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Ellen Fishel, b's Baltimore living columnist.
Ellen Fishel, b's Baltimore living columnist. (Jeffrey F. Bill, Baltimore Sun)

It's actually happening. It always felt so far in the distance, vague and cloudy and intangible.

But it's here. The onslaught of engagement announcements on Facebook has begun.

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Every time I scroll through my news feed, it feels as though I see at least five down-on-one-knee pictures or relationship status updates.

Hand-with-ring Instagrams are becoming the new selfie. And the recent holiday season has only added to the flood.

I might sometimes roll my eyes, but I'm not trying to sound bitter. I'm excited for friends who have gotten engaged (or the strangers who show up on my feed because my old roommate's high school friend liked their post). I'm just still in shock that at 24, I know people I met in elementary school or shotgunned beers with in college who are getting married.

The wedding tidal wave is a well-known rite of adulthood. News of it has been passed down for generations in the form of tales of expensive clothing buying and endless Crate and Barrel registries.

As is the theme of most topics I discuss in this column, it's both thrilling and terrifying.

I am beyond excited to watch my friends take such an amazing step — and the party aspect doesn't sound too bad, either. But the fact that people my age are reaching such adult milestones knocks the wind out of me a bit.

Then I force myself to remember what we all know about social media — seeing the highlights of everyone else's lives plastered over your screens can put undue pressure on your own.

For 20-somethings, this is true now more than ever. After centering our lives on school, now is the first time our peers' life paths have varied wildly, if really at all. It's hard to grasp that there's no one pattern to follow.

I have friends who graduated from college and got office jobs. I have friends who are still looking for employment. I have friends who are traveling the world and others who are enjoying staying still. I even have a friend who's now a mom.

None of these choices are more "right" than the others. For once in our lives, there is no timeline to follow — except the ones on social media that sometimes make us feel as if we're falling behind.

So while all of the "so-and-so got engaged" updates might be a little jarring, ultimately it's no reflection on my state in life. All it shows is that those two people think they are ready to make that leap. And that some really fun celebrations are about to begin. Based on the three cousins' weddings I've attended in the past year (with one more to go), I'm convinced that can't be a bad thing.

That's one of the silver linings of becoming a "real" adult: We might have more responsibility, but we also get to celebrate things like weddings and engagements. And that's a lot classier than those packed college house parties we recently traded in.

So propose away, friends. Right now, I'm perfectly OK with following along from my screen.

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