Weddings can be tough.
Recently, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to fulfill certain obligations to my friends and family. I used to think my commitments were my duty to fulfill, but the older I get, I see that’s not really the case. A lot of times I find that my priorities and my personal duties don’t always match up with what I’m expected to do.
While planning a wedding there is a never-ending list of responsibilities and social obligations that one must abide by to not be considered rude. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the best when it comes to etiquette. I know a bunch of the “rules,” but some things I have to call my omnipotent party host friend for; she knows everything!
But sometimes who you’re supposed to invite takes precedence over who you want to invite. Or when you’re mandated to give a thank you gift, it seems less meaningful than the times you’re inspired to give one. Of course, I want to be respectful. But some parts of prepping for a wedding can feel so archaic, you lose sight of what you really want because you’re just blindly filling requirements.
To me, an obligation is something you feel like you have to do, otherwise you’ll get in trouble. Your duty is more like your own personal values. Acting on your values is something you feel compelled to do; it’s not forced. No one makes you abide by your own values—you just do it because it’s what you believe.
I spent most of my life doing things because I felt obligated to say yes. I have always overcommitted myself to friends, functions, work, creative endeavors, and everything in between. I can never do it all; something’s always gotta give.
Usually, my health and my sanity were the things that suffered. When I make a definite commitment, I will be there no matter what. If I say I will be somewhere, I will be there unless I have the flu or a mental breakdown. And honestly, I have still continued on with plans while having both of those things before.
I think someone’s word is often taken with a grain of salt these days. I try to make my word count for something. If I casually say I’ll work on a project with you or we’ll grab a drink some time, I wouldn’t consider that set in stone. But if I promise I’ll do something, you can consider it done.
No one really taught me that. It’s just something I think is important. Being trustworthy is something I have (hopefully) earned over time. That doesn’t matter, though, if you leave someone off the invitation list to your wedding or forget to write a thank you card; you’re still the bad guy.
Still, I think it’s important to do your own moral inventory as a young adult. I feel most young Americans spend their post-college years trying to figure out what their own values are instead of just blindly following their parents or religion’s. That’s a good thing.
I remember when I moved to New York City I realized my morals were different than my new coworkers from there. Our upbringings had shaped our priorities. This one girl I worked with was a devout Italian Catholic, still living with her parents in Queens. I told her was an agnostic, at the time.
She said: “So, you don’t believe in God? So you can just steal and kill people and do whatever you want because you don’t believe you’re going to hell?”
I said: “If the only reason you don’t kill other people is because you’re afraid you’re going to hell then I feel sorry for you.”
I think there is honor in coming up with your own core values. These can’t really be taught. They can be instilled and strengthened, but I don’t think everyone has the capacity to be honorable. Acting like a Christian doesn’t mean you have honorable motives.
Much of life is a compromise. I know I have spent a lot of mine trying to please everyone and doing my best to honor my obligations. The older I get the more I realize the only person I need to honor is myself. And in turn, hopefully that will make the people who love me happy.
As young people become more and more independent, a wedding is one of the last times we are expected to follow very specific traditions. It’s important to respect customs, but it’s even more important to respect yourself and your betrothed.