common than you believe.

According to a 2008 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, in which they surveyed around 20,928 undergraduates, 18% were married.

Many people seem to think I am a glaring oddity, as most married students are non-traditional, middle aged, and have children.

However, I got engaged to my long-term boyfriend right out of high school, and married him the summer after my sophomore year in college. We are both in our 20’s with no children (and no plans for any in the near future) and are both finishing our degrees here at MSU.

It is a strange concept for many people that we chose to marry “so soon”. A lot of times I can hear the judgement in the voices of my peers, it’s almost as if they believe I should feel ashamed.

A lot of people seem to equate being married with being dead.

Once at a party a girl said to me “Where is your husband? If I were you I would be at home”

Other people seem to take it as an offense towards their own lifestyle.

“I’m not even dating anyone right now. I don’t even know what I want to do with my life” said one classmate.

The thing is, no matter what decisions you make, it’s your life and you have to live with them. The same path is not going to be right for everyone. I chose to get married at 20 because it was what was right for me and it’s what made me happy.

Just because I made a decision that is considered odd to many people my age, does not mean you have the authority to comment on my life.

The truth is, being married in college does make my life very different from the majority of students, but I love it.

Being married means that I am not a traditional wife or student. I am somewhere in between, somewhere that is right for me.

Thursday nights I go out with my friends, but spend Fridays cooking dinner and spending time with my husband and our dogs. He supports me when I study for big exams, and picks up the slack when I am too busy with school. Our life many not look like everyone else’s, but it is ours.

I still go out to parties and show up for class, but ultimately, I get to go home to someone I enjoy spending my time with and who is my backbone during one of the most stressful times of my life.

I try not to judge people for their lifestyles, even if that means dating 10 different people in the span of a year, or one person their entire life.

The point is, your life is unique.

So if you notice the ring on one of your classmates finger try to refrain from saying

“Wow you’re already married?”

Instead, congratulate them, for everyone has got to choose their own path, and wouldn’t it be pretty boring if all of ours were the same?